The Ole Ball Game

Possession on a Force

by High Heat

At what point does control get established

At what point does control get established

High Heat asked: Man on 1st, comebacker to the pitcher who turns and throws the ball in the dirt to SS covering 2nd.

SS blocks the ball with glove, secures the ball with his bare hand on top of the ball and ball is still in contact with the ground as he tags the base.

Is this secure possession of the ball, or does it need to be off the ground? Thanks for your input.

Rick answered: High Heat, thanks for your question.

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

As you have described in your situation;"holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove" becomes a real time decision by the umpire on the call as to whether, with the ball contacting the ground it constitutes "holding the ball securely and firmly."

The rule doesn't specifically state the ball must be off the ground; but does the fielder's hand on top of the ball meet the requirement of secured.

To me, it does. Ball is not moving and the fielder has his hand over the ball, foot on the base, runner is out. As the coach of the defensive team, I'm wanting that call.

If I'm in the other dugout, my take on it will be just the opposite. From there, he is safe because the fielder didn't have the ball up off the ground, in what might be considered "unassisted control".

It is one of those "not cut and dried" situations within the game that can generate a whole lot of excitement and discussion in real time.

If I was an umpire, I believe my call would be based on whether the ball was moving or not. If the fielder had it stopped and covered, foot on the bag, he has met the criteria.

Yours in baseball,


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