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Tags and touches at third base

3 replies [Last post]
Roy Giusti
Joined: 06/07/2010

During our scrimmage at Bella Vista this Saturday we had a difference of opinion on the base umpire's and plate umpire's responsibilities on tags and touches at third base. As I understand the mechanics, the base umpire is responsible for touches and tags at first and second and the plate umpire is responsible for all tags and touches at third. There are some special situations when a plate umpire may help out on a trailing tag up on a difficult catch/no catch in the outfield, but for the most part, the division of responsibilities as stated above is true in a two man system.
Specificly,with a runner at second,the touch at third on a base hit is the responsibility of the plate umpire. The base umpire should NOT EVEN CHECK the runner rounding third base. He should be watching the ball and checking the trailing runner(s) for missed touches and interference/obstruction. He should move toward the working area to take possible plays at first and second. The plate umpire should position himself to see the tag at third and get back to the point of the plate to react to a possible play there.
Additionally, with no runners on, the B/U has the batter/runner all the way to third including the tag and the P/U stays home.
Finally, with runners at first and second and a fly ball to the outfield, the B/U has the the tags for both runners and the P/U has the play at third if R2 tags up. Note: If R2 tags and continues to the plate, the P/U has the touch at third.
If there is an appeal at third for a missed base, the P/U has the call. The B/U should not rule on the appeal. It is NOT his call!
If I am misunderstanding the mechanics please let us know how you would handle it. Thanks
Roy Giusti

umpdan's picture
Joined: 06/11/2007
Reply to: Touches at Third -know your responsilities


Your description is almost correct or mostly correct.

The Base umpire the following base touch and tag responsibilities

Touch of the base

batter runner at all bases
preceding runners (all those in front of the batter/runner) at first and second

Tag ups

All tag ups at first and second

Plate umpires have the following base touch and tag up responsibilities


has the touch of home for all runners. (unless called off by the base umpire after going out for a trouble ball)
has the touch of all proceeding runners at third base. (all runners except the batter/runner)

Tag ups.

All tag ups on fly ball for runners at third base.

These are the umpires who should render a judgment on these plays. At no time should your partner make this call (unless you see your partner is just lost and not going to make a call)

So yes in Roy scenario the plate umpire should have the missed base call on the runner rounding third from second base. Now as far at the base umpire checking. He could check only if all his other responsibilities are covered. He should then look as a secondary responsibility (always have your partners back)the only time he would be able to use the information gathered by looking would be if his partner decided to ask him for help. This should not normally happen. But It could on fly ball down the first base line with fair/ foul considerations. The plate umpire then has primary responsibilities for any tag up at third, the base touch at third, and the fair/foul call.

The plate umpire must then use his call priorities to determine what to look at.
1. Ball/strike
2. Fair/Foul
3. Catch/No Catch
4. Plays or Impending plays
5. Base touches/Tag ups

Since touches and tags are fifth on the list of responsibilities the need to watch any of the others at the same time the base touch or tag occurs can cause the official not to actually see the event. He then must use his best estimate by looking after the touch or tag has occurred. If the player is a reasonable distance away they should be given "the benefit of the doubt".

Once again in these circumstances the base umpire should not be just standing there doing nothing. He should be umpiring by taking in as many things as he can in order of his responsibilities. Taking care of his primary responsibilities first then looking at the other events to be a backup for his partner.

It is a team effort. Roy's post show the frustration that can occur when responsibilities are not clear.

Roy Giusti
Joined: 06/07/2010
Touchs and Tags

I believe my original statement still stands. You say the B/U's 5th responsibility is the tag at third. It is 3rd on the list of the P/U behind Fair/Foul, Catch/No Catch. If you want the B/U to take the tag at third on a fiy ball down the first base line, two things must happen. First, you better cover the mechanic in your pre-game. Second, The B/U must back up into the dirt part of the infield so he can see the catch and the tag by R3 without having to snap his head around. But then who has the B/R touch at first? The B/U cannot take the tag at third if he has other runners on. Pro mechanics state that the P/U has both the ball and the tag at third because, should there be a no catch, he has the B/R touch at first and a possible play at second. The Pro mechanic says that the P/U should got up the line only as far as the play allows and then chech the tag at third and get back to plate. The theory being that the F/F, C/NC is the primary call. Most other mechanics teach that the P/U can backup, first base extended, to make the call so that the P/U doesn't have to snap his head to check the runner at third. I perfer the the first base extended option. 
It is extremely important that we know our responsibilities on each and every play. I believe that we sometimes miss plays because we are trying to do too much or are so unsure as to what our jobs are that neither one of us see the play. Pro schools hammer the concept: know your responsibilities. I think we should do the same thing.

Roy Giusti
Joined: 06/07/2010
Tags and Touches update

Thanks for the discussion at the meeting last night. The consensus was that although the info was correct, there are always ways a partner can help out. One factor not considered earlier was the fielder diving for the fly ball near the line. We agreed that the P/U should move up the line as far as the play allows to make the F/F, C/NC. He may have to stay with the ball so long that seeing R3 tag is not possible. You can guess and be prepared to tell the coach, " it was close enough ". Or, with no other runners on, you can count on your partner giving you help on the tag. Communication is key. The B/U must yell," I've got the tag ", releasing you to go up the line with the expectation that you will have to be able to get back to the plate. Since the B/U is taking himself out of position to see the touch at first by the B/R, you as the P/U now have the touch at first. 
With multiple runners on, the B/U may not be able to help out so you will be on your own. Divison of responsibility is still very important but an aware partner may be able to help in these types of situations giving the crew a better chance of getting these "nasty situations" right.  


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