Official Baseball Rules: Ball Lodged in Fence

Batted ball remains lodged or stuck in outfield fence

Not often will a ball lodge in the outfield fence, and certainly not twice in a single night. But that is exactly what happened in two Major League games this week.

In one such game, our crew was working in Kansas City, a ball was hit and subsequently lodged in the lower portion of the padded fence in left center field. The ruling is sometimes referred to as a ground rule, but in reality it is covered in two separate rules as described in the Official Baseball Rules. The following two rules apply specifically to batted balls lodged or stuck in fences:

6.09 (f) states: A batter becomes a runner when – Any fair ball which, either before or after touching the ground, passes through or under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through any opening in the fence or scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery, or vines on the fence (hello Wrigley Field), or which sticks in a fence or scoreboard, in which case the batter and the runners shall be entitled to two bases;
7.05 (f) states: Each runner including the batter-runner may, without liability to be put out, advance – Two bases, if a fair ball bounces or is deflected into the stands outside the first or third base foul lines; or if it goes through or under a field fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery or vines on the fence; or if it sticks in such fence, scoreboard, shrubbery or vines;

Ultimately, the proper ruling must be made by the base umpire who is responsible for the flight of the ball – and it is only possible to do so by running out to the fence to visually discern and confirm that the ball is indeed lodged or stuck. If the fielder dislodges the ball by grabbing it and removing it, then it can no longer be considered lodged or stuck.

In the case of the play in Kansas City, the fielder properly left the ball lodged in the lower portion of the outfield padding, and the second base umpire ran to the fence and confirmed that the ball was indeed lodged. The ruling: two bases from the time of pitch.

The fielder must be absolutely sure that the ball is stuck or lodged, because if the umpire determines that it is not – there is an almost certain guarantee that the bases will be cleared and all runners will have scored as the ball remains alive and in play.



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2 Responses to “Official Baseball Rules: Ball Lodged in Fence”

  1. matt Says:

    Hey Mike,

    When can we can we expect the “ask the ump” questions to be answered? Anticipation is killing me!


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