Hey, Blue! – There is Nothing Foul about a Foul-Tip
This month, we will explain the difference between a foul ball and a foul tip. The situations described below are applicable in all divisions of Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball®.
Situation No. 1:
With no outs and no runners on base, the batter has a one-ball, no-strike count. The pitcher delivers a fastball that jams the batter, who pops the ball out of play. The foul ball results in the umpire signaling strike one. On the next pitch, a change-up from the pitcher fools the batter, who lunges at the pitch, popping the ball up. The blooper travels into foul territory down the first-base line, but the defense is unable to make a play before the ball hits the ground, resulting in the umpire yelling “foul ball” and signaling strike two. The batter would foul off one more pitch before eventually reaching safely on a base on balls.
To effectively and properly explain the foul ball call, we reference the Definitions Section (2.00) of the 2015 Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® Rulebooks. According to the definition of a “foul ball,” on Pages 60-61, an umpire is expected to make a series of judgments based on foul territory.
A foul ball is a batted ball that settles on foul territory between home and first base, or between home and third base, or that bounds past first or third base on or over foul territory, or that first falls on foul territory beyond first or third base, or that while on or over foul territory, touches the person of an umpire or player or any object foreign to the natural ground. Note 1: A foul ball shall be judged according to the relative position of the ball and the foul line, including the foul pole, and not to as whether the fielder is on the foul or fair territory at the time the fielder touches the ball.
Situation No. 2:
With two outs and a runner on second base, the batter swings at a pitch that nicks the bat and goes sharply and directly into the catcher’s glove and is caught. The umpire immediately calls and signals foul tip and the base runner attempts to steal third base. The baserunner reached third base safely. At the end of the play, the manager of the defensive team calls “timeout” and asks the home plate umpire, “That ball was foul, why are you allowing the runner to stay on third?”
To explain the rule, we reference the Definitions Section (2.00) of the 2015 Little League Baseball® and Little League Softball® Rulebooks. Under the definition of “foul tip,” a foul-tip is a batted ball that goes sharp and direct to the catcher’s hand or glove and is legally caught. It is not a foul tip unless caught and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play. It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher’s glove or hand. A foul tip can only be caught by the catcher.
A “strike” is defined as a legal pitch which meets several conditions, including being struck at by the batter and missed; Is not struck at, but part of the ball passes through any part of the strike zone; Is fouled by the batter when there are less than two strikes; Is bunted foul; Touches the batter’s person as the batter strikes at it (dead ball); Touches the batter in flight in the strike zone; or, Becomes a foul tip (Ball is live and in play).