Line drive hit to left field, no outs, a runner on first base. Left fielder picks up the ball throws it to second to get the forced out. You see the tag on the bag….boom – you’ve got an out, the ball is thrown to first for another forced out….but you were concentrating so hard on the first call, you don’t know whether the ball beat the runner at first or not! Ever have this happen to you?…..I’ve got the remedy!!
Ever hear of the saying: “Don’t take your eyes off the ball!”….this holds true!!!
In this situation, the field umpire will watch the tag at second base, while the ball is in the fielder’s hand, the field umpire (watching the ball) will take two/three steps towards first base – KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE BALL – watch the ball leave the fielder’s hand and go into the first baseman’s glove. NOW, the trick here is, if the ball hits the first base glove and the runner is past the base, you have a “safe” call. If the runner hasn’t touched the bag yet, you have an “out” call.
“Let the ball take you to the play”!
Now, your question is probably, but what if the runner is past first base, how do I know whether he actually touched the base? This is where the Plate Umpire comes in handy (another reason why there are two umpires out on the field). The Plate Umpire’s job is to watch for the touch at first base (there are other responsibilities of the plate umpire – but that will come later in another email). If the runner misses first base, it is an APPEAL from the coaches asking whether he missed the bag. As a umpire, you hear that an appeal is going to be made, if I’m the plate umpire, I will tap my chest letting you know that I have the call on the appeal play….meaning, that I saw whether the runner has touched first base or not.
The other problem is that another player could block your view…or the first baseman’s foot may be off the bag. In this case, BEFORE you make a call, point to your plate umpire for help!
Got it?…if you would like me to demonstrate it…I’ll be more than happy to show you!