Balk On or Walk-Off?



Bottom of the 16th inning at Fenway in a tie game, 8-8.

There’s 1 out and Ortiz is on Second base, after lining a double to Right-center.

With Pedroia, then Bogaerts due up next, the Sox manager wants to have speed on Second, so that the winning run can score on a single.

Jun 6, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Members of the Boston Red Sox celebrate after designated hitter David Ortiz (middle) hit a walk off home run to defeat the Texas Rangers 6-3 at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Sox have emptied their bench of position players and the manager calls to the pen to send in rookie LHP Henry Owens, who arrived from the minors just before game time, to pinch run for Ortiz.

The Yankees are running out of players too and their last available pitcher is rookie Right-hander Rookie Davis [no typo on the first name, maybe his mom meant “Mookie”?].  Rookie the rookie goes into his stretch and checks the runner on 2b a few times and the Second base umpire waves both arms and  yells “BALK!”

"But, with the Fenway Faithful at full roar, rookie Davis doesn’t hear the call and throws his pitch to Pedroia."

Pedroia alertly swings and drives the ball into the gap in Right-center and, as it skips past the outfielders, they both give up on it, since there’s no chance they can make a relay to get the pinch-runner, Owens, at the plate.  They then turn and are shocked to see that Owens has not scored from Second base.

Owens, who heard the Second base umpire call the balk, trotted to Third base and is standing there with his arms crossed.

The Third base coach exhorts Owens to continue to home plate.

Owens jumps on the plate and the Sox rush on the field for a post-game celebration.

But, Pedroia, who saw the Second base umpire call balk by waving his hands and starting toward the mound is standing at Second base, grinning at the two flummoxed outfielders.

But, hold the SmartPhone.

The umpires huddle on the mound and with their ruling, the game is not over; the Sox have not won 9-8.


Some fans in the stands speculate that the run should count, because the Yankee pitcher made a mistake by making the pitch and Pedroia knocked in the winning run; if there was a balk called, so what; the Sox get to decide to accept the balk OR, since the pitcher threw the pitch, they get to opt for the hit and the win.

RULING:  At the instant an umpire makes a balk call, by yelling out and signaling with his hands, the ball is dead.   Any action that follows, is moot.

It did not matter that the Yankee rookie pitcher did not hear, or see, the balk call and made the pitch.

Pedroia knew his “game-winning” RBI would be cancelled by the balk call, but he took a rip at it anyway and was amused that the Yankee CF and RF looked so foolish.

What to do?

Return to the juncture in the game when the balk was called:  the pinch-runner Owens was on Second base and Pedroia at the plate.  Ignore that the Yankee pitcher made the pitch.  The ball was dead at the instant the 2nd base umpire made the balk call.  Owens is awarded Third base on the balk call.  Pedroia comes back to the plate and the action resumes from that point.

Oh, on the next pitch, the rattled rookie, Righty Rookie Davis, uncorked a Wild Pitch that sails 10 feet over the plate and the Sox win 9-8.

Once again, Owens jumps on the plate and the Sox rush on the field for their second post-game celebration.