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Situation Positioning
60' Field

B Position

Runner On 1st Base

Grounders To The Infield

With ground balls to the infield and a runner on 1st base only, there are situations where the plate umpire will take calls at 3rd for a runner advancing from 1st to 3rd and there are situations whereby the base umpire will take on all calls on the bases (except if there ends up being a play at the plate), so pay particular attention to the details below.

With a runner on 1st base only, on a ground ball to the infield (other than those rolling down the foul lines), the plate umpire will swing out from behind the plate a few feet into foul territory in the direction of 3rd base. He/she will be moving towards 3rd base in case the runner originally on 1st should attempt 3rd on the play, in which case the play at 3rd base would belong to the plate umpire. Should the ground ball develop into a double-play situation, as soon as the lead runner is declared out at 2nd base, the plate umpire will stop his/her movement in the direction of 3rd base and will immediately retreat in one of two ways to take his/her usual responsibilities with a ground ball with no one on base. The plate umpire, after the out has occurred at 2nd base, may either (1) retreat straight back down the 3rd base foul line towards home plate so that he/she is looking up the 1st base foul line as the play is being made at 1st base; or (2) he/she may cut straight across the infield towards the 1st base foul line so that he/she again will have a view of the play at 1st base looking up the 1st base foul line.  Both methods are acceptable and in either method the plate umpire will be responsible for monitoring interference (3 foot runners lane), overthrows, swipe tags and a pulled foot.

   If the ground ball is rolling up the 3rd base line, the plate umpire must come out from behind the plate and be prepared to make a fair/foul decision on the ball rolling up the line. If the plate umpire points the ball fair and the ball is then thrown to 1st base, he/she will then continue up the 3rd base line towards 3rd base and assume responsibility of the runner coming from 1st to 3rd. In this situation where the plate umpire is going to take the responsibility of the runner on 1st base continuing on to 3rd base there needs to be a slight variation in the positioning required to make the call. Because the ball has stayed within the confines of the infield and due to the smallness and closeness of the 60- foot diamond, the plate umpire cannot go into the normal position at the 3rd base cutout for the play. Adhering to the "in/out" theory of the 60-foot diamond, (if the ball is in the outfield, you go in; if the ball is in the infield, you stay outside), the plate umpire will go up the 3rd base line staying in foul territory or straddling the line if he/she prefers to observe the play. The umpire will come to a complete stop as the play is being made to 1st or 2nd base.
   If there is any possibility of the runner from 1st advancing to 3rd, the plate umpire will continue up the line in foul territory to a position approximately 9 to 12 feet from 3rd base and from 3 feet off of or straddling the foul line. The umpire will be trying to establish a good 90° angle to the throw from the 1st baseman. The umpire should set up square to 3rd base and turn his/her head to see the play develop. When the throw is released, the umpire will let the ball turn his/her head ahead of the throw as the ball crosses the pitcher's mound area.
   If the ball is overthrown, this position will give the umpire a good position to cut to the inside of the diamond and continue to home plate in fair territory for a possible play at home plate after the overthrow if the runner decides to try to advance from 3rd base.
   Using the above mechanic, the plate umpire will be in a good position to observe any possible plays or make any calls that are necessary. Because of the smallness or the crowded conditions of the 60-foot diamond, the umpire will not have to wait for the throw to clear so that he/she can get into the cutout to make the call. If the umpire was to wait for the throw there would be no way to get into a good set position to make the call. From the above position, the umpire is less likely to be in the way and hit by the throw from the 1st baseman and this positioning gives the 1st baseman a good, unobstructed throwing lane to 3rd base.
   If the ball is fielded and thrown to 2nd base forcing out the runner from 1st the plate umpire would then retreat to either of the two positions described in the first paragraph.
   If the ground ball is rolling up the 1st base line, the plate umpire will go up the 1st base line for the fair/foul decision as well as taking responsibility of the tag/no tag on the batter-runner up to the 30-foot line. In response to this situation, the plate umpire will stay on the line and WILL NOT assume the responsibility of the runner going from 1st to 3rd base. (The base umpire in this case will assume that responsibility). It is a good idea, therefore, for the plate umpire to communicate with his partner on this type of play by saying "I'm on the line, Sam!” Although this must be done with some care so that the infielders are not confused by the umpires’ communications. In any case the base umpire should come to a complete stop as the play is being made to first or second base.
   In any case, the base umpire should be aware that if the ball is rolling up the 1st base line, the plate umpire will be taking responsibility for the fair/foul and will NOT be able to take the usual 1st to 3rd coverage. This makes it very difficult for the base umpire on the occasions when the play is made at 1st with a following (and usually very close) play at 3rd.
   In this situation where the base umpire will have the responsibility of the runner on 1st base continuing to 3rd base after a play at 1st base, the base umpire, as soon as the play at 1st base has been completed and recognizes that the runner is going to continue to 3rd base, will cut across the diamond behind 2nd base (always staying on the outside of the infield).
   The base umpire will try to get to as close as possible to a 90° angle to the throw from the 1st baseman, get set and squared up to the 3rd base bag and let the throw turn him/her into the play. Remember angle is more important than distance. The base umpire will try to get into a position which would normally be somewhere around the "C" position or as close to the play as his/her agility and quickness will allow, but always remembering to come to a complete stop and be set to make the call. Also note that this same mechanic (i.e., plate umpire staying with the ball and remaining on the 1st base line to watch for interference out of the three-foot lane, overthrows, etc.) would also be used on a ground ball fielded in the general vicinity of home plate with a runner on 1st base only in addition to those hit up the 1st base line.
   With a runner on 1st base only, on any ground ball to the infield, the base umpire will step up and turn with the ball, facing the fielder as he/she is fielding the ball. With less than two out the double play is in order and the base umpire must react with good anticipation as to how the play will develop. If the base umpire reads that a double-play attempt will occur, he/she would use the double-play mechanic described below.