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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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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