June 5, 2008
Entry #: 2779546
|Whether a batted ball is a fair ball or a foul ball may seem like a very elementary question. However, I have found that, while listening to conversations both in the stands and on the field about what is a fair or foul ball, many people don’t understand what makes a batted ball fair or foul.|
Rule 2.00 provides definitions for Fair Ball and Foul Ball. A batted ball is neither fair nor foul until one of the following occur.
If the batted ball is a ground ball (bounding ball) or a fly ball that lands before reaching first or third base, then its status as either fair or foul is based on:
(1) Where the ball settles (comes to a stop);
(2) Whether the ball is over fair or foul territory as it bounds past first or third base on its way to the outfield;
(3) Whether the ball touches first or third base as it bounds to the outfield; or
(4) Whether the ball is over fair or foul territory when it is first touched by a player or umpire.
If the batted ball is a fly ball that goes beyond first or third in flight, then its status as either fair or foul is based on:
(1) Where the ball lands;
(2) If still in flight, whether the ball is over fair or foul territory when it is first touched by a player or umpire; or
(3) Whether the batted ball was over fair or foul territory when it left the playing field in flight.
Fair territory includes all bases including home plate. As such, a batted ball that is first touched while over or on home plate is a fair ball.
The definition of a Foul Ball also includes a batted ball that touches a foreign object in foul territory. Foreign objects include bats, helmets, and catcher’s mask; anything that would not normally be on the field of play. This applies to foul territory only; nothing is considered a foreign object in fair territory.
A ground ball in the infield is neither fair nor foul until it comes to a complete stop, is touched by a player or umpire, or passes first or third base. AT THAT POINT, its status as either fair or foul is judged by whether or not the ball is over fair territory when it stops, is touched, or passes first or third base. If touched by a player or umpire, that person’s position on the field has no bearing on the determination. The positioning of his feet, likewise plays no part in the decision making process; only the position of the ball. For example:
Batter hits ground ball near the third baseline. Third baseman touches the ball while the ball is over foul territory, but both of the third baseman’s feet and his body are over fair territory when he touches the ball. This is a FOUL ball. Because the ball is over foul territory when it is touched, regardless of the position of the player, it is a foul ball.
Batter hits a ground ball down the first baseline. The ball bounces over the front corner of the base and is first touched by the first baseman while the ball is over foul territory just beyond first base. The first baseman’s feet are straddling the baseline. This is a FAIR ball. The ball is judged to be fair, when it bounces over first base. If a ball crosses any part of the base, it is a fair ball.
Batter hits a slow roller down the third baseline. It rolls in foul territory all the way down the baseline until, just prior to reaching the base, it hits a rock and bounces over and hits the base. This is a FAIR ball. Until a ball stops, is touched, or reaches first or third base, it is neither fair nor foul. Once it reached the base and touched it, its status is judged to be a fair ball.
Batter hits a long, hooking fly ball down the right field line. The ball is hooking from over fair territory to over foul territory. When it lands well beyond the fence, it is definitely on foul territory. However, determination of its status as fair or foul is based on its position when it flew over the fence, regardless of where it landed.
Batter hits fly ball past fist base into right field. The right fielder moves into foul territory, but then reaches back into fair territory where he touches the ball in flight but drops the ball. This is a FAIR ball. Judgment is made on where the ball is at the time it is touched regardless of the location of the fielder.
Here is one that will surely confuse many. If it confuses you, trust me you are not alone, but this is the proper ruling.
Batter hits a slow roller down the first baseline. As the runner runs down first, his helmet falls off unintentionally. The ball rolls into the helmet and is then touched by a fielder.
If the helmet is touched by the batted ball in foul territory, it is a foul ball immediately. However, if the ball rolls into the helmet in fair territory, then its status is judged by where the ball is when it is touched by the fielder as if it had not touched the helmet at all. Again, under the definition of a foul ball in Rule 2.00, a batted ball is a foul ball if it touches a foreign object in foul territory. The helmet is a foreign object. Therefore, if a batted ball touches a helmet over foul territory, it is a foul ball. BUT, if the batted ball touches a helmet over fair territory, play continues as if it had not touched the helmet.
Who knew fair and foul could be so confusing? If you have any questions about the fair/foul rules, or any other rules, send your questions to me at:
Indiana D5 UIC