Nothing Foul about a Foul Tip

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Do you know the difference between a foul tip and a foul ball? Do you even know what a foul tip is? Here is a quick summary.

Let’s start with: what is a foul ball?  A foul ball is any batted ball that settles on foul territory between home and first(or third) base, or that bounds past first or third base on or over foul territory, or first lands in foul territory beyond first or third base, or hits a player, umpire or other in foul territory before passing first or third base. The umpire should call, “Foul!” and the play is dead.

However, if a batter swings at a pitch and the bat BARELY scrapes the pitch – we might have a foul tip. The ball must go sharp and direct to the catcher’s glove and it must be a legal catch. If these things happen, it is a ‘foul tip’.  The umpire should say NOTHING! Only signal the tip like the Zeus god they are!

I hate to tell you… like the infield fly, a foul tip is one  misnamed baseball term. It is NOT a foul ball. Therefore, the ball is live and in play. Best way to think of it? A foul tip is simply a swinging strike. Everything that happens when a batter swings and misses applies.  I think it would be better if it was called a Tipped Strike.

Last thing … a trained umpire knows to NEVER say, “Foul Tip.” The reason is simple… technically speaking, when an umpire says “Foul <anything>” it is a foul ball and play is dead. Thus, if the umpire yells ‘Foul Tip” they just killed the play.

That said, if your youth sports umpire mistakenly yells, “Foul Tip”… it is just that – a mistake. Play on…

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The Plate umpire indicated it was a foul tip (shown in instant replay)  What if he vocalized, “Foul Tip”?


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