The Ole Ball Game

WHY IS A FOUL TIP INTO THE CATCHER'S GLOVE NOT CONSIDERED AN OUT?

by Joel
(Sacramento, CA)

Joel asked:

If you catch a foul ball the runner is out no matter what the pitch count. I've noticed that if the catcher catches a foul tip..say on 3 balls and 1 strike...The batter is not out, why is that?

Rick answered: Great question Joel!

The answer lies in the technical aspects distinguishing a foul tip, from a foul ball.

The ball has to be caught by the catcher to be a foul tip. Any ball swung at and lightly contacted, if not caught by the catcher, becomes a foul ball.

Any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play. If it is strike one, or two, runners can steal or advance, as the ball is still in play, not foul. If it is strike three, it is a strikeout.

The situation in your question, with the count 3-1, if the catcher catches it, it becomes strike two. If there were a runner or runners on base, they could advance on the play.

Here is a situation seldom seen. Say you have a runner on first base, the batter has less than two strikes on him. The offense has the hit and run on, the runner goes on the pitch, the batter swings and foul tips the ball into the catchers glove, and he catches it.

The catcher could throw out the runner, or the runner could steal second, either is possible. The ball has stayed in play.

With the exact same situation; but this time the batter tips the ball, which hits the catcher but he doesn't catch it. Foul ball, dead ball, the runner has to come back to first.

The second example happens often, the first rarely, as foul tips are hard to come by. More often than not, that tip gets turned into a foul ball because it is not caught.

The distinction between a foul ball and a foul tip is the key to this head scratching situation, of which there are many within the game of baseball. It's one of those game within the game calls that make it so interesting.

Thanks for your question.

Yours in baseball,

Rick

Comments for WHY IS A FOUL TIP INTO THE CATCHER'S GLOVE NOT CONSIDERED AN OUT?

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Jun 28, 2019
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Reason for the rule rather than the rule
by: kd4ttc

I think the answer to the original question might be better put if the reason for the rule were considered, rather than the rule itself. I think it is for fairness to the players.

If a player swings and misses it is a strike. If he hits he has a chance to get on base. But if it is tipped and goes straight to the glove of the catcher it would be disproportinate to call it an out. Jus think, a swing tht misses be a 1/16 inch is a strike, but a swing that is an 1/8 of inch different should be an out? Not really fair.
-It would be like this if a tipped ball was considered in play:
Swing and miss = strike
Swing and tip = out
Swing and solid contact = ball in play
-It is like this in baseball where a tip is considered a strike::
Swing and miss = strike
Swing and tip = strike
Swing and solid contact = ball in play

So the foul tip really is considered a swing an a miss, or a strike. And the rule supports that. A foul tip can put yhr batter out if it happens with 2 strikes against the batter. It acts like strike 3. The fariness of the rule is also for the team in the field. A batter that endlessly swings foul tips would get pretty boring if it didn't get called a strike. However, a batter that hits the ball solidly won't be out unless the ball is caught.

Foul balls are another matter, and it is fairness again. A fly ball that is caught is an out, regardless of whether it is in fair or foul territory, and the play is alive. Runners can run after tagging up. The defense has the chance to defend. The runners can advance or score.

The foul tip with runners on base is just like a strike. The catcher has control of the ball. After a strike runnners could run if they dared.

Now, if the ball is not caught by the catcher off a tip it becomes a foul ball. Play stops. Runners back to their bases. This is also fair. The defense doesn't have control of the ball. It wouldn't be fair for the batting team to advance runners or score.

In summary, the rules are written so that a foul tip acts like a strike. It is this way becuase this results in a fair outcome for both sides.

Jun 28, 2019
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Reason for the rule rather than the rule NEW
by: Anonymous

I think the answer to the original question might be better put if the reason for the rule were considered, rather than the rule itself. I think it is for fairness to the players.

If a player swings and misses it is a strike. If he hits he has a chance to get on base. But if it is tipped and goes straight to the glove of the catcher it would be disproportinate to call it an out. Jus think, a swing tht misses be a 1/16 inch is a strike, but a swing that is an 1/8 of inch different should be an out? Not really fair.
-It would be like this if a tipped ball was considered in play:
Swing and miss = strike
Swing and tip = out
Swing and solid contact = ball in play
-It is like this in baseball where a tip is considered a strike::
Swing and miss = strike
Swing and tip = strike
Swing and solid contact = ball in play

So the foul tip really is considered a swing an a miss, or a strike. And the rule supports that. A foul tip can put yhr batter out if it happens with 2 strikes against the batter. It acts like strike 3. The fariness of the rule is also for the team in the field. A batter that endlessly swings foul tips would get pretty boring if it didn't get called a strike. However, a batter that hits the ball solidly won't be out unless the ball is caught.

