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Here's something that happened at a game recently and I can't find the answer to it: 2 outs, runner on 3rd. Batter hits a slow roller to third. The third baseman picks it up but makes a bad throw to first, pulling the first baseman off the bag.

The batter-runner runs right over the bag, never touching the base.

The runner on third has now crossed the plate. The first baseman sees that the runner missed the bag and tags the runner as he is walking back to the base. Runner is out.

But does the run score? The umpire ruled that he did not score.

I've read that a runner cannot score on a third out unless the batter reaches first safely. But I've also read that the umpire should have called the batter-runner safe at first when he crossed base (even though he didn't touch it) as it gives an un-fair advantage to not make any call at all. I've seen this in the MLB, so I'm pretty sure that's true. If the runner is initially safe at first, then that means the run does in fact score. Any idea?

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    You are making this way too difficult. The runner never made it to first - it doesn't matter if they are in the middle of 2nd and 3rd or halfway down the first base line. If they are tagged out before reaching first, the play reads exactly as it would if the defensive player steps on first before the runner gets there. The first baseman could have also just stepped on the bag. As the play is "live" there is no appeal process in place. The same thing would happen on a player missing a bag on a potential force out. – Coach-D Jul 12 '16 at 19:59
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This is actually addressed pretty specifically in a comment in the 2016 version of the Official Baseball Rules pdf.

The comment to Rule 5.08 (pages 37-38) has this approved ruling:

APPROVED RULING: No run shall score during a play in which the third out is made by the batter-runner before he touches first base. Example: One out, Jones on second, Smith on first. The batter, Brown, hits safely. Jones scores. Smith is out on the throw to the plate. Two outs. But Brown missed first base. The ball is thrown to first, an appeal is made, and Brown is out. Three outs. Since Jones crossed the plate during a play in which the third out was made by the batter-runner before he touched first base, Jones’ run does not count.

and this approved ruling:

APPROVED RULING: Two out, bases full, batter hits home run over fence. Batter, on appeal, is declared out for missing first base. Three outs. No run counts

In both cases, the batter-runner is the third out on the play for missing first base. No runs score.

  • Thanks for clarifying! Seeing the rule written as 'before he touches first base' make it clear what the status of the batter-runner is when he runs over first base and is called safe by the ump. Like here:m.mlb.com/cutfour/2016/06/18/184706556/… – John Tafe Jul 13 '16 at 14:37
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Lifting much of my answer heavily from Wax Eagle's answer here:

From MLB rule 5.09(c)(2)

[The runner is out on appeal when] With the ball in play, while advancing or returning to a base, he fails to touch each base in order before he, or a missed base, is tagged.

This basically means that a runner is considered safe after they've rounded first base without touching it, that is until either he or the base he missed is tagged before he returns to it and the fielding team appeals to the umpire.

However, this specific scenario is addressed in rule 5.09(d)

Unless two are out, the status of a following runner is not affected by a preceding runner’s failure to touch or retouch a base. If, upon appeal, the preceding runner is the third out, no runners following him shall score. If such third out is the result of a force play, neither preceding nor following runners shall score.

I read this as meaning that a "missed base out" (i.e. missed the base and then tagged out) can still be effectively counted as a force play out; being the third out of the inning, no runner can score. In the situation you describe, the umpire might have technically needed to have been appealed to, but in practice there often isn't an official verbal appeal--the umpire knows the deal.

Although the batter/runner would have been safe if he touched the bag and although he was considered safe for a few moments before getting tagged, he ultimately did not safely reach first base to avoid the force out.

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The umpire was correct. Batter /Runner is assumed to have touched first base when he passes by it even if he missed it. When the throw comes late he is not automatically out just because he missed the base. Defensive team must appeal to umpire before batter/runner comes back to touch the base. Then with the ball step on first or tag batter/runner. "Hey ump he missed the bag." If on appeal he is called out the run does not count.

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    Welcome to Sports SE, like other answer to this question try to add reference to your answer. – Ram Chandra Giri Jul 21 '17 at 19:05
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    The rules and explanations quoted in Duncan's answer from over a year ago make it clear that the batter-runner is out for not touching the base and no runs count. – Nij Jul 21 '17 at 21:49

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