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 > Little League Online > Learn More > Newsletters > Fairball Newsletters > 2014 > Fairball Newsletter - January > From the Field!

From the Field!

From the Field!

Question: This month’s question comes from Chris in Michigan District 13. Chris asks: “Please explain the difference between a ‘foul ball’ and a ‘foul tip,’ and describe when to call ‘foul ball’ and when to signal a ‘foul tip’.”

Answer – RULE 2.00 (Definitions: 2014 Little League Baseball® Rulebook)

FOUL BALL: A batted ball that settles on foul territory (outside the fair/foul line) between home and first base, or between home and third base, or that bounds past first or third base on or over foul territory (outside the fair/foul line) or that first falls on foul territory beyond first or third base, or that while over foul territory, touches the person of an umpire, or a player, or any object foreign to the natural ground. (This includes a fly ball caught by a fielder when the ball is over foul territory).

NOTE 1: A foul fly shall be judged according to the relative position of the ball and the foul line, including the foul pole and not as to whether the fielder is in foul or fair territory at the time that fielder touches the ball. (It is the position of the ball that determines fair/foul and not the fielder!)

EXPLANATION: Mechanically, a foul ball that touches the ground should be identified by raising the arms to indicate time (Dead Ball situation), followed by a point toward foul territory and a verbalization of FOUL! Conversely if it is a foul fly ball which is caught the umpire should point to foul territory and signal out. Notice there is no signal of time or verbalization, because in these situations the ball is still live and runners may attempt to advance.

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FOUL TIP: A batted ball that goes sharp and direct from the bat to the catcher’s hands 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 (LIVE). It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball first touched the catcher’s glove or hand. A foul tip can only be caught by the catcher.

EXPLANATION: Mechanically, a foul tip is signaled via a two-part mechanic. First, the plate umpire brushes the palm of the right hand over the top of the left hand once in a sweeping motion. Second, the plate umpire then signals a strike. These are two distinct mechanics with a pause between the two. This is done while looking at the catcher’s glove and not the hands while making the sweeping motion. Notice there is NO VERBALIZATION of any kind. The ball is live and in play (just like a swinging strike) and runners may advance at their own risk. Foul tips should be demonstrated whenever they occur in order to inform both the offense and defense that the ball is live and further play is possible.

Do you have a question on a rule or mechanic? E-mail fairball@LittleLeague.org and, each month, Little League’s Director of Umpire Development will select one question to answer in the next Fairball! newsletter.

If your question is selected, you will receive a limited-edition, black Little League® Umpire hat! So, start sending your questions today!