Foul balls are another matter, and it is fairness again. A fly ball that is caught is an out, regardless of whether it is in fair or foul territory, and the play is alive. Runners can run after tagging up. The defense has the chance to defend. The runners can advance or score.

The foul tip with runners on base is just like a strike. The catcher has control of the ball. After a strike runnners could run if they dared.

Now, if the ball is not caught by the catcher off a tip it becomes a foul ball. Play stops. Runners back to their bases. This is also fair. The defense doesn't have control of the ball. It wouldn't be fair for the batting team to advance runners or score.

In summary, the rules are written so that a foul tip acts like a strike. It is this way becuase this results in a fair outcome for both sides.


Jun 04, 2019
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That still doesn't make one bit of sense to me.
by: Anonymous

It's illogical. What if the ball is foul tipped and it goes up into the air and is caught by the pitcher? Is it still just a strike or is that an out? There is absolutely no logic whatsoever behind your argument. And I don't appreciate you calling me an idiot or calling me a novice baseball watcher. I grew up playing baseball my whole life and I've been studying the game for years. I know what I'm talking about here. I'm taking about simple physics. If a ball is touched at all by the bat of the hitter and then caught by any player before it hits the ground or a fence, it should be an out, regardless of how it happened to hit the bat and who the player catching the ball is. It's not only this that I think it's a terrible rule, but also the fact that the short stop and the second baseman can turn a double play without actually even touching second base. It happens all the time and it drives me crazy. The assumption is made the they touched it, but upon further investigation, they weren't even close to the bag and they still got the out called. That goes against the rule that says that a fielder must touch a base while holding the ball to get a runner out via force. If they don't ever actually touch the base, why is the runner out? Simple craziness.

Jun 03, 2019
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Understand the rule NEW
by: G-Mannn Umpire

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding over something that is very simple. A lot of this it stems from a person's want to apply to a foul tip what his/her own definition, belief, wish, want or desire over what a foul ball is. All want to put these two different bat contacts in the same basket. In other words, no one is really questioning or is raising an issue over what is a foul tip. That is part of the problem. Foul balls can be caught for outs. Tips cannot. Most are trying to justify that a tip is a struck ball then is caught . . . which is true. However, in order to put this to bed, understand that there is a RULE in place. You must first understand the definitions, then the rule, then pass judgement. Whatever you do, DO NOT morph what you think it should be and argue it. Idiots do that. I will sometimes educate coaches in front of the crowd. Understand it, then live with it. I can cut and paste the rules that so many has already done. Read them! The definitions are there. Tipped off the bat into the GLOVE or HAND first and then caught, trapped, whatever BEFORE it hits the ground . . . is a swinging strike. If it is a tipped off the bat and touches anything other than the hand or glove FIRST and then caught, trapped, or however (ends up in the catchers hands, is a dead ball; foul). So the 'hit off the mask' example earlier in this post where the batter was called out . . . that was a bad call; it should have been a foul ball (mask first, then glove; it is dead). The example where it fouled into the ground and into the catchers glove is also a foul. Remember that by nature, catchers are good actors. They get the ball in their hot hands forcing the umpire to make the call. I was a catcher, I did that. It is part of the game. Umpires have to be super alert. Calls are missed sometimes; we are human. Most of the time the catcher does not see the tip and just catches the ball as if it were never tipped (the tip is just that slight). The bottom line is that the ball was never in flight. For those that need to know where the line of where a tip becomes a foul or visa-versa . . . use that broad understanding. A ball that takes flight can be caught for an out. a tip off the bat into an awaiting glove 18 inches away is counted exactly like a swing and a miss. If that is the third strike . . . OUT; period, roll credits, fade to black, end of story. Believe me, from where I stand and witness, it happens more than you know. Most of the time the novice baseball watcher will miss it. I have the best seat in the house . . . sometimes I miss it. Look at the umpire for the call, a foul tip is the sign for a tip, then followed by the sign for a strike. If that is the third strike it is the same sign for an out. Pretty darn simple.

Jun 02, 2019
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I agree.
by: Anonymous

I think it is ridiculous that a foul tip thar is caught by the catcher is not immediately called an out. Why exactly does it matter if a ball goes up into the air and is caught by the catcher versus being ripped directly into the catcher's glove? Either way, it is a ball that is hit by the batter that is caught by a position player. It should be value as an out in both scenarios. A batted ball caught by any player before it hits the ground is an out. It shouldn't make any difference how high it is hit nor how far it goes before it's caught.

