Keep Your Eye Everlastingly on the Ball

Jim Reynolds and an example of obstruction during the opening series in Washington

Obstruction can be one of the most misidentified and least understood rules in baseball. A fielder can be guilty of obstructing a runner and only a split second later, he is the victim of interference by the runner (NOTE: whether the fielder was “in the act of fielding the ball” is a determining factor).

Obstruction is commonly and mistakenly described by broadcasters as “interference” and their explanation will likely result in even more confusion as they attempt to unravel and explain the complexities. To add even more to the discussion is the fact that there are two (2) types of obstruction as defined by the Official Rules of Baseball: 7.06 (a) and 7.06 (b).

7.06 type (a) is when a play is being made on a runner or if the batter-runner is obstructed prior to reaching first base.
7.06 type (b) is if no play is being made on the runner and the play shall proceed until no further action is possible.

During our opening series in Washington, we had an example of Type (b) obstruction and 3rd base umpire, Jim Reynolds was right on top of the play: You can watch the video here…

The essential point of emphasis to remember is that in Type (b) obstruction you signal the obstruction by pointing and then continue to let the play proceed as normal. You must, though, in your mind be conscious of where you are determining that runner would end up “had the obstruction NOT occurred.” In this type of obstruction it is NOT an automatic one base award.

There is quite a bit to review in the rule book concerning this rule, so make sure you look through it if you haven’t in a while. After even a short review I have no doubt you will inherently surpass the knowledge of many of our game’s television and radio broadcasters.

One final note: while I would never advocate ignoring or straying away from anything in the Official Rules, if you had followed 9.05 (General Instructions to Umpires), you would of missed this obstruction completely. For it states: “Keep your eye everlastingly on the ball while it is in play.”

Well, in this case, do not read “everlastingly” as gospel.

Mike Di Muro has been a Major League Umpire since 1999.  He is the author of the official blog of UMPS CARE Charities.  Please leave any questions or comments below.

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5 Responses to “Keep Your Eye Everlastingly on the Ball”

  1. matt Says:

    A rules blog would be great Mike!

    I look forward to it.


  2. Mike Di Muro Says:

    Matt, this will be a great question for a future rules discussion. I will definitely get it planned for an upcoming post. Thanks again!

  3. matt Says:

    whoops ya I meant interference(had obstruction in my head after reading the blog)

    Im just curious if he was called for interference because the fielder had to alter his path to the ball.

    Felt bad for the crew yesterday working the red sox and jays series. I never knew the foul line and peskys pole didnt line up. They have to make it interesting for you guys eh?

    Thanks for the quick reply.


  4. Mike Di Muro Says:

    Matt, I appreciate your comment. Keep in mind that a runner can never be called for obstruction. In the video it looked like Escobar was called out for interference. Thanks for reading our blog!

  5. matt Says:

    Hey Mike,

    Hope you had a good offseason.

    Since you brought obstruction up, I was wondering if you could clarify the ruling for a jays/angels game where Escobar was called for obstruction.

    My understanding is that since the 3rd baseman had to alter his path to the ball the call was made. I always thought there had to be contact to facilitate the call.


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