Jim asked: In games I watch on TV, whenever a batter hits a fly ball foul down either baseline, he takes off running for 1st base.
If the ball goes into the seats, it's foul.
If no one gets to the ball or they drop the ball, it's still foul.
If someone catches the ball, the batter is out.
To me, logically, running for 1st base is a wasted effort - - - so why run?
Rick answered: Jim, thank you for your question.
At the MLB level, hitters know when a ball is sliced or pulled foul, and won't come back. Generally you may see them go a step or two in those situations; but that is all.
If they leave the batter's box and are headed down the line, they have reason to believe there is a possibility the ball will land fair, or possibly on a high wind day, that the wind may push it back into fair territory.
Always better to run, than not, if there is any possibility the ball will end up fair. Better to run a short distance and have to come back, than to not have run and the ball ends up fair.
The latter is a sin on the baseball field, at any level.
Players at lower levels such as Little League will quite often run on everything they hit. Usually doesn't take too long for them to get the feel off the bat, for balls that won't stay fair.
Yours in baseball,
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