Apr 12, 2019
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Reson for rule NEW
by: Anonymous

The purpose is to prevent a double play on a hit and run. If the runner is off with the pitch, he would never have time to return to the base on a tip. He could return on a pop up.

Apr 07, 2019
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Foul ball out or just a strike
by: Anonymous

If a batter fouls the ball off but it doesn't go over the batters head and the catcher catches is it a strike or ruled an out

Sep 02, 2018
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Additional Foul Tip Situation? NEW
by: Eric

Situation: 0 or 1 outs. Runner on first. Batter hits a foul tip into the catcher's glove for strike 3. Can the runner choose to advance to second on a foul tip on strike 3? Or is time automatically called to bring in next batter? I've seen explanations that say the runner can advance on strikes fewer than the third strike, but i am not sure what the runner is allowed to do on a foul tip for strike 3.

Jun 22, 2018
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Hit & Run; foul tip occurs runner goes back to 2nd base
by: Anonymous

He would be called out if before reaching 2nd base a fielder in possession of the ball tagged him. It's plain and simple: the ball is live meaning if B2 reached 3rd base safely then he was safe and then if B2 for some odd reason started running back to 2nd base *all is live and in play actions

Apr 11, 2018
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Foul tip ball
by: Anonymous

My question is on a foul tip ball that's caught by the catcher but you had a hit-and-run going on and the second base runner Advanced the Third But realize it was called so they returned back to second is he called out out because he returned back to the baggie came from

Oct 25, 2017
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Come on man
by: Anonymous

This is not that complicated. If it goes straight into the glove it is a live ball strike. Anything else is a foul. Period. Geeez!!

Jul 03, 2016
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foul vs fly
by: Anonymous

The differentiation some arent understanding here is fly ball vs. foul ball. A ball in the air is always treated as a live fly ball UNTIL and UNLESS it hits the ground in foul territory. You never catch a foul ball, that is a misunderstanding...it must touch the ground in foul territory to be considered foul; until then, it is a live ball in the air, which may be caught for an out. If it is caught, the ball is still live and runners may advance bases, as they would on a batted ball or if stealing on a live pitch. NOW, the difference between a foul tip and a foul ball is the arc of the ball and whether or not it is caught. If the bat touches the ball but goes straight to the catcher's glove or hand, it is called a foul tip and is considered a strike, unless it is a third strike, then it is an out. It has to be a straight line to the catcher's glove...think of a pitch glancing off the bat slightly but continuing its original trajectory to the catcher. It is NOT a foul ball unless it isn't caught, or hits anything other than the catcher's glove or hand first (fumbling after it touches glove or hand first but managing to hold into it even if it touches, say, the chest protector after glove or hand, is still a foul tip.) A foul tip is a live ball and called a strike; third strike is an out, unlike a foul ball. Key here is a foul tip must be straight to the catcher and caught, a foul must hit the ground in foul territory to be called foul, which is a dead ball.

Jun 27, 2016
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Yeah, so if that is true then...
by: Anonymous

A foul tip that hits the catcher's mask and caroms into the air (therefore not really a foul tip) is caught by the catcher or pitcher or another fielder. The batter is then out. Correct?

May 16, 2016
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is she allowed to steal or not
by: Anonymous

I had a fastpitch, girla game Friday in which there was 1 out and a girl on 2nd. The batter had 2 strikes and foul tipped the next pitch into the catchers glove for strike 3 in which she is called out. Meanwhile on the pitch the runner on 2nd was attempting to steal 3rd base and was successful, but opposing teams coach felt as if she had to tagup first. I said No, because it was not a fouled fly ball. Was I right or wrong?

Jun 29, 2015
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foul tip
by: Scott

I coach 15U HS baseball and we had a play yesterday I need clarification on. On two strikes, a batter hit a foul tip however the catcher caught the ball with his body or near his arm pit and not with the glove. There was a discussion about it and the batter was called out. I was under the impression that the catcher has to catch the foul tip with his glove and not his body otherwise it is a dead ball and the batter is still alive. Please advise so I know the correct ruling.

Thank you,

Scott

Jun 07, 2015
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height of foul
by: Anonymous

is there a particular height that a ball tipped by the batter has to be in order to Call it a pop up and if caught on strike one or strike two to be an out?

May 20, 2015
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Stolen or not?
by: Kevin2264

Okay, here's a scenario. A batter has 2 strikes on him and there is a runner on first base (less than 2 outs). The hit and run is on, as in your scenario, but now with 2 strikes. If the ball is tipped into the catchers glove, the batter is out, but what happens to the runner? Does he have to go back to first base or is the the ball live and he is awarded the stolen base? If so, that doesn't seem very fair to the catcher, as he would have to catch and throw a ball that probably wasn't as "clean" as a pitched ball.

