The Ole Ball Game

Ball in grasp of fielder but touching the ground, out or safe?

by Ira
(Brooklyn, NY)

Stretch at first base

Stretch at first base

Ira asked: A batter hits a grounder to the pitcher who whirls and throws weakly to first base.

The first baseman cannot handle the throw before the ball hits the ground and dribbles a few feet from the bag.

The first baseman plants one foot on the bag and stretches his body to grasp the ball on the ground a second or two before the batter crosses the bag.

Even though the first baseman clearly had a grip on the ball and his foot on the bag, the ball was still touching the ground when the batter crossed the bag.

Safe or Out?

Rick answered: Ira, thank you for your question.

Section 5 Player's Fielding Record. Art 2...A putout is credited to a fielder who catches a batted ball in flight, or who tags out a runner, or who puts out a runner by holding the ball while touching a base to which a runner is forced to advance or return.

The decision in your description would be based on the umpire's decision as to whether the defensive player had "control" over the baseball, or not. This is one of those quick decision calls that umpire's have to make.

On catches of line drives, the fielders glove needs to be underneath the baseball to keep from being called a trap.

On a ball laying on the ground, it would come down to, did the fielder have a solid grip on and around the ball. The ball could be on the ground, as long as the umpire felt he was in control, not just "in contact with".

Yours in baseball,


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