23 ways to first

Bethany Heck

There are (arguably) 23 ways to get to first either as a runner or a batter, but how do you score them? I’m trying to figure that out myself. The chart above most likely contains several errors, so I was wondering if any of our more knowledgeable scorekeeping aficionados would mind shedding some light on how to denote some of the stranger occurrences on the list. Here is a list of the 23 ways to first (courtesy of Eric Enders, who works for the MLB Hall of Fame) as I understand them. Please note that this is a rather controversial list and I am merely using it as an exercise.

1. Walk
This is simple enough. You are awarded first base if during an at bat you accumulate four balls.

2. Intentional Walk
If the opposing team deliberately walks you by throwing four pitches well outside the opposing batter’s box.

3. Hit By Pitch
If you are struck by a pitch during an at bat that you did not swing at, you are awarded first base.

4. Dropped Third Strike
If the third strike of an At Bat is misplayed you have the opportunity to run to first. IF you beat out the throw, it still counts as a strike out, but you are awarded first base.

5. Failure to deliver pitch within 20 seconds
MLB Rule 8.04: “When the bases are unoccupied, the pitcher shall deliver the ball to the batter within 20 seconds after he receives the ball. Each time the pitcher delays the game by violating this rule, the umpire shall call “Ball.” The intent of this rule is to avoid unnecessary delays. The umpire shall insist that the catcher return the ball promptly to the pitcher, and that the pitcher take his position on the rubber promptly. Obvious delay by the pitcher should instantly be penalized by the umpire.”

6. Catcher’s interference
If any part of the catcher’s equipment interferes with the batter’s swing, it is ruled catcher’s interference and the batter gets first base.

7. Single
Finally, and easy one!

8. Fielder’s Choice
If you hit a ball in play and the defense chooses to get another runner out instead, you’re on first but you are not awarded with a hit.

9. Fielder Obstruction
If a fielder alters the running path of a baserunner or physically touches him when not in the process of fielding a ball, this is called obstruction.

10. Fielder’s Interference
Interference and obstruction are two different things. From what I gather, interference is more concerned with sneaky things like a catcher reaching out and touching a batter before a pitch is thrown, or if a fielder tried to do something to prevent a batter from hitting a pitch. I would imagine if the shortstop all the sudden did a triple roundoff as a pitch was being thrown he could be called for interference.

11. Spectator Interference
Spectator interference is when the presence of a fan hinders a fielder’s ability to catch a ball, such as a fan reaching out and touching a live ball in play.

12. Fan Obstruction
This one is pretty fuzzy to me, I’m not sure the difference between interference and obstruction when it comes to fans.

13. Force Out
If another runner is forced out at another base and you still reach first (yes, this is doubling up with #8.)

14. 4 Illegal Pitches in an At Bat
If a pitcher alters the ball (scratching, scuffing or using a foreign material to affect it) that pitch is declared an illegal pitch. 4 of these in an AB will get you first base. Further research suggests this might be scored as a walk.

15. Failed Sacrifice Bunt
Also related to #8. If you put down an intended sacrifice bunt and the runner in front of you is out instead of you, you’re on first, but you’re guilty of being a failure at the same time.

16. Dropped Sacrifice Fly
Basically the same thing as #20. If you hit a sacrifice that is misplayed you reach first but are not awarded a hit.

17. Fair Ball Hits Runner
If a fair ball hits a runner the runner is declared out.

18. Fair Ball hits Umpire
MLB Rule 5.09(f) Comment: “If a fair ball touches an umpire working in the infield after it has bounded past, or over, the pitcher, it is a dead ball. If a batted ball is deflected by a fielder in fair territory and hits a runner or an umpire while still in flight and then is caught by an infielder it shall not be a catch, but the ball shall remain in play.”

If it’s a dead ball that means the runners advance one base, to my understanding.

19. Runner called out on Appeal
I’m not sure how this can be correct, I can’t think of an instance where a runner would be called out on appeal yet you would be awarded a base.

20. Reached on Error
If you manage to reach first because of an error you don’t get credit for a hit, but you’re still on first.

21. Pinch Runner
If you replace a runner on first, you didn’t earn it, but you’re still standing on first, aren’t you?

22. Runner in front in Put Out
This is a twist on the Fielder’s choice that is specific to instances such as the runner ahead of you being tagged out.

