Castrovince: Odd, but not out: baseball’s most bizarre rule

From Anthony Castrovince at on April 30, 2020, with mention of SABR members Richard Hershberger and John Thorn:

When Justin Verlander notched his 3,000th strikeout last September, the crowd at Angel Stadium rightly recognized that such a milestone is something to be celebrated — even when the man of the moment is wearing road gray. They saluted Verlander long enough to compel him to doff his cap in recognition of their recognition.

It was a magnanimous moment … mostly. Because even in the midst of Verlander adding to his strikeout total, Angels fans had something to celebrate.

The strikeout victim had reached first base.

Though Kole Calhoun had swung through Verlander’s 88-mph slider for strike three, the ball had dived into the dirt and bounced away from catcher Robinson Chirinos. And by virtue of perhaps the strangest rule in professional sports, Calhoun was able to sprint to first unaffected by the otherwise ineffectual nature of his at-bat. (Calhoun then scored when Verlander’s next pitch to Andrelton Simmons was swatted over the left-center-field wall … but Verlander and the Astros went on to win, anyway.)

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Originally published: May 1, 2020. Last Updated: May 1, 2020.