The Ole Ball Game

On a force play at first, if the infielder dives and touches the bag, does the ball have to be in the same hand that touched the bag?

Photo Bill Stanton:  Checkswing.com

Photo Bill Stanton: Checkswing.com

Anonymous asked: In a youth league with amateur umpires, there was a ball hit to the first baseman. The ball was bobbled and by the time the first baseman recovered and got the ball, he had to dive toward the bag to get the runner out. The ball was in his glove, but he reached out and touched the bag with his bare hand. The runner was called safe. Was this the correct call or should he have been out?


Rick answered: Thank you for your question.

Incorrect call! The force situation was still in effect as the runner had not successfully reached first base yet.

With a force, possession and control of the ball is the first thing, the second is did the fielder touch the base before the batter/runner did? It doesn't matter what part of his/her body touches the base, it is a force out. In the picture above, it is a more conventional force at first, using their foot; but it can be anything as long as they have possesion of the ball.

In a non-force, tag situation, the player must tag the runner with the baseball, either in their glove, or in their bare hand; but the tag must be made by the baseball.

That was actually a very heads up play for a youth baseball game. Too bad they missed the call.

Yours in baseball,

Rick

Comments for On a force play at first, if the infielder dives and touches the bag, does the ball have to be in the same hand that touched the bag?

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Jul 19, 2017
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force out at first? NEW
by: Anonymous

Someone previously said that there can't be a force at first. But what if the bases are loaded, and during a pop fly hit, all runners attempt to advance but the ball is caught. Leaving the batter out, and the runners forced to return to their bases, correct? Causing a forced out at first if that's where the ball is thrown by the defense after the catch. My question is this. Must the runner returning to first be tagged? Or must the defense just touch the base. And if just a touch is enough, must they stay on the base? In this case, my son slid head first back to first base and touched it but was called out as the defense had touched the base and then walked away. It seemed a fair call - but our coaches argued that it must be a tag. Just curious who was right as it likely put the ball in motion (pun intended) for us to lose the game.

Oct 18, 2015
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Similar play
by: Richie

Today we had the same situation but the fielder had the ball in his bare hand and dove and touched it with his empty glove. We gave him the out after a long discussion, but does the glove count as part of the body without the ball in it? I'm assuming it does, but something didn't feel totally right about it.

Sep 16, 2015
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Pitcher Covering First Base
by: Rick,theoleballgame

Anonymous in softball, your coach is correct.

As a pitcher, in softball or baseball, on balls hit to the right side of the infield, you should be headed that direction automatically, just in case.

It could be a ground ball that takes the first baseman off the base, it could be a ground ball that the first baseman goes for; but doesn't get to, and the second baseman fields and will throw to you.

Sometimes the first baseman will start out, the second baseman will yell that they have it, and the first baseman will get back to the base and take the throw.

Pitchers adjust accordingly. You only need to get to the base, if the first baseman can't get there; but you have to immediately start that way on any ball hit, otherwise you will be late.

From the pitcher's circle, head for a spot along the first base line, about 8 feet from the base and, at that point, run parallel to the base line until you get to first base.

Stay inside the baseline. One of two things will happen.

1. If you get to the base before the runner and the throw has yet to be made, slow down and stop at first base and field the throw like a first baseman.

2. More times than not, the first baseman or the second baseman will get the ball to you before you reach the base, which allows you time to catch the ball and also locate the base.

In this situation catch the ball, step on the base and continue past the base, parallel to the baseline, and turn to the inside. This keeps you from colliding with the batter runner.

Success in this situation comes from many repetitions in practice, until it becomes automatic for you to move in that direction on any ball hit that way.

If your team does not routinely do PFP's(pitcher's fielding practice) and work on pitcher's covering first base in that segment, find a time and place that you and your first and second basemen work on it yourself.

If the only work you get on this play is verbally being told to cover first base, you will not instinctively get there when it happens in a game. You need physical repetitions.

Pitchers have a lot on their mind once the game starts. Situational reactions need to be drilled until, no matter what is happening in your mind, your body goes where it needs to be at that time.

If you contact me on my ask a question page, I have more options in explaining situations, through the use of images. I don't have a way to make use of images in the comments section.

Good luck as you go forward.

Yours in baseball ~ softball,

Rick

Sep 16, 2015
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What do i do?
by: Anonymous

I am he pitcher for my school ball team and its my first time pitching. My softball coach told me that the pitcher is suppose to cover the 1st base bag if they have to get pulled off to get a ball that was hit in there area. Is it true that the pitcher is suppose to cover the 1st base bag? if not can you tell me who is suppose to cove the 1st bag when this happens?

Oct 01, 2014
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Force play
by: rick, theoleballgame

Anonymous: Rule 2.00...A tag is the action of a fielder touching a base with his body while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove,or touching a runner with the ball, or with his hand or glove holding the ball, while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove.

It is not a tag, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his touching a base or touching a runner, the fielder drops the ball.

On a routine play at first base, the 1B puts a foot on the base, catches the ball before the runner touches first, the runner is out. It is the same at every base on the field.

The first sentence of the rule allows for any body part to touch the base, as long as the player has control of the baseball with his bare hand, or the ball inside his glove.

Generally speaking, the play will be made by diving to touch the base with your hand; but it does not have to be the hand with the ball in it. Most always it is the opposite hand.

Hope that helps!

Yours in baseball,

Rick




Oct 01, 2014
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FIRST , 2ND, OR 3RD ?
by: Anonymous

SO JUST SO IM CLEAR ON THIS . A FORCE IS A FORCE WETHER ITS AT 1ST , 2ND , OR 3RD . WHEN ITS A FORCE , YOU CAN TOUCH THE BAG WITH ANY PART OF YOUR BODY AS LONG AS YOU HAVE CONTROL OF THE BASEBALL IN YOUR HAND , YOUR POCKET , OR EVEN YOUR MOUTH , THE BATTER IS OUT , RITE ?

