The Ole Ball Game

Can a batter steal first after a foul tip strike 3?

by Chris
(Ohio)

Chris asked: Last night in my daughter's high school softball game, a batter (for the other team) had a strike 3 foul-tip, which our catcher caught and hung onto.


The batter ran to first while our catcher turned to show the home plate umpire that she had caught the ball.

The umpire didn't say anything and allowed the batter/runner to stay at first base. Is this correct?


Rick answered: Chris, thank you for your question.

There is no scenario in baseball or softball where a batter can steal first base.

A strike three, foul tip that is caught by the catcher is an out.

The call should have been strike three, batter out. If the umpire lets it go until the batter reaches first base, it is still an out.

There are only two options the umpire had.

1. It was a caught foul tip, strike three, batter out.

2. Swing and miss, strike three, catcher drops ball, batter can run. Catcher needs to throw the runner out.

What was the umpire's rationale for allowing the batter-runner to stay at first base?

The coach must have come out and asked for a ruling.

Was it a clear foul tip? Maybe he thought the batter did not swing and that it was ball four, if indeed she had a 3 ball count?

Did the plate umpire ask for help from the base ump?

I would guess that, in real time at the field, this call got a little testy. Be interested in some additional details.

Yours in baseball,

Rick

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May 11, 2015
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Can a batter steal first after a foul tip strike 3? (additional details)
by: Chris

Thanks Rick. I was driving myself nuts wondering if there was some exception to the rules that I wasn't considering.

Yes, the coach went out to argue the call and the umpire was literally silent. The base ump was not asked to get involved, and therefore didn't.

I'll just chalk it up as a blown call.

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