On occasion, it is easy to go down a rabbit hole of watching interesting plays that have happened in the game of baseball. The other day, I saw a few videos where MLB players were able to accidentally hit the ball twice in one swing. Sometimes the play was allowed to go on, sometimes the play was ruled a foul ball, and sometimes the batter was called out. This had me wondering about the rules around what happens if the bat hits the ball twice in baseball.
As a general rule, it is up to the umpire to determine if there was batter interference when the bat hits the ball twice. When the batter intentionally hits the ball twice, the batter is out. When the batter accidentally hits the ball twice, the play can be ruled a foul ball, dead ball, or an out.
As it turns out, this rule is more complicated than what can be explained in one or two sentences. There are also scenarios in which the umpire allows the play to continue when the ball hits the bat twice.
What is the Rule for when the Ball Hits the Bat Twice?
Even though there can be differences in the rules between the different levels of baseball, one of the best places to start looking into baseball rules is by looking at the MLB rulebook.
Here is what the official MLB rules has to say about what happens when the ball hits the bat twice:
“After hitting or bunting a fair ball, his bat hits the ball a second time in fair territory. The ball is dead and no runners may advance. If the batter-runner drops his bat and the ball rolls against the bat in fair territory and, in the umpire’s judgment, there was no intention to interfere with the course of the ball, the ball is alive and in play. If the batter is in a legal position in the batter’s box, see Rule 5.04(b)(5), and, in the umpire’s judgment, there was no intention to interfere with the course of the ball, a batted ball that strikes the batter or his bat shall be ruled a foul ball”– Rule 5.09(a)(8)
These official MLB rules outline three specific scenarios that could cause a batter to hit the ball twice and probably cover a vast majority of the times a bat would hit the ball twice. However, there is also a comments section directly after this rule that outlines some additional scenarios of a bat hitting a ball twice and what the ruling should be.
Below is a table that breaks down all seven scenarios covered by the MLB rulebook of what the call should be whenever a bat hits a ball twice.
|1) Ball is hit into fair territory and the bat hits the ball again||Dead ball|
|2) Without interference, the batter drops the bat in fair territory and the ball hits the bat again||Ball is live|
|3) A broken-bat lands in fair territory and it hits the ball, runner, or fielder||Ball is live|
|4) Without interference, the bat hits the ball twice while the batter is still positioned within the batter’s box||Foul ball|
|5) A broken-bat lands in foul territory and hits the ball||Foul ball|
|6) Intentional or not, a whole bat is thrown into fair or foul territory and it interferes with the fielder||Batter’s interference|
|7) The umpire believes a batter intentionally hits the ball a second time with their bat||Batter’s interference|
Examples and Outcomes of Players Hitting the Ball Twice
Reading about a rule can be beneficial, but oftentimes it is even more beneficial to see some real-world examples of how a rule played out. Before we go over a few examples of how players can hit the ball twice with their bat, let’s take a look at the video below that shows a compilation of a player hitting a ball twice with a bat.
Hitting a Baseball Twice with a Bunt
Hitting a baseball two times with a bat is already a play that doesn’t happen too often, but if it were to happen then there’s a good chance you’ll see it happen when a player is attempting to bunt the ball.
In this scenario, a batter will square up to bunt while the pitcher is delivering the ball. When the ball hits the bat, the ball dives straight down into the ground, causing it to bounce back up and accidentally hit the bat again while the batter is still positioned in the batter’s box.
This play happens so quickly that batters don’t have enough time to react and it is quite clearly an unintentional play. Because the batter is still positioned within the batter’s box, the umpire will rule the play a foul ball.
Hitting a Baseball Twice with a Broken Bat
Another common way for a baseball to be hit with a bat twice is when there is a broken bat. There are generally two ways a broken bat can hit the baseball twice – a broken bat will fly off of the handle and hit the ball again, or the bat will slightly break and cause the bat to hit the baseball again.
Below is an quick example of a bat being slightly broken, causing the player to hit the baseball three times in one swing.
Hitting a Foul Ball on the Backswing
Sometimes a player will hit a baseball once during their normal swing and once while they are following through to complete their swing. In this scenario, the play is almost always unintentional because the player’s follow-through swing accidentally hits the baseball a second time.
As you can see from the video below, Adrián Beltré swung at a pitch and then accidentally hit the ball again during his backswing. The umpire correctly rules the play a foul ball.
Hitting a Fair Baseball Again Outside of the Batter’s Box
Whether or not a player intentionally hits the ball again when they are outside of the batter’s box, the batter will be called for batter’s interference.
As an example of how this scenario could play out, check out the quick video below where José Rondón hits the baseball twice – once during his normal swing and one more time as he’s leaving the batter’s box.
Additional Examples of Players Hitting a Baseball Twice in One Swing
For some additional examples of MLB players hitting a baseball twice with one swing, check out the video compilation below, courtesy of Sporting Videos.