Situation: runners at second and third, no outs. A line drive gets caught by the short stop, who throws to third base to try and get a double play.

The runner at third is called safe. However, the runner thinks he is called out and starts jogging off the field. The third baseman throws the ball to the pitcher. The pitcher then throws the ball back to the third baseman who steps on third base. The field umpire signals out.

The runner who was originally called safe (and then out) gets as far as the on-deck circle of the first base dugout before his teammates tell him to go back and touch home plate.

The runner comes back and touches home plate. The home plate umpire calls him safe at home and the run scores. Is this a legal run?

I realize that the runner was essentially tagging up, and when the umpire signaled out, it was the wrong call. However, after the runner was signaled out the catcher figured him to be out and therefore allowed the runner to come back and touch home plate.

What should happen when an umpire make a false out call such as this? It is deceptive to the defense; it seems that the runner should have to go back to third at the very least.

1 Answer 1


The original ‘out’ call on the play is correct according to the “Abandoning the basepath” ruling. The out call is somewhat subjective in that the umpire must determine if the runner is “abandoning his efforts to run the bases”.

“You don't see this very often. The most common scenario is when a base runner mistakenly believes he's been put out and heads for the dugout. There is no set guidance on how far the runner must go before he's technically abandoned the bases; the rulebook says only that he "progresses a reasonable distance still indicating by his actions that he is out." More often what you see is the defense noticing his blunder and putting a tag on.”

Additionally, from Rule 5.09(b)(1) and (2)

Rule 5.09(b)(1) and (2) Comment (Rule 7.08(a) Comment): Any runner after reaching first base who leaves the base path heading for his dugout or his position believing that there is no further play, may be declared out if the umpire judges the act of the runner to be considered abandoning his efforts to run the bases. Even though an out is called, the ball remains in play in regard to any other runner.


PLAY. Runner believing he is called out on a tag at first or third base starts for the dugout and progresses a reasonable distance still indicating by his actions that he is out, shall be declared out for abandoning the bases.

2016 MLB Official Rules, Pages 43-44

So, to answer your question, it is not a legal run.

  • 2
    Just as with the "Laws of the Game" as featured on meta, we should strive to use the updated MLB rule book, which has revised several rule numbers (eg, 7.08(a) is now something else).
    – user527
    Jul 12, 2016 at 17:26
  • @ᴍᴀsᴛᴇʀᴍɪɴᴅ_ᴇᴅ Roger that.
    – rrirower
    Jul 12, 2016 at 17:27
  • It might be helpful to point out that the umpire should not have been calling out because the defense tagged third. The runner was not forced out and it wasn't an appeal (unless the runner didn't actually tag up), so the "out" call was because the runner was abandoning the basepath.
    – Duncan
    Jul 19, 2016 at 22:50
  • What if a runner leaves the base path in response to a "nonsensical" call of Out by the umpire? For example, in a force situation, the defensive baseman mimes a catch and then tags the bag with his foot before the base runner reaches it, but the baseman didn't actually have the ball. Obviously a ref shouldn't make such a mistake, but what would the rules say? Would they seek to minimize any unjust harm done by the patently-incorrect call?
    – supercat
    Jul 2, 2018 at 19:39

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