Dear Cecil: During a slow moment in our Regulation of Gene Expression class at school the other day, the prof posed the following question: “What are the five ways of reaching first base without hitting the ball?” Most of us being graduate students, we had no problem coming up with four — a walk, hit by pitch, dropped third strike, and catcher’s interference — but the fifth, if indeed it exists, remains an unknown. Can you enlighten us? Geoffrey S., for Bio Science 447, Chicago
The Straight Dope, always willing to go that extra mile, not only gives you number five, but throws in number six, too, at absolutely no extra charge.
According to Official Rule 7.05 (h), the batter and base runners get one base “if a ball, pitched to the batter or thrown by the pitcher from his position on the pitcher’s plate to a base to catch a runner, goes into a stand, or player’s bench, or over or through a field fence or backstop, or is touched by a spectator.”
Alternately, according to 7.05 (i), “on ball four or strike three, when the pitch misses the catcher and lodges in the umpire’s mask or paraphernalia,” the batter and runners are entitled to advance one base. That is, if they can stop laughing long enough.
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