Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...
, a foul ball
is a batted ball that:
- Settles on foul territory between home and first base or between home and third base, or
- Bounds past first or third base on or over foul territory, or
- First falls on foul territory beyond first or third base, or
- While on or over foul territory, touches the person of an umpire or player, or any object foreign to the natural ground.
A foul fly shall be judged according to the relative position of the ball and the foul
line, including the foul pole, and not as to whether the infielder is on foul or fair territory at
the time he touches the ball.
or foul ground
is defined as the area of the field outside of the foul lines. The foul lines and foul poles are not part of foul territory.
In general, when a batted ball is ruled a foul ball, the ball is dead, all runners must return to their time-of-pitch
In baseball, the time of pitch is that instant when the pitcher has begun his pitching motion and, by the rules, has committed himself to throwing the pitch. This instant thus occurs before the pitcher actually releases the ball. Once a pitcher commits himself to throwing a pitch, it is illegal...
base without liability to be put out, and the batter returns to home plate to continue his turn at bat
In baseball statistics, a player is credited with a plate appearance each time he completes a turn batting. A player completes a turn batting when: He strikes out or is declared out before reaching first base; or He reaches first base safely or is awarded first base ; or He hits a fair ball which...
. A strike is issued for the batter if he had fewer than two strikes. If the batter already has two strikes against him when he hits a foul ball, a strike is not issued unless the ball was bunted to become a foul ball, in which case a third strike is
issued and a strikeout
In baseball or softball, a strikeout or strike-out occurs when a batter receives three strikes during his time at bat. A strikeout is a statistic recorded for both pitchers and batters....
recorded for the batter and pitcher. A strike is, however, recorded for the pitcher for every foul ball the batter hits, regardless of the count
In baseball, the count refers to the number of balls and strikes a batter has in his current plate appearance. It is usually announced as a pair of numbers, for example, 3-1 , with the first number being the number of balls and the second being the number of strikes.An individual pitch may also be...
Rules in covered facilities
In a retractable
A retractable roof is a kinetic architectural element used in many sports venues, in which a roof made of a suitable material can readily be mechanically deployed from some retracted or open position into a closed or extended position that completely covers the field of play and spectator areas...
or fixed roof baseball facility, a batted ball is a foul ball if it:
- strikes the roof, roof support structure, or objects suspended from the roof (e.g., lights, speakers) in fair territory and lands in foul territory
- becomes lodged in any of those objects in foul territory and does not fall back to the playing field
Rules vary from stadium to stadium for a ball striking the roof or suspended object in foul territory. Some consider such a ball to still be in flight, while others consider it a foul ball and dead from the time it strikes.
A ball that hits the roof or a suspended object in fair territory is in play. If it gets stuck in fair territory, the batter is called out and runners have to return to their starting bases.
On rare occasions, such as in extra innings
Extra innings is the extension of a baseball or softball game in order to break a tie.Ordinarily, a baseball game consists of nine innings , each of which is divided into halves: the visiting team bats first, after which the home team takes its turn at bat...
or the ninth inning of a tie game when a runner is on third base, fielders have been known to let long foul flies drop rather than risk losing the game on a sacrifice fly
In baseball, a sacrifice fly is a batted ball that satisfies four criteria:* There are fewer than two outs when the ball is hit.* The ball is hit to the outfield....
. Sometimes, in that situation, a fielder will not try to catch a ball that is close to the foul line in the hope that the ball will go foul at the last second—neither catching the ball nor letting it drop would prevent a defeat.
In different situations, a foul ball may be considered a positive or negative outcome of a pitch or swing. When there are zero or one strikes, a foul ball counts as a strike, benefiting the pitcher. However, a foul ball may reveal to the batter that he has timed a pitch well and need only make adjustment to the location of his swing on the next such pitch; this is often called a good cut
or simply a good swing. Foul balls with two strikes are generally considered positive for the batter, since he thus avoids strike three on a potentially difficult pitch. Also, foul balls with two strikes increase the pitcher
In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throwsthe baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the...
's pitch count
In baseball statistics, pitch count is the number of pitches thrown by a pitcher in a game.Pitch counts are especially a concern for young pitchers, pitchers recovering from injury, or pitchers who have a history of injuries. The pitcher wants to keep the pitch count low because of his stamina...
, adding to his/her fatigue, thus providing some small advantage to the offense. A strategy of swinging on any ball to try to produce additional fouls and prolong an at-bat is often used against strong pitchers to try to drive them from the game sooner (and also the possibility of the pitcher throwing a pitch a hitter can get a hit on); this does, however, have the disadvantage of generating more strikeouts.