Oct 01, 2014
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FIRST , 2ND, OR 3RD ?
by: Anonymous

SO JUST SO IM CLEAR ON THIS . A FORCE IS A FORCE WETHER ITS AT 1ST , 2ND , OR 3RD . WHEN ITS A FORCE , YOU CAN TOUCH THE BAG WITH ANY PART OF YOUR BODY AS LONG AS YOU HAVE CONTROL OF THE BASEBALL IN YOUR HAND , YOUR POCKET , OR EVEN YOUR MOUTH , THE BATTER IS OUT , RITE ?

Jun 05, 2014
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No such thing as a force play at first
by: Bill

There is no such thing as a force play at 1B. You can have a force play at any other base including home plate but not at 1B. Baseball rules describe a force as runners losing their right to a base due to the batter becoming a runner.

Oct 28, 2013
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Force out
by: Jake

Thanks for sharing Rick. The call in game three I believe was correct and I also believe intentional . If you lay flat on your stomach you won't lift your legs up like that when getting up lol also the catcher waited for the runner to get to him which made the chance of throwing out the runner less likely. The catcher took his time and still made a poor throw. Maybe someone will show him how to better field his position in the off season.

Oct 28, 2013
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Fielder Control
by: Rick, theoleballgame

Jake: To record the out, the fielder has to have control of the ball, that is, a catch. The ball can hit the dirt, or even roll all the way to first base, as long as the fielder has control of the ball, with his foot in contact with the bag, before the runner touches the bag.

It would be the same for any force play, anywhere else on the field. As long as the ball remains live, the deciding factor on the force is control and contact with the bag.

If it isn't a force situation, then the fielder has to have control of the ball and tag the runner before the runner can touch the base.

Yours in baseball,

Rick

Oct 27, 2013
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Call at first that broke up perfect game in Detroit
by: Jake

It is my opinion that the umpire made the right call for the wrong reason it would appear after reviewing the replay that the pitcher when covering first-base had the ball in his glove but not securely It was rolling around when the batter reached the bag. The umpire has been ridiculed for the call. I'm a baseball purist and love the game. Please share your opinions

Oct 19, 2013
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Control of the ball for forced out
by: Anonymous

Related Scenario: The pitcher throws a live ball to first for the forced out - but falls short of the base and the ball rolls along the ground. The first baseman has his foot on the base and has to reach forward to secure a ball on the ground with his glove and hand. My question -is the runner out if the ball has any contact with the field (ie. grass) or does the referee make a judgement call regarding whether the fielder had complete control of the ball? Thanks.

May 31, 2013
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FORCE OUT
by: Anonymous

A FIELDER PLAYS CATCHES THE BALL ON A COUPLE BOUCES. HE THEN DIVES TO THE BAG AFTER BOBBLING THE BALL TO TRY ANF FORCE THE RUNNER OUT AT THIRD. HE DIVES AND TOUCHES THE BAG WITH BARE HAND AND BALL IN THAT SAME HAND FACE DOWN AND ON THE BAG. THE RUNNER WAS CALLED OUT BY FORCE OUT. MY THOUGHTS ARE THE RUNNER WAS SAFE BECAUSE THE BALL WAS ON THE GROUND AND NOT IN CONTROL.

May 13, 2013
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Double play
by: Jim

Rick,
Similar situation occurred tonight. Runner on third with one out. Line drive to third, my third baseman made a diving catch. He then crawled to the bag and reached out with his bare hand to touch the bag (the ball was in his glove). Umpire called him safe saying he had to touch the bag with either his foot or the hand holding the ball. When I questioned the rule the other umpires agreed with him (which got me questioning myself).

Jun 05, 2012
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Panda, ruling on your question
by: Rick, the ole ballgame

Panda: In your situation where the fielder dives and touches the base with his glove, the ball inside and then it bounces out:

Rule 2.0...A tag is the action of a fielder touching a base with his body while holding the ball securely in his hand or glove, or touching a runner with the ball, or with his hand or glove holding the ball, while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove.

It is not a tag, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his touching a base or touching a runner, the fielder drops the ball.

In establishing the validity of the tag, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball.

If the fielder has made a tag and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the tag, the tag shall be judged to have been made.

Sounds like they got the call right in your example.

Yours in baseball,

Rick

Jun 04, 2012
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Play at First Base
by: Panda

What about this scenario

First baseman fields a hit ball, dives at first and touches the bag with his glove and ball in it.

Glove bounces up off the bag and the ball comes loose and rolls away from bag.

It was ruled safe.

Sep 08, 2011
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force play at first
by: Anonymous


anonymous asked:
So a first baseman can have the ball in his right hand and dive to tag the bag with his left hand and the runner is out?

Rick commented: That is corect. It is still a force and all the fielder has to do is have control of the baseball, he can tag the base with any part of his body.

If the force has been erased, then the fielder must tag the runner with the ball, whether it is in his bare hand, or in his glove.

Example, the throw is in the dirt, bounces off the first baseman so the runner is safe.

The runner decides he has a chance to advance to second, so he makes a start to do so, then decides that he won't and heads back to first base.

No matter which fielder picks up the ball, to get the runner out trying to get back into first base, they must tag him with the baseball in their bare hand, or with their glove and the ball in it.

The force at first was removed when the batter/runner was safe on the bad throw.

The same scenario can happen on a double play at second base. Wide throw pulls the second baseman off the bag, runner over slides second base. If the runner came in contact with second base during the slide, the force is removed and the fielder must tag him to get the out. If he missed second base on the slide, all the fielder has to do is step or fall on the base to complete the force.

Yours in baseball,

Rick

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