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Vinnie Catricala Strikes Out After One Pitch

Updated on September 2, 2013

One pitch strike out

How to strike out after only one pitch

Baseball: a game where innings can drag on to infinity; strange and slightly unnerving large, hairy mascots roam unchecked; and basically anything can happen on any given day. American as apple pie, convoluted as lawyer’s loopholes.

In a Double-A game Friday night, third baseman Vinnie Catricala struck out on one single pitch.

Yes, a batter may be called out, even after one single pitch. The applicable ruling in this situation is 6.02 (c) which states “If the batter refuses to take his position in the batter’s box during his time at bat, the umpire shall call a strike on the batter. The ball is dead, and no runners may advance. After the penalty, the batter may take his proper position and the regular ball and strike count shall continue. If the batter does not take his proper position before three strikes have been called, the batter shall be declared out.”

Because Catricala decided to step out of the batter’s box to contest a strike call, he ended up with two more strikes against him and was called out after only one pitch.

The original rule 6.02 (c) has an addendum which reads “Comment: The umpire shall give the batter a reasonable opportunity to take his proper position in the batter’s box after the umpire has called a strike pursuant to Rule 6.02(c) and before the umpire calls a successive strike pursuant to Rule 6.02(c).”

This phrasing “reasonable opportunity” seems rather arbitrary to me. In fact, person A’s take on ‘reasonable opportunity’ may vary significantly from person B’s take on the same time frame. I’m not entirely sure but the total time that Catricala spent outside of the batter’s box, at 9.4 seconds, may or may not be considered ‘reasonable opportunity’.

This interim may be open for debate.

That being said, it is entirely possible that the phraseology ‘reasonable opportunity’ may constitute something entirely different for a baseball umpire than it may mean to the general public. On the other hand, it may be that something so arbitrary should be allowed some latitude due to the fact that the ruling is fairly obscure.

Let it not be said that random and obscure are not beneficial things for baseball. It is entirely possible that the only thing keeping such a lengthy, sedate game alive is the fact that every once in awhile, something totally unexpected might happen.

How often do you expect to see a batter called out on a single pitch? Vinnie Catricala is in the unique position of being both famous and infamous at the same time. Not only is he the person bringing media headlines to the game of baseball, and baseball’s minor league team, the Midland Rock Hounds; but he may be lambasted in perpetuity for being one of the only batters to be struck out after only one pitch.

What must it feel like, to be called out after only one pitch? The Corpus Christie Hooks’ pitcher, Nick Tropeano, must be both elated and appalled. Imagine for a moment, the feeling of being in the either the pitcher’s shoes, or those of the batter.

The first pitch is thrown and a strike is called. Feeling that this is an erroneous call, the batter steps out of the box to take a moment and another strike is called. At this moment (3.9 seconds after leaving the box) you now have been served one pitch but have had two strikes called against you.

This must be, in a way, devastating.

Think, if you will, that you disagreed with the first call of a strike. Stepping out of the box to regain your equanimity, after 3.9 seconds the umpire reaches a decision that another strike should be called against you. You are flabbergasted because you are fairly unaware of the obscure ruling the umpire is utilizing to make his decision. You take a deep breath and attempt to regain your focus.

At the end of 9.4 seconds after you initially stepped away from the batter’s box, you are now called ‘out’ by the umpire. Out.

A bit of a surprise there, being called out after only one pitch.

The recipient of this particular call must be fielding a wide range of emotions. The insane disbelief of the call must initially war with the irritation of the fact that there was not any consideration of the fact that the ruling was obscure and rarely invoked. There was no allowance for the fact that there was already a call under dispute, that the batter’s emotions were high, that the batter was attempting to regain composure after a minor disagreement.

Viewing the video, it appears that strike two was called with almost no regard for anything. There were exactly 3.9 seconds after Catricala stepped out of the box until the umpire called strike two. As this is something that rarely happens, and it does NOT appear that the umpire called it to the attention of Catricala, the A’s minor league 3rd baseman did not take the opportunity then to step back into the box in order to attempt to make the most of his 2nd (and possibly final) pitch.

Because Catricala did not step back into the batter’s box, at the end of the arbitrary ‘reasonable opportunity’ which entailed a total of 9.4 seconds of being out of the box, the umpire called strike three and Catricala was called ‘out’.

Baseball, as American as hot dogs, apple pie, lawyers and Chevrolet. Just take a small glance at the rules for baseball and perhaps it isn’t as insane to believe that our tax codes are as convoluted as they are currently.


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    • TuesdayDangerGirl profile image

      Deety Petersen 4 years ago from Greenwich, CT

      Viewing the video, it doesn't appear that there was much of (if any) attempt to warn Catricala that this was either happening or about to happen.

      The 2nd strike was 3 seconds after he stepped away from the box and does not appear to have a warning before it. In fact, Catricala appears to not even notice the 2nd strike called.

      Of course, I wasn't there nor can I hear the conversation. I'm merely going by actions and gestures.

    • jericho911 profile image

      Kenneth Claude 4 years ago from Parts Unknown

      I am an umpire but I have only added an extra strike one time for a similar reason. Usually, I will warn them that they should get back in the box immediately or a strike will be called and they rush right in there.