23. Runner on first is replaced after a delay
This occurs if a player reaches first, the game is delayed, and the player is traded before the game can be made up.

8 Comments on “23 ways to first”

  • Russ

    Not sure I’ve run into all of these, but I know for a fact that a fair ball hitting the umpire is a single (if the batter only reaches first) because it happened to me as a batter.

    The other team complained and the umpire said he is considered part of the playing surface. (He then suspended the game claiming he didn’t get out of the way because it was too dark to see the ball. I said “It wasn’t too dark for me to hit the pitch!” The umpire prevailed.)

    01-26-11 » 1:56 pm »

  • Bethany Heck

    Haha, the Umpire ALWAYS prevails! Thanks for the real-life example, Russ.

    01-26-11 » 2:19 pm »

  • dbish

    genius post/chart and genius rebuttal to the ump.

    01-26-11 » 4:29 pm »

  • Bethany Heck of Eephus League continues to create amazing… | Baseball Bloggers Alliance

    […] Bethany Heck of Eephus League continues to create amazing pieces, this time bringing us the proper way to score the 23 possible ways one can get to first base.  […]

    01-26-11 » 7:20 pm »

  • Dan

    Nice work. I’m not sure there are official notations for some of the more obscure ones (also, technically, I think failure to deliver a pitch within 20 seconds would still be a walk, though ball four might not actually be thrown). I’ve never encountered some of them in all my years of watching (nearly 30 overall, but quite heavily in the last 13) and scoring (not every game), and if I did, I’d probably draw the line to first and put an asterisk or something, then elaborate in the margins.

    01-27-11 » 12:09 am »

  • Bethany Heck

    I am with you, Dan, sometimes you just have to slap up a question mark and explain elsewhere! I’ve had someone else tell me that 4 illegal pitches is just ruled a walk, so I need to do some updates to the chart.

    01-27-11 » 4:31 pm »

  • Ulysses

    If you do not throw the ball within 20 seconds is a walk. An intention walk is a walk yes in the score book you write an I but the batter got to first on a walk. It is like a strike out, looking or swinging it is still a strike out. Hitting an umpire is like hitting a player, if one or more fielders could make a play on the ball it is ruled a dead ball and runner is out batter gets first base. Ruled a single. If the ball had passed a fielded besides the pitcher then hit a runner or umpire the ball is live and nothing is called. 23) is called a SUB if player 2 is replacing player 1. If you drop a Sac fly, then you reacdhed on a error, still given a sac-F if a runner advances. If no runner adavaces it is just an error. You do not get first base on an appeal play with the runner out. Fielder choice is the same if the runner out infront is put out or safe. It is a fielders choice because a fielder went for another runner instead of the batter/runner. Not because they got an out or not. The only way you can get a fan to touch a live ball in fair territory, so again the batter/ runner had all ready reached first base and in the umpire judgement call award how many bases the batter/runner would have gotten if there was no interfernce. They did not get the base becase of the interfernce, meaning if a shot to RF fans hits the ball but falls into the playing field and because the batter/runner was standing at home watching the play. F9 picks the ball up and throw to 1B the batter is out. He does not get the base becasue it was touched. Judgment call. Illegal pitch is balk when there is no runners on base, for example a quick pitch. A player does not have 23 ways of reaching 1B, now when scoring because it is meant to tell the story on how the game went, there is more ways to write down how the player reach first. If you wanted to really spilt hair the answer is 2. 1) from the batters box and 2) from the dugout.

    03-25-12 » 8:00 pm »

  • Scoop Miller

    It actually is possible to reach first safely as a result of an appeal (but I would consider this a stretch). Very complicated to explain, but possible. If a batter had a hit a double (with 2 out) and was thrown out trying to advance to 3rd base on the play, and another runner who started on third (or possibly 2nd)had scored on the play but had missed stepping on home, before the defense left the playing field they could appeal home and make that the third out which in turn would “credit” the batter with first base (at the end of the inning) rather than being awarded 2nd base and then put out at 3rd base. So, as a result the batter basically was credited with first base when the inning officially ended rather than 2nd. Pretty weak, I agree, but that is the only way my little brain could come up with that one.

    01-16-13 » 12:07 pm »

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