With runners on first and second and no outs, the batter bunts a slow roller down third base line. The third baseman, seeing that he has no play on any of the runners, starts blowing on the ball from his hands and knees, trying to get the ball to go foul. The ball eventually rolls into foul territory where it comes to rest. As half the crowd applauds and the other half protests, you realize it is one of those moments we all dread. Hoping you appear confident, you rule:
Ruling: This is a fair ball. The fielder is using artificial means to induce the ball to become foul. As soon as a fielder blew on the ball, it is judged to be the same as if he had touched it. So, since the ball was on fair ground at the time he blew on it, the ball is fair. The ball stays live and in play.
Let's work plays in the outfield and do a two-parter. 1) A fly ball hit deep to right field along the foul pole, hits the right fielder on the head (the outfielder was in fair ground at the time). The ball bounces off his head and in flight goes over the outfield fence but does so on the foul side of the foul pole. 2) A fly ball is hit deep to left center. The ball hits the fence, bounces off the fence and still in flight hits the left fielder in the head and goes over the fence. Both coaches, several hundred fans and your partner want to know: Is it a home run? You just want to go home.
Ruling: Both situations result in a ground rule double. While in the first play it looks the same as Jose', it cleared the fence over foul ground, not fair. While the coach argued it hit the fielder in fair, and "yes, coach, that is what made it a fair ball," it became dead while over foul ground. Two bases. In Play two, the ball did not clear the fence in flight. When it hit the fence, unless it rolled up the wood on its own (in which case run not walk from the haunted field), it did not clear the fence in flight. Even though it never touched the ground, hitting the fielder and bouncing off him is what put it out after it had touched the fence. Small, yet big differences. And do expect someone to say, "never heard of that before," when you award only two.
With a runner on third and first, the offense attempts a double steal. The batter clearly interferes with the Catcher's attempt to throw out the runner stealing second. The shortstop steps in front of second base and cuts off the throw from the catcher and then fires a bullet to home in time to retire the runner attempting to score. As the defensive team fans roar their approval, you will rule:
Ruling: As you know we have batter interference on this play. The ball is not immediately dead, it is delayed dead to give the defense the opportunity to make the play, if possible. If the play is made, we go on just like the interference did not happen. Otherwise, the ball is dead and the batter is out with all runners returning to the base they occupied at the time of the pitch. The only exception is if the batter interfered, with less than two outs, and the runner was advancing home. In that case, the runner is out, not the batter. Here in our play, the shortstop cuts off the throw so, in essence, the play at second is not made. At that point, the ball is dead and the rest of penalty is invoked. With less than two outs, the runner advancing to home is out, the other runner is returned to first and the batter stays at bat.
The same ruling would be in place if the catcher's throw went into center field; no play is now possible. Ball is dead, runner advancing to home is out, the other runner returns and the batter stays at bat.