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Yep ... play is called the "skunk in the outfield".

A player may take his lead in any direction, but once he becomes set, he establishes a new baseline. He has to retreat either directly to 1st or proceed directly to 2nd from that point with no variance.

Defensing the play is pretty simple. Just pitch. He's too far off to advance to 2nd. If the ball is in play, he's easy to double off.
RFloyd, You'll have to send me a PM and let me know who the school is. I know of only one school that I ever saw do this play. They did it against us and our Coach went off! It's been a couple of years or so ago. However, this school isn't playing in sectionals. Another mom poster and I were just curious if we have it right! Thanks.
Last edited by lafmom
Abandoning the base line or abandoned effort doesn't apply to this play. Abandoned effort only applies when a runner, believing there is no further play, heads for his defensive position or his dugout and the umpire judges that the runner is abandoning his effort to run the bases.
OBR 7.08(a)(2)
NFHS (Fed) 8.4.2 p

The runner, in this case, has simply chosen to take his lead in right field. There is no rule that dictates where a runner must take his lead.
The objective is to get the defense to throw the ball away from the plate so the runner at 3b can easily score.

If you go to page 2 of this forum (Ask the Umpire) and click on Baseline Question originally posted by amaump you'll find a lot of discussion regarding this play.
Last edited by pilsner
I think Pilsner would agree that this play, "Skunk in the outfield" has caused a recent stir...

And many UIC's and League Head umpires who think this is a bush play have used the abandoning the baseline ruling as a reason to rule against it.

I dont like the play as well....but I havent seen it in higher baseball as there is better defenses for it...

But that being said, all of the updated reference materials available to Umpires clearly allow this play. The baseline is established by the runner. its ugly, but its legal..........
Last edited by piaa_ump
The unique thing about this play is where the 1B runner takes his lead. The firstbase runner will take his lead in the outfield. Do not confuse this play with the typical "cat and mouse" or "get in a rundown" play often ran by offensive teams to score a runner from thirdbase. In this play the firstbase runner will take his lead 15-20 feet out on the "outfield grass" half-way between firstbase and secondbase. This lead location will put the runner approximately 65 feet from both firstbase and secondbase. The runner will simply turn and sprint to this "spot" when he take his lead.

When the firstbase gets to his "lead location" the runner will "hold the spot" until a defender, with the baseball, approaches him and is within 15 feet. He should make sure that when he makes a move, he goes directly toward firstbase or secondbase. He must not take a step back under any circumstance. A step backwards will make him in violation of the "base path rule". The "base path rule" is not enforcable until a runner is attempting to avoid a tag or play by the defender. If a runner leaves the base path to avoid a tag or play by a defender, he is out. Many people misinterpret this rule. This rule in no way restricts where a runner may take his lead. He can legally take his lead anywhere he wishes. The runner's base path to firstbase or secondbase is determined by where he is when the defense begins to make a play on him.

If the defense makes no play on the firstbase runner, he will sprint directly to secondbase as quickly as he can on the next pitch. He has used the play to easily steal second safely. If the defense makes a play on the runner he will not panic but will rather hold his spot and wi break at the last possible moment. The thirdbase runner will take a safe but aggressive lead and will read the actions of the defense. When the thirdbase runner or coach feels that the defense has moved out of position or has taken the ball too far out to make the play at home, the runner will break and attempt to score
I've never seen it, but imagine if it could be frustrating if it took the defense by surprise

if playing a team known to use it, i'd guess the pitcher would step off, 3b cover his bag, 2b position himself inches in front of the skunk, blocking his view of the pitcher - if the skunk adjusts his lead so would the 2b screener - you might get an "OUT of basepath" call right there without even making a play

even so, the 3b runner being held really can't get a good lead with the pitcher only 60 ft away

so where does the skunk go in the .4 seconds it takes for the pitcher fire a bb to the 2b for the tag? probably not DIRECTLY to a base

of course I'm assuming a level of play where guys can catch & throw, and the 2b has the arm to throw 100 ft on a play at the plate

my bet is if ya spent 15 minutes defending it once in practice, you could get an easy out or two every time it was used -
defend it a few times and guys would stop using it

Last edited by Bee>
Just like the 'Pickle' or 'Stop And See', the desired result is to get the defense to make a throw on the runner at first.

My most successful tactic has been to employ the ignorance of the umpire to get the out of base line call.

I call time, causing the runner to return to the base. I have a conference at the mound with all the infielders and have the third baseman hide the ball in his glove. If the umpire rules that the play is legal, my defense is set.

Once play resumes, the runner on first heads to the same position and the pitcher runs towards him. Seeing this the runner at third usually breaks or leads allowing the third baseman to apply the tag.

Sometimes the best defense for a trick play is another trick play.

Technically, it’s legal.

The rule was put in place for runners taking leads not directly in a straight line, but abused by bush league coaches to have a player run out in the outfield and “establish their base path” which is obviously in no way even in the right direction to 2B.. but they take advantage of the rule, so no need to get upset.

it’s Bush league no doubt. It’s used mostly by younger teams and to take advantage of younger skill level and cause a blunder to sneak the runner on third home. Teach your kids to defend it, and move on. I get a good laugh at coaches trying to pull these type of shenanigans.

It is a play that you need to have your defense ready for in high school because when run right it is an easy steal of second, but mostly it is usually a run because the guys think it is an easy out.  Guys who run it must make sure that the umpires know the rules or it is regularly called an out for being outside the baseline.  The easiest way to defend it is to step off the rubber and just stand there as a pitcher.  Make the umpire stop play.

Just making something up as I have never seen this in person

Pitcher, SS, 2nd come together in a huddle. 3rd baseman stays put along with 1st baseman and catcher. Have 2nd baseman make a mad dash to tag runner in RF. Hopefully runner on third breaks for home. Then have pitcher (who has the ball the entire time) initiate the run-down at home or 3rd.  If 3rd base runner doesn't break then throw out the runner in RF as he is getting chased back to a bag.

Or just ignore it and treat it like any other 1st to 3rd play.  Never tried, but I would imagine it would be pretty hard to steal second from RF?  Also why wouldn't the pitcher just throw over to 1st once the runner starts to get a lead in a weird direction.  Sounds like at that point the runner would have to start moving toward a base?

If you’ve never practiced defending this tell your pitcher to step off and everyone to listen. Do this even if you’ve practiced defensing the play. You can intimidate them into not doing it.

Yell out ... let him go to the outfield. If we get a pop or line drive then double him off first. On a grounder and maybe a single he’s an easy force at second. Just play it normally.

If the other team realizes you know what you’re doing skunk in the outfield is bad strategy.

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