# What happens if a wild pitch leaves the field?July 31, 2022 2:08 PM   Subscribe

My son likes to make his little toy people play baseball games while he calls the game like an announcer. Recently he called "Here's the pitch...and it's a ground rule double!!" and I was about to explain that's not how it works, but then I wondered...what if a wild pitch leaves the field (maybe rolls down into the dugout) before the catcher can retrieve it?

I'm sure it wouldn't be CALLED a ground-rule double, but putting the batter on 2nd seems like a reasonable remedy, so maybe it would happen. Has this ever happened? What's the rule?
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total)

Needs some clarification on who's getting to 2nd - are you thinking the batter can advance to 2nd on a wild pitch? Only if the pitch was a third strike (and I'm not sure the batter could go further than 1st in that situation).

If there was a runner on 1st already, they could certainly take 2nd on a wild pitch, but I'm not sure if there is a rule that prevents them from advancing further if the ball is somehow out of play, and I'm not sure going into the dugout counts for that since it's still theoretically retrievable. A similar situation might be like at Wrigley where hit balls sometimes get swallowed up by the ivy on the outfield wall and count as a ground-rule double even though the ball hasn't "left" the field of play.
posted by LionIndex at 2:21 PM on July 31, 2022

Best answer: The rules of baseball are complex and I don't claim to be an expert. However I believe the correct rule to apply in the situation is rule 5.06 (b) (4) (H). There is a ton of discussion on this rule at Baseball Rules Academy, including at the bottom one example of when this rule has been applied in games. But the plain text of the rule is:

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

...

"(H) One base, if a ball, pitched to the batter, or thrown by the pitcher from his position on the pitcher's plate to a base to catch a runner, goes into a stand or a bench, or over or through a field fence or backstop. The ball is dead;

"APPROVED RULING: When a wild pitch or passed ball goes through or by the catcher, or deflects off the catcher, and goes directly into the dugout, stands, above the break, or any area where the ball is dead, the awarding of bases shall be one base. One base shall also be awarded if the pitcher while in contact with the rubber, throws to a base, and the throw goes directly into the stands or into any area where the ball is dead.

"If, however, the pitched or thrown ball goes through or by the catcher or through the fielder, and remains on the playing field, and is subsequently kicked or deflected into the dugout, stands or other area where the ball is dead, the awarding of bases shall be two bases from position of runners at the time of the pitch or throw."

A ball in the dugout is definitely a dead ball (I can find and link that rule too if needed). All runners including the batter would advance one base from when the pitch was thrown.
posted by muddgirl at 2:47 PM on July 31, 2022 [1 favorite]

Also note, this is the same exact rule for this more-common situation: A pitcher is trying to pick off the runner at first, but the throw is wild and goes into the stands or dugout.
posted by muddgirl at 2:57 PM on July 31, 2022

Response by poster: Thanks...I knew that it was technically ALLOWED for a batter to essentially steal first on a wild pitch. So I thought if a regular wild pitch can get you first, an out-of-play wild pitch should get you the benefit of the doubt that you could've made it to second, just like a crazy out-of-play hit gives you the benefit of the doubt to go to second (ground-rule double). Like unlike a walk or hit-by-a-pitch base-granting, this would be on the assumption that had the ball not gone out of play, there's a decent chance the runner could have made it to the base.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 3:48 PM on July 31, 2022

Strictly speaking, ground rules are rules that apply to one specific stadium. For example, there might be specific rules for what happens when the ball hits the roof of a domed stadium. So a batted ball that bounces over the outfield fence is just a double, not a "ground rule double." You still hear MLB announcers use the words "ground rule" even though they must know better; it's common usage.

Its possible that a stadium could have a ground rule that a passed ball was dead if it hit in a particular place behind the catcher.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:56 AM on August 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

I had this happen once in little league - a pitch rolled out of a hole in the backstop behind the catcher. It was basically ruled a ground rule double. It was also 3rd strike, so the runner advanced to 2nd. Then my coach came and fixed the fence on Monday after the game. Honestly I hated little league (both playing and coaching because it was nothing but rules lawyering).
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:15 AM on August 1, 2022

"If, however, the pitched or thrown ball goes through or by the catcher or through the fielder, and remains on the playing field, and is subsequently kicked or deflected into the dugout, stands or other area where the ball is dead, the awarding of bases shall be two bases from position of runners at the time of the pitch or throw."

This part was the fun part. If the catcher bobbled the ball on the pitch is it the first case of deflection or the 2nd? If it touches the edge of the catchers' foot incidentally, is that a 'kick'?

Then watch grown men fight about children.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:22 AM on August 1, 2022 [1 favorite]

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