The Ole Ball Game

when home coach says dugout rail in front is in play.

by don garvin
(ramona ca.)

Don asked: At plate meeting the home coach says the front of the rails are in play.

What do you call it if a batted ball hits the rail and goes into fair territory before passing 1st or third bag?

What does he say when a thrown ball hits the rail and is rebounded to a defensive player and gets a runner out.

And what is the call if a sub is sitting on rail and is hit with a batted or thrown ball and either helps or hurts the opposing team?

Rick answered: Don, thank you for your question.

With your first scenario, when the batted ball hits the railing, the call is foul ball. While the rail is in play, it will only be in play for balls thrown from the field of play. Batted balls that contact an object in foul ground are foul.

When a thrown ball hits an object in foul territory that is considered in play, the ball remains live. The out stands.

The situation with the sub sitting on the rail and is hit with a batted ball, it is a foul ball.

Thrown ball that contacts a player sitting on the rail that is in play, and is covered by Rule 7.11..Fielder's Right Of Way...The players, coaches or any member of a team at bat shall vacate any space (including both dugouts or bullpens) needed by a fielder who is attempting to field a batted or thrown ball. If a member of the team at bat (other than a runner) hinders a fielder's attempt to field a thrown ball, the ball is dead, the runner on whom the play is being made shall be declared out and all runners return to the last legally occupied base at the time of the interference.

In this last scenario, there should never have been anyone sitting on a rail and the umpires should have kept that clear at all times.

Leaning on the rail is ok; but sitting on or hanging over are problems.

Open dugouts are basically a thing of the past. Most all fields have some form of chain link fencing on a pipe structured fence. All those fences are in play, as well as the rails.

As you look at the images above, the entire front fencing of the dugouts are in play.

Yours in baseball,


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