per Official Rules, a batter awarded a base on balls may refuse to advance to first base.

why would a batter do that?

did such a case happen in MLB history?

  • As far as I can tell, the only result of a batter refusing to advance to first is the runner being called out. Such a rule probably exists because a batter once tried to stay in the batters box, or in anticipation of a batter trying to do so.
    – chepner
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 15:10

3 Answers 3


The only mention the linked rule (9.14) makes of the batter refusing first base is

(c) If a batter awarded a base on balls is called out for refusing to advance to first base, the official scorer shall not credit the base on balls and shall charge a time at bat.

The rule doesn't make clear under what circumstances a batter can be called out: does the umpire simply do so for the batter failing to take the base, or does the opposing team need to take some action?

Rule 5.05(b) provides situations where a runner is "entitled to first base without liability to be put out (provided he advances to and touches first base)". Rule 5.05(b)(1) then specifically mentions that one such situation is when the umpire calls four balls.

The comment on Rule 5.06(b)(4)(I) gives the opposing team the opportunity to execute an appeal play should a batter fail to touch a base to which he was otherwise entitled to. This could apply to a batter failing to take first base after a walk, though it isn't entirely clear.


When this happens, it's often by accident. The common term is "abandonment of the bases".

It's happened twice in my experience as a scorer in the UK, both times it was ball four with the bases loaded that scored (or would have...) an inning-ending run (in one case a walkoff, and in the other case the 5th run of the inning, triggering a lower-league rule where the inning ends after 5 runs are scored, to prevent games between rookie pitchers going on forever).

The batter took ball four and, knowing the inning/game was over, returned to the dugout. Was subsequently called out for abandonment (in one case being the third out and thus preventing the run from scoring!).

It also gives umpires a written-in-stone reason to call a runner out if, for example, they refuse to accept the walk (let's say they're a triple away from the cycle, or the winning run is on third with 2 outs and there's nobody else on base, etc). Without this rule, all the umpire could really do in that situation is eject the batter (which does not end his turn at bat or remove him from the basepaths, he just gets replaced). This rule ensures that, in addition to probably ejecting the player, he's also out.


The obvious case is a batter known to hit well, where the balls have come from a pitcher wanting to avoid the big hit against them.

In particular, this is a good decision

  • late in the game where the result of a hit is more likely to be unrecoverable

  • where the batter is especially good at hitting home runs, and the game is very close in score

  • there are runners on base, particularly if they're on third or a fast runner on second

Combinations of the above scenarios make the decision even more weighted towards staying on the plate to try for the hit.

  • The OP links to rule 9.14, in which the only mention of refusing to advance is coupled with the batter being declared out for doing so; no mention is made of the batter being allowed to continue his at-bat.
    – chepner
    Commented May 3, 2019 at 14:56
  • I think this answer is trying to say that in the absence of this rule, a player might elect to stay at the plate and see more pitches; therefore this rule was added to say you can't do that, and if you don't go to first you're out. Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 23:05

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