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Do the runners on the base get a free run when the batter hits a home run?

I have seen a game where there was a runner on first and the batter hit a home run, but instead of getting one home run, they got two even though it would have been impossible to run all the bases without getting out.

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    Americans (and others): go easy on the downvotes. Not everybody grew up with baseball. – Philip Kendall Aug 3 '16 at 10:32
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    @PhilipKendall - Excellent point. In fact, Americans (and others) should upvote this specifically to encourage people who want to know about baseball to ask about it :) – Duncan Aug 3 '16 at 18:16
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    I expect the same treatment for anyone (nationality aside) that asks a question about a sport they are not familiar with...to which I have included on our meta post for new users. – user527 Aug 4 '16 at 12:00
  • @PhilipKendall: There are even (adult, middle-aged) Americans who don't know this stuff ... as I am every time my wife comes to a game with me. – GreenMatt Dec 8 '17 at 3:09
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I think you're confusing "run" and "home run". In high-level terms:

  • A run is scored when a player starts off as a batter then makes it all the way back round to home plate without being put out, no matter if he stops at any bases along the way.
  • A home run happens when a batter hits the ball over the fences (or equivalent). When this happens, any players currently on first, second or third bases also get to finish their circle of the bases and score a run (but not a home run).

As such in your situation, two runs are scored: one for the player who was already on first, and one for the batter who hit the home run. However, only the batter is credited with a home run. It's possibly also worth noting here that for the purposes of winning the game, runs are the only thing that matters. It doesn't matter if they were home runs or not - they all count as runs; it's perfectly possible to win a game without scoring a single home run, but you obviously have to score at least one run.

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    I've never given it a second thought because I grew up with baseball, but I now realize that "home run" is a pretty nebulous term. By definition, all runs are a result of reaching home base, but a "home run" is a specific case. If just learning the game, I'd suggest trying to replace all instances of "home run" with another term: a dinger, four-bagger, round-tripper or one of the many, many synonyms. – Dr.DrfbagIII Aug 3 '16 at 13:28
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    @Dr.DrfbagIII along the same lines, "home run" can mean "when the batter scores a run on one play" sports.stackexchange.com/a/14340 – user527 Aug 3 '16 at 13:32
  • @Dr.DrfbagIII while that may be a nice idea, if you're watching any media coverage, they're going to use "home run" so people are going to have to understand the term. – Philip Kendall Aug 3 '16 at 13:35
  • @ᴍᴀsᴛᴇʀᴍɪɴᴅ_ᴇᴅ That's not necessarily true. No home run is credited if there are errors on the play, and I can think of an extremely contrived example where it isn't clear if a home run would be credited. (Similar to how a batter who reaches second on a throw home, I wonder if a batter could be credited with a triple if a very slow lead runner eludes a tag at home and the batter slides in behind him.) – chepner Aug 22 '16 at 16:05
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    @chepner That's fair. That's why I say "can mean" rather than "does mean" or "always means." I updated the answer I reference to reflect this. – user527 Aug 22 '16 at 16:06

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