Hit by Pitch
When a Batter Should Not be Awarded First Base
It may seem obvious when a batter is hit by a pitch and awarded first base, but there are some cases where a base may not be awarded.
- If the ball touches the batter as the batter swings at the ball. This basically means that if the batter is swinging at the ball and the act of swinging has caused the ball to hit the batter, then the ball is a strike. Example: Batter swings and the ball hits him on the forearm as he's swinging. The ball is dead and it is a strike. If the hitter has two strikes, it is strike 3 not a foul ball. This isn't called often as most of the time the player will stop the swing and be hit by the ball. In that case most umpires will determine that the player is attempting to get out of the way by not continuing the swing. So, even though the act of swinging has caused the ball to hit the batter, the umpire may determine that player attempted to get out of the way and award the batter first base.
- The ball touches the batter in the strike zone. Example: Batter is fooled by a curve ball and ducks. He is hit in the head, but his head is over the plate and in the strike zone. The correct call is a strike.
- If the batter makes no attempt to get out of the way of the ball. This normally occurs at higher levels of baseball where a player may "take one for the team". Make sure to check your rule book as some leagues will allow this. What is not allowed is for a player to intentionally get in the way of the ball. For example a player cannot turn his shoulder in towards the plate for the purpose of getting hit by the ball.
- If the ball hits the bat in the act of swinging and then touches the batter. The correct ruling is a foul ball and the batter should not be awarded first base.
When a Batter Should be Awarded First Base
In addition to a batter being hit out of the strike zone while attempting to get out of the way, there are a couple of misconceptions about being hit by the pitch where people will think the batter should not be awarded first and in fact they should be.
- The hand is not part of the bat. Many people think that the hand is part of the bat and that a player shouldn't be awarded first if hit in the hand. This is incorrect. As long as the batter is attempting to get out of the way and is hit in the hand, then the correct call is to award the player first base.
- A pitched ball that hits the batter after bouncing is not a dead ball. Some people believe that once a pitched ball has hit the dirt and then hits the batter, it is a dead ball and should be called a ball. This is incorrect and the batter should be awarded first base.
- A pitched ball that touches the players clothing but not the player. As long as the uniform is properly fitting, the batter should be awarded first base.
- A pitched ball hits a batter and then hits the bat. Once the ball hits the batter, the ball is dead and the batter should be awarded first base.