Essential – Obstruction vs Interference

Obstruction vs Interference

For my first “essentials” post, I wanted to focus on obstruction vs interference.  Along with balls and strikes, and force plays, the concept obstruction vs interference is at the very core of baseball and softball.  Watch enough little league games, and you will see the following play (or volunteer to umpire a game and this will happen in the very first game you do!):

runner on 2nd, ground ball to the shortstop, the runner stays in the baseline and goes straight to the bag and, as a result, the fielder is unable to field the ball.

Half of them are yelling “interference” and half are yelling “he was in the base line”…they are all right!

Simply put, the fielder has the absolute right to field a batted ball. any act that hinders the fielder from fielding the batted ball is interference. Conversely, the runner has the absolute right to the base or to his or her basepath if the fielder is not fielding a batted ball or in possession of the ball. Overall, obstruction vs interference is not any more complicated than that – you just have to make sure you know how to enforce it.

Interference is an immediate deadball. In most cases, the runner committing the interference is ruled out and the other runners would return to the last base occupied at the time of the interference.

In most cases, obstruction is a delayed dead ball – meaning that you recognize and announce the obstruction and then wait and see what effect the obstruction has on the play. Simply put, if the runner if put out or denied advancement because of the obstruction, you enforce the obstruction.

Obstruction vs interference is, as I mentioned, one of the basics of baseball rules. My statements above are VERY general and there are a lot of scenarios to consider and familiarize yourself with.  As a matter of fact, just writing this post makes me realize that I have to brush up on obstruction vs interference and the variations and enforcements of each of them.


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