Ask the Ump!


QUESTION: In high school, baseball and softball, batter hits a looping fair fly ball towards short right field. Second base person backpedals and gains possession of ball in glove only. He/she continues to backpedal as ball rolls out of glove without bare hand touching ball which then falls to ground. What criteria do umpires use to determine legal catch? Possessing ball long enough; time limit of three seconds; momentary control or transfer action?

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ANSWER: Fielder must gain possession, maintain control and demonstrate a voluntary release. Secure possession may be in glove/ mitt or hand. Once a fielder stops action and makes a secondary action to remove ball from glove in a transfer or throwing motion and initial action is completed, a legal catch is ruled. (BB- Rule 2, Sec.9, Art. 1; SB- Rule 2, Sec.7, Art. 1-5). Catch is determined after continued actions are completed. Umpires will often ask, “Show me the ball,” before making a ruling.

QUESTION: Batter hits ground ball to third base person who throws to first base person. The throw is bobbled but is clamped against body with elbow or forearm as batter-runner crosses base. Ump calls runner safe? Correct call?

ANSWER: Correct. This is not a legal catch by defender as ball was not possessed in hand or glove. Despite being controlled by another body part, ball was not secured in bare or glove hand. (BB and SB-same rules cited above apply).

Anyone who has a question about high school rules can submit it to Mike Lynch at (