Baseball: Stealing on caught foul

This came up in last night’s Little League game but I’ve never seen it happen in MLB.

I reviewed the rules and “5.09 The ball becomes dead…when (e) A foul ball is not caught; runners return. The umpire shall not put the ball in play until all runners have retouched their bases;”

I had thought a foul ball was dead even if it was caught. Does this rule imply that the ball is still live if the foul ball is caught? If so, does this imply that runners can steal after tagging up after a caught foul ball?

Runners can tag and advance on foul fly ball outs. You don’t see it happen often, but it does happen.

Yep. I’ve seen runners going from 2nd to 3rd when the foul ball is caught by someone diving over the rail on the 1B side (and thus will need some recovery time before making a throw).

I’ve also seen runners tag up and score from third base on a deep fly foul ball. This should only happen if the fielder forgets how many outs there are (thinks it’s the third rather than second out), or if his team is willing to give up the run to record an out (i.e., has a comfortable lead, or if the bases are loaded and it’s better to reduce the chances of a big inning by taking the sure out at the cost of one run).

Baseball fans will recoil if you refer to this as a “steal”. It’s an advance on a fly ball, not a stolen base. To “steal” properly refers to advancing during the pitch or between pitches, without the assistance of a batted ball.

I am a baseball fan and I will thus henceforth recoil on such a mention :slight_smile:

Or if the foul ball is deep enough that the runner can score easily. Can’t happen in say Fenway Park (rarely at best) because of the minimal foul territory at the distance where a sac fly means an easy trot home for the guy on 3rd (and the short lines don’t help either), but in other parks it likely happens all the time.

Do the outfielders use their own judgment? Or is there a “staff” meeting between the manager, coaches, and outfielders outlining the specific scenario when it is acceptable to intentionally miss an out? I can’t imagine that the managers signal the outfielders when the right situation arises.

I’d imagine so. It wouldn’t be too difficult for a fielder to realize “I’m running away from the plate/I’m way too far away from the plate, there’s no way I can get the guy from third base out, I should just let it fall.” Though some fielders are thicker-headed than others.

Just to be really pedantic – it’s not a foul ball unless it drops in foul territory. If it’s caught in foul territory, it’s just that: a fly ball, caught in foul territory.

So why do umpires make a fair/foul call in cases where a ball is caught near the foul line?

I’d expect they would (OK, should) already have decided whether to take an out if it means give up a run. Doesn’t the center fielder direct the outfield? Maybe he tells them if the situation means they should let a foul drop.

The mechanic for a foul ball call is 2 part: hands up (ball is dead, time), followed by a point to foul territory. When the ball is caught, it’s just the 2nd part – the point, either fair or foul. No good reason why everyone needs to know which side of the line the ball was on; that’s just how they do it. Maybe just so everyone can speculate what would’ve happened if the fielder had dropped it.

After a little research, it seems that the umpire’s first duty in this situation is to make a fair/foul determination. Depending on the circumstances, whether the ball was caught by the fielder may not be immediately evident, thus this is the second determination made by the umpire.

If we could continue the pedantry…in the scorebook a distinction is made between a fly out and foul fly.