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You Make The Call: Ball in a Cup
By Tom Lepperd
MLB Director, Umpire Administration

Thanks for the enthusiastic response to our play. We had more than 500 answers submitted, several of which were absolutely correct. We appreciate your interest!

This play is not specifically covered in the Official Rules. In such a situation, the umpires look to Rule 9.01(c), which states:

"Each umpire has authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules."

Umpires are instructed to use common sense and fair play in such cases. The umpire crew discussed the play and felt that Official Rule 7.05(f) was similar in intent. That rule states in part that all runners, including the batter-runner, are awarded two bases if a fair ball sticks in the fence, scoreboard, or shrubbery. Therefore, the crew awarded Damon second base.

One of the keys -- which many of you pointed out -- was that the ball was firmly lodged in the cup and could not be played. Had the ball rolled into the cup and back out, it would have remained alive. On this play, the ball was so solidly lodged that it could hardly be taken out of the cup! Strange, but true!

Here are a couple rules experts who had the right idea:

If I were the umpire having to make the call in that situation, I would say the play fell under rule 9.01 (c) of the Official Rules that states, "Each umpire has the authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these rules." As the umpire, I would award the batter a double, and all runners on base would be awarded two bases from their original base.
-- Joel Seeskin

In response to your umpire puzzle regarding the Oakland game on Aug 8, 2001, here is what I believe to be the correct call: Johnny Damon should have been awarded two bases (held at second base). Although this situation is not directly addressed in the rules from what I can tell, Rule 6.09(f) most closely governs this situation.

"The batter becomes a runner when ... Any fair ball which, either before or after touching the ground, passes through or under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through any opening in the fence or scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery, or vines on the fence, or which sticks in a fence or scoreboard, in which case the batter and the runners shall be entitled to two bases ..."
-- James Corning

I think Rule 9.01 (c), which states, "Each umpire has authority to rule on any point specifically covered in these rules," could be used in this situation. Therefore, I would send Johnny Damon to second base.
-- German Sotelo