Mickey Mantle Breaks Up A Double Play – 1961
Is The Take-Out Slide About To Be Made Illegal?
New York – May 13 – ON THE DOUBLE – Mickey Mantle of the New York Yankees is force out victim at second base and Detroit Tigers’ shortstop Chico Fernandez gets off throw to first to complete double play in fourth inning at New York’s Yankee Stadium today. Behind Mantle is Tigers second baseman Jake Wood, who fielded Bill Skowron’s grounder and started the twin killing by tossing to Fernande. Tigers won 8-3 (AP Wirephoto – 1961)
This is a play you may never see again.
Mickey Mantle is nowhere near second base and certainly does not look like he is sliding. No, the Mick is definitely trying to take out Chico Fernandez and stop a double play. It was a legal play in 1961, but soon it may not be.
After the 2015 playoff injury to the Mets Ruben Tejada when the Dodgers Chase Utley steamrolled him in a violent collision, Major League Baseball decided to review the rules governing taking out a fielder during a slide. There is a strong possibility of introducing a rule in the near future to stop a runner from barreling into a fielder.
There is already a rule in the books, Rule 5.09(a)(13), which states:
A batter is out when — A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play. Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.
I don’t believe that any player should intentionally hurt another player in sliding, but taking out the fielder who is trying to complete a double play should not be made illegal or penalized with the threat of suspension if the fielder gets hurt.
If a runner is in the baseline, and the fielder is near the base, the runner should be able to take out the fielder. Anyone who has played baseball knows the runner is not so much premeditated in approaching a base on a ground ball, but reacting out of the specific situation that arises and instantly trying to figure out how close the play will be. In other words, spontaneous action based on instinct on how to stop the completion of a double play should not be removed from the game of baseball.
Usually there is no attempt to injure the opposing player. If there is, then it should be dealt with appropriately.
The rule is already there. There is no need to change what is on the books. Just enforce it.