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...after the game, Black withdrew his protest aware that the language of the rule was on the side of Montero and the D’Backs.  

 

Detroit Tigers’ infielder Ramon Santiago almost blew this rule on May 15, 2010, when the Tigers and Boston Red Sox played at Comerica Park. 

In the bottom of the 12th inning, Santiago drew a four pitch walk from Ramon Ramirez with the bases loaded and two outs as the Tigers rallied to beat the Red Sox, 7-6.

By rule, Santiago was required to touch first and Magglio Ordonez, the runner on third, had to touch home. Following the call of “Ball Four,” Santiago carried his bat with him and took six or seven steps in the direction of first base, then retreated toward home to join the celebration with his teammates. As Ordonez was jogging home with the winning run, he noticed that Santiago was returning to the plate area and told him to go to first. Adam Everitt, who was in the home plate area, also told Santiago to go to first. Santiago then ran to first and touched the base.

Santiago admitted after the game that he did not know he had to touch first base. “I’ve never walked off that way in my career,” he said, “and I didn’t know I had to go until the guys told me. You learn something new every day.”

If Santiago never returned to first, at what point should the umpires call him out? The umpires would most likely give a lot of leeway here. The rule says, “If, with two out, the batter-runner refuses to advance to and touch first base, the umpire shall disallow the run, call out the offending player, and order the game resumed.”

The word “refuses” is the key word here. Most umpires would most likely make sure that the player does not enter the dugout. Chances of this happening are remote since this is a rule that most seem to know. But don’t bet on it.

Rule 4.09 (b) was successfully protested in a Northern League game played on June 30, 1960, between Fargo-Moorehead and Minot. In the home half of the ninth with the score tied 11-11, Fargo had the bases loaded and two out when Tut Thublin walked to force in Jim Horseford, the runner on third, with the winning run. Ken Slater, the runner on first, did what Montero did. He never touched the next base. Minot appealed the play and umpires Andy Olsen and Tony Favano incorrectly agreed that Slater was required to touch second base. The umps ordered the game resumed and Minot went on the record a 12-11 win.

Fargo manager John Fitzpatrick protested the game and the protest was upheld by League president Herman White, who declared Fargo-Moorehead the winner in nine innings, 12-11.

One would have to question the logic of the rule. Whenever an inning ends in a force out resulting from a batted ball, no run can score per rule 4.09 (a).  In bases loaded game-ending walk situations, it appears that runners are all forced to advance to the next base. But contrary to a base hit or a batted ball, a game-ending walk results in a base award for all runners and should not be interpreted as your routine force situation even though the word “force” is commonly used when discussing this situation. The base award takes this to a different level. And with less than two outs, it’s not necessary for the batter-runner to touch first base on a walk-off walk. The game ends as soon as the runner on third touches home plate. 

All of this of course is confusing to the players. My advice to all players on all levels-touch ‘em all on every play!