Runner is one first base. He starts stealing second base but decides to go back to first. The ball goes from catcher to second baseman. Second baseman tries to pick up the runner going back to first but throws it in the stands.

The runner goes to second and stops there. Then he thought he had to go back to first so he starts running back towards first base but he never reaches it.

The umpire awards him 2 bases and tells him to go to third. So the runner is between first and second (last base touched is second base) and starts running directly towards third base (passes near the mound, not following any base line).

The pitcher goes back to the mound and touches his plate. The umpire makes a signal and we now have a live ball. The pitchers calls a timeout. He throws to second, making an appeal. The umpire calls the runner out. He said he failed to touch second base. When being reminded that the last touched base was second base he said that the runner had to touch it again because he started running back toward first base (even if he never made it back to first base).

There is no rule that says you need to run along the base line. The only rule is that when a fielder is attempting to tag a runner, the runner has to stay on the base path (the base path being a direct line from the runner and the base when a tag is attempted).

To me, there is nothing wrong with that:

  • run from first to second base
  • run back towards first base (but without touching first base)
  • at a point between second and first, turn back and run towards third base

I'd call it weird base running.

So do you think it was a bad call or there is a rule that I'm missing?

3 Answers 3


This is the correct call.

When considering the path of the bases, think of a number line:

0 -- 1 -- 2 -- 3 -- H

In order to progress to successive bases, they must be touched in order. Since the runner decided to cede his position at second base (and head back towards first), he no longer possessed second base. When the umpire awarded two bases on the throwing error, the runner must continue from where he is along the path of all bases to arrive at his destination. If any bases are missed (whether by a misstep over the bag, or taking a circuitous route), the runner has failed to tag the bases in order.

  • if you run back towards a previous base, you must touch the next base before continuing on Jul 12, 2018 at 20:33
  • Because the runner is between first and second when awarded third, he must continue along the path, in order, much as the number line is shown. This is certainly the rule. You can scour the rule book if you want. The word cede isn't necessarily used per se. But that's what he did. Jul 12, 2018 at 21:00
  • That's irrelevant, and not in the scope of the original question. Jul 13, 2018 at 0:38
  • Yes, I do understand. But because he is running along the baseline away from from second back towards first, he would have to go back to second before touching third. The scenario which you speak of, while may be legal, would never come up in a practical situation. Since runners are allowed to run arcs when rounding the bases, we see this freedom. But having a runner traipse in the outfield is in no way strategic. Putting that aside, this is irrelevant in your scenario in the question. The runner reversed the path towards home, and will need to touch each base in order. Jul 13, 2018 at 1:06
  • Shouldn't the player be awarded two bases from his position (between 1st and 2nd) as soon as the ball is thrown out of play? The fact that he "successfully" reached second before mistakenly turned to go back to first doesn't seem relevant; the play was dead before he even reached second.
    – chepner
    Jul 24, 2018 at 19:47

It's a bad call. Nothing that happened after the ball was thrown out of play is relevant. Rule 5.06(b)(4)(G) applies here.

5.06(b)(4) Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance

(G) two bases when, with no spectators on the playing field, a thrown ball goes into the stands, or into a bench (whether or not the ball rebounds into the field), or over or under or through a field fence, or on a slanting part of the screen above the backstop, or remains in the meshes of a wire screen protecting spectators. The ball is dead. When such wild throw is the first play by an infielder, the umpire, in awarding such bases, shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the ball was pitched; in all other cases the umpire shall be governed by the position of the runners at the time the wild throw was made;

The ball was thrown out of play when the runner was between 1st and 2nd, before he ever reached 2nd base. The play is dead, and the runner is immediately awarded 3rd base. He can't miss second base, because he isn't actually running from 1st to 3rd anymore.

(One could argue whether the 2nd baseman's throw is the first or second throw of the play, but the result is the same whether you award the two bases from 1st base or between 1st and 2nd base.)


Both citations and both answers you have are correct. Coming from 20+ years of umpiring I can tell you this happens a lot.

The fact is if the runner goes from 1st to 3rd directly on a dead ball play this is not subject to appeal. The umpire on the field should have made the player touch second then third. Do a 5th grade boys game and this might happen once a game. It is the umpire's responsibility to enforce the rules when the ball is dead.

Example - catcher calls timeout. Runner is taking a lead off of first base. Home plate umpire signals for play to resume. The umpire in the field or first base umpire would tell the runner to get back on first base to start the play. He doesn't just get to keep his lead off that he had because neither the runner nor the pitcher is sure that play has resumed. But really the home plate umpire shouldn't signal for play resuming unless he see all of the base runners standing safely on their bags.

So really this is an issue with the umpire not the player. Yes the player should know to touch the bags in order and follow these rules but on a dead ball they are not enforceable.

To answer your question. He is safe at third. If a coach/player appealed the play by the runner... it is useless.

An umpire could have the runner go back to first and run the bases correctly. That is all they could do to enforce this (I would never let a kid skip through the infield and yes it happens probably half the time on overthrows in kids games).

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