What is the Definition of Foul Ball in Baseball?
A foul ball is any ball that lands in or is caught in foul territory, which is the area on the field that’s outside of the first and third baselines, extending out to the fence and upwards at a perpendicular angle. The foul territory is demarcated by the foul lines and foul poles on the field. Both the foul lines and foul poles are not considered to be foul territory, only the areas beyond them.
When Does a Pitch Qualify as a Foul Ball?
Foul balls are called in a range of situations:
- If a batted ball makes first contact with a fielder while the ball is within foul territory
- If a batted ball makes first contact with the field in foul territory beyond the first or third base without being touched by a fielder in fair territory
- If a batted ball makes first contact with the area of the field between the home plate and the first or third base and it doesn’t then bounce over or make direct contact with either of these bases, pass either base in fair territory, or end up in fair territory between the home plate and either of these bases
- If a batted ball is hit out of the park on the left side of the left-field foul pole or the right side of the right-field foul pole and doesn’t make contact with the pole in question
- If a batted ball makes contact with an umpire, person, or any object foreign to the natural ground in the foul territory
What Happens When a Foul Ball is Called?
Generally speaking, once a ball has been called a foul ball, any baserunners on the field are required to return to their time-of-pitch base and the hitter must return to the home plate to continue their at bat. If the hitter has two or less strikes, they will receive a strike; if the hitter has two strikes at the time of the foul ball, a strike and strikeout is only issued in the case that the ball was bunted by the hitter.
Foul balls are notoriously a complicated aspect in the game of baseball, as the rules surrounding them can be confusing.
How Many Foul Balls can you Hit in Baseball?
In baseball, there is no limit to the number of foul balls a batter can hit. As long as the ball is not caught by a fielder after being hit into the air, you can continue to swing at pitches and make contact with foul balls.
How Often do Foul Balls Occur in Baseball?
Foul balls occur fairly often in baseball. The exact number of foul balls per game depends on the pitcher, batter, and the amount of defensive shifts used by each team. Generally speaking, it is estimated that about 7-10% of all pitches thrown in a typical game result in a foul ball. However, this percentage can vary significantly depending on the specific matchup.
Can you Steal on a Foul Ball?
No, you cannot steal on a foul ball. A foul ball is not considered a pitch, so runners may not advance until the next legal pitch is thrown and put into play. If a runner attempts to steal on a foul ball, they will be called out for interference and the ball will be dead.