May 07, 2015
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Has the rule changed over the years?
by: Anonymous

I thought that many years (decades?) ago that a "foul tip" was an out.
I remember old baseball movies -- pre 1950s -- where a foul tip was called an out regardless of the count. Was this just movie 'magic'/drama?
If the commissioner is worried about long games, why not make the foul tip an out?

Oct 18, 2014
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Rule 2-16..Foul, foul tip
by: Rick, theoleballgame

Rule 2-16 Foul, Foul Tip...

Art 1...A foul is a batted ball:

a) which settles on foul territory between home and first base or between home and third base; or

b) that bounds past first or third base on or over foul territory; or

c) that first falls on foul territory, beyond first or third base; or

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; or

e) that touches the ground after inadvertently being declared foul by an umpire.


Art 2...A foul tip is a batted ball that goes directly to the catcher's hands and is legally caught by any fielder. It shall be called a strike and the ball is in play.

The only time a foul tip into the catcher's mitt is called an out, is when it is a third strike.

Yours in baseball,

Rick

Oct 08, 2014
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Foul tip into catcher's glove.
by: Anonymous

I am confused because if the batter makes contact and the ball goes straight up or even up and backwards towards the backstop (in foul territory) and the catcher catches it, it is considered out by foul ball catch. But, if the batter makes contact and it goes straight back into the catcher's glove it is considered a strike. In both cases the ball does not procede past the plate. Would this be a matter of distance the ball travels before being caught? Because either way the ball was hit and caught in foul territory from what I understand. I think that as rare as this play occurs it could be a devistating and interesting outcome to critical games.

Oct 05, 2014
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Foul tip Ruling
by: Anonymous

During the 18 inning playoff game on Sat. the Oct. 4/14, a batter foul tipped on 3rd strike, the ball hit the dirt in front of the catcher, and went into the catchers glove. The batter was called out. Because the ball hit the dirt is it not a foul ball? The catcher tagged the batter anyway, maybe confused? The batter should still be up?

Oct 05, 2014
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Foul tip Ruling
by: Anonymous

During the 18 inning playoff game on Sat. the Oct. 4/14, a batter foul tipped on 3rd strike, the ball hit the dirt in front of the catcher, and went into the catchers glove. The batter was called out. Because the ball hit the dirt is it not a foul ball? The catcher tagged the batter anyway, maybe confused? The batter should still be up?

Sep 16, 2014
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If this is right then umpires are calling it wrong
by: Anonymous

Refer to Wikipedia...
A foul tip is always a strike, regardless of the existing ball-and-strike count.
A player with two strikes against him is automatically struck out and cannot attempt to reach first base.
A player with fewer than two strikes against him is not out.
The ball remains alive and runners may advance or be thrown out on the bases.

So according to that, umps have been calling it wrong, if I'm understanding sentence 2 correctly.

Jun 09, 2014
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Fairness on foul tips
by: Anonymous

It's also a matter of fairness. If a batter has 1 strike on him, barely touches the ball, and it ends up being caught by the catcher, it's not an out because it would be more advantageous to completely miss the pitch.

Apr 13, 2013
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Crossing the plate
by: Anonymous

It's not an out, because the ball never crossed the place to become a legal hit.

Feb 18, 2013
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Foul Tip Response
by: Dan

Dan submitted The foul tip must come off the bat and travel straight back into the catcher's glove. If it is hit in the air, it is now considered a caught foul ball for an out, or simply a foul ball if it is dropped.

Hope that helps.

Rick commented: Dan, that is essentially it.

Foul tips and foul balls are defined in the rule book under seperate articles, making the distinction between them.

Section 16
Art 1...A foul is a batted ball: a. which settles on foul territory between home and first base or between home and third base; or b. that bounds past first or third base on or over foul territory; or c. that first falls on foul territory beyond first or third base; or d. that, while on or over foul territory, touches the person of an umpire or a player or any object foriegn to the natural ground; or that touches the ground after inadvertently being declared foul by an umpire.

Art 2...A foul tip is a batted ball that goes directly to the catcher's hands and is legally caught by the catcher. It is a strike and the ball is in play.


Yours in baseball,

Rick, the ole ballgame

Aug 24, 2012
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No so fast...
by: Anonymous

What if the batter hits it 10 feet into the air in foul territory and the catcher catches it? How is that any different than foul tipping it back to the catcher catching it?

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