The Ole Ball Game

Is the umpire part of the field?

by Howard
(Arizona)

Howard asked: In Major League Baseball on 6/24/14 Joe West was umpiring behind first base.


The batter hit a line drive that hit the umpire squarely in the stomach while he was standing near the foul line.

The ball, however, after hitting the umpire, did not bounce in foul territory. The ball landed in fair territory in short right field.

The ball was called foul by umpire Joe West.

What rule makes a batted ball foul even though it first hits in fair play? Was the call of foul therefore correct?


Rick answered: Howard, thank you for your question.

There are two sections in the rule book which deal with fair and foul balls.

Section 5 Base hit Art 1... A fair ball is a batted ball which:

f. while on or over fair territory touches the person of an umpire or player, their clothing or equipment.


Section 16 foul, foul tip Art 1...A foul is a batted ball:

d. that, while on or over foul territory, touches the person of an umpire or a player or any object foreign to the natural ground.


The answer lies in where Joe West was located, at the time the ball hit him.

For him to call the ball foul, then he must have been standing in foul territory.

If so, even if the ball were to land fair, it was foul immediately on contact with him in foul territory.

If it was determined he was in fair ground when the ball hit him, it would have been called fair.

Difference is all in the umpire's location at the time hit.


Yours in baseball,

Rick

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