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What Is Baseballs Infield Fly Rule?


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What Is The Infield Fly Rule?

Baseball Rules - What is Baseballs Infield Fly Rule?

If there are 1 or fewer outs with runners on 1st & 2nd or 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, and a batter hits a pop-up to the infield that is easily catch-able by any member of the fielding team, the umpire may verbally announce "Infield Fly - Batter's Out" even before the ball is attempted to be caught. Then, even if the ball is dropped, the batter would be called out and the runners would be allowed to safely stay on their original bases as if this were a pop-up caught for an out.

Why Have This Rule?

A fielder could intentionally allow the ball to drop, and this would result in a force-out situation. For example, lets say a ball popped up right to the 2nd baseman and a runner is at 1st. The 2nd baseman intentionally allows the ball to fall off his glove to the ground. He/she could then pick up the ball, tag 2nd for the force out, and then throw to 1st or 3rd to make an easy double play. In this example, intentional bad play results in an extra out. The Infield Fly Rule would prevent this double play and result in only one out as if the fly ball were caught.

Confused Yet?

Many sources say that this rule does not apply to the runner at 2nd base, yet at MLB.com, they state

. . . the batter is automatically out if he hits a fly ball "which can be caught by an infielder with ordinary effort." The umpires loudly announce and signal, "Infield Fly, batter is out!" so that the runners are alerted that, even if the ball is dropped, they do not have to leave their bases.

So, use of the word runners implies that all runners will be safe once the rule is invoked. Furthermore, no specification of which infielder is able to make the catch.

Is This Rule Commonly Invoked in Youth Baseball?

No, not at ages 12 and under.  At the 9 and under ages, the players often lack the skills to make the double play described in the previous paragraph and also coaches would discourage intentionally dropping the ball. At the 10-12 yr old level of play, coaches will generally discourage players from intentionally dropping balls. In all the games I have watched at the 7-12 yr old level, I have never once seen a situation where this rule was invoked or even a situation where it should have been invoked. Keep in mind this has to be an intentional drop as determined by the umpire. Younger players will often drop the ball unintentionally and this rule would not apply.

So that is all you need to know with respect to youth baseball ages 12 and under. The Infield Fly Rule is not something you need to worry about. And should it be invoked, the batter will be called out and the runners on base will be safe.


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