Do Two Balls Equal an OUT?


Today’s puzzler was witnessed by the [now famous] left fielder and my BSI colleague, Bill Smith, who sets the scene:

“I have one for you that I actually saw.
In Richmond, Virginia in about 1985. Atlanta’s AAA Richmond Braves vs. Mets AAA Norfolk Tides. Braves won it, 1-0 in 16 innings. Best game I ever saw.

The batter draws a walk on a pitch that is a passed ball. As the runner goes to first and tries for second as the catcher goes for the passed ball. In the meantime, the umpire throws a new ball to the pitcher.

The runner is still between first and second. By this time the catcher has gotten to the passed ball and throws it to the second baseman, but he overthrows it past the bag. The pitcher then throws the ball he has received from the umpire to the second baseman who tags the runner. Was the runner safe or out, and why?

A: The umpires at the game ruled that, as soon as the plate umpire threw out the [new] ball, the other [original] ball was no longer in play so, the runner was out. The player in left field, who watched this “two balls/one out” confusion, was Billy Beane [yup, the GM of the A’s of Moneyball fame.]


(3) The pitcher requests such alternate ball.
Rule 3.01(e) Comment: The umpire shall not give an alternate ball to the pitcher until play has ended and the previously used ball is dead. After a thrown or batted ball goes out of the playing field, play shall not be resumed with an alternate ball until the runners have reached the bases to which they are entitled. After a home run is hit out of the playing grounds, the umpire shall not deliver a new ball to the pitcher or the catcher until the batter hitting the home run has crossed the plate.


The umps made the wrong call. As long as the passed ball did not leave the field of play, it is still live and the play is continuous.  The umpire was in error; he should not have introduced a second ball into the game.  The umpires should have ignored the new ball and let the play continue with the live ball. EX: the CF retrieves the live ball and throws it to the 3b; the runner stays on second.  The umpires call time and remove one of the baseballs from play.

Readers are encouraged to submit puzzlers and we will take a shot at solving them.


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