I saw something strange happen in a softball game over the weekend. But for our purposes, let’s just assume that the softball and baseball rules would be the same in this situation.
The batter swings at and misses the third strike. The catcher drops the ball and it rolls into fair territory. The batter heads towards first. On her way, the batter inadvertantly kicks the ball. It doesn’t alter the path of the ball much but she definitely touched it. Is she out?
I asked an umpire and a coach who were standing next to me what the correct call was. They couldn’t come to an agreement.
The homeplate umpire involved in the call just stood there looking dumbfounded. I’m pretty sure he didn’t know what the correct call was either. He got lucky because they threw the girl out at first.
She is not out because the catcher touched the ball. If she had ran into before the catcher touched it, then she would of been out, but as the situation is she was safe.
She is out, she touched the ball…
MLB rules say that a batter is out if he touches his fair ball before fielder does. In your situation, even though the batter did not actually hit the ball, the ball is in play and in fair territory and IMO is considered a fair ball. However, I do not know if the catcher’s dropping the ball is considered being touched by a fielder; here IMO I would say not because the ball did not touch a fielder after becoming a fair ball. Further, on a dropped third strike the batter is not entitled to take first base without liability of being put out, she is entitled merely to become a runner, as is consistent with the fact that she got thrown out at first.
So in this case I would have called her out upon touching the ball. It is irrelevant whether the ball’s path was affected, the mere touching of the ball is sufficient to call her out. Baseball does not follow the “no harm, no foul” philosophy.
Out of curiosity, how many outs were there and was there a runner on first when she came to bat? She is entitled to become a runner on a dropped third strike if and only if there is no runner on first or if there are two outs. Otherwise she’s out at the plate.
Cooking, only a batted ball can be a fair ball. See the DEFINITION OF TERMS section on your cited site. The dropped third strike is a live ball. I believe that, in this situation, the batter is not out unless she deliberately interferes with the fielding of the ball.
CookingWithGas, there was 1 out with a runner on 2nd, so the base was available to her. In fact, it was a very close play at 1st. I think the 1st base umpire might have recognized the predicament the homeplate umpire was in and called the girl out to avoid an argument. She looked safe from my vantage point.
Having perused the rules, I think that Nametag is on to something. Unfortunately, “Batted Ball” is not in the DEFINITION OF TERMS. We all know that a run can be “Batted” in without the ball being hit.
The rules don’t appear to cover this particular event. From the rules that do exist I would have, as plate umpire, made the call to continue play so long as the runner was in the baseline and, in my judgement, had no intent to touch the ball. I base this on these facts:
-the ball is “in play” (as opposed to “batted” or “dead”) at least from the time the pitcher steps on the pitching rubber
-the ball remains “in play” throughout the play.
-since the ball is “in play” and not “batted”, whether it’s in fair or foul territory makes no difference.
The play should be called, IMHO, exactly as if the catcher had hit the runner with a thrown ball. The play continues.