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Rule book help – ball lodged in Josh Bard’s mask

Posted by Andy on September 7, 2011

Reader fajita writes in with the following question--anybody know the answer?

so you probably have seen the video of this...

first pitch of the at bat, pennington (A's) foul tips a ball straight back, and the ball lodges into the catcher's (josh bard) facemask.

my question is what would have happened if it was a 2-strike count on pennington?  would that have counted as a foul-tip catch and been a strike out?

(Andy here again. If you want a good reason not to like Jorge Posada, look at this bonehead play. The argument afterwards makes it twice as bad. The rules on this one are very clear.)

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 at 6:40 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

62 Responses to “Rule book help – ball lodged in Josh Bard’s mask”

  1. 3d strike must be caught with the mitt, with no help from equipment not even chest protector.

  2. Would it be any different than a ball getting stuck in a fielder's glove? I'd say he'd have to toss his mask & ball to the 1B for the out...or tag the batter with the ball in his mask.

  3. As I recall from my Little League umping days, it is a special rule for foul tips; e.g., no trapping the ball against the body at all... any Real Umps out there?

  4. On a third strike if the batter doen't make contact.

    My best guess would be the umpire gives the batter at least first base and the ball is dead. Would other runners be allowed to advance? If 1st is open, do runners on 2nd and 3rd advance?

  5. I believe #1 is correct that a foul tip is strike three only when caught perfectly cleanly in the mitt.

  6. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    My guess would be that it simply would have been ruled a foul ball -- the same as if it would have hit the backstop or drifted into the third or fourth row behind first or third.

  7. The comment to Rule 6.05(b) discusses trapping the ball against the chest protector, which I would consider analogous to the ball lodging in the mask. So the key in the hypothetical would be whether, in the umpire's judgment, the ball deflected off the glove first or went straight into the mask. Although, it specifically mentions lodged in the catcher's paraphernalia in paragraph 1 of the comment and not in paragraph 2, so the post-deflection might have to be trapped, not lodged.

    (b) A third strike is legally caught by the catcher;
    Rule 6.05(b) Comment: “Legally caught” means in the catcher’s glove before the ball touches the ground. It is not legal if the ball lodges in his clothing or paraphernalia; or if it touches the umpire and is caught by the catcher on the rebound.
    If a foul tip first strikes the catcher’s glove and then goes on through and is caught by both hands against his body or protector, before the ball touches the ground, it is a strike, and if third strike, batter is out. If smothered against his body or protector, it is a catch provided the ball struck the catcher’s glove or hand first.

  8. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    Andy: I'm no Posada fan, and the fact that he's a Yankee only makes my opinion of him worse. Nevertheless, I will try my best to maintain my objectivity. Unless I'm missing something, Posada was called out for the wrong reason, and had every right to argue the call.

    At the 0:12 point of the video, you see Posada make one step toward the base line with his left foot, but he was still quite obviously in foul territory, based on what little of the baseline survived the weather conditions. However, the video pans away from Posada's positioning. Later in the video, it is evident that that is the only step he took in that direction, and actually turned clockwise before returning to the base. I see no evidence whatever that he either returned to fair territory or turned toward second beyond first base.

    However, at 0:45, it is quite clear that Posada was in fair territory and interfered with Reynolds' catch, for which he should have been called out. This is a call that umps don't call enough.

  9. The rule is that if you make any indication of going toward second base, then your protection for overrunning first base is nullified. It doesn't matter if you are in fair or foul territory.

  10. bluejaysstatsgeek Says:

    I'm just looking for some clarification.

    Here's the relevant portions of the Rule Book:

    Under Rule 7.08 (c)

    EXCEPTION: A batter-runner cannot be tagged out after overrunning or oversliding first base if he returns immediately to the base;

    7.08 (j) He fails to return at once to first base after overrunning or oversliding that base. If he attempts to run to second he is out when tagged. If, after overrunning or oversliding first base he starts toward the dugout, or toward his position, and fails to return to first base at once, he is out, on appeal, when he or the base is tagged;

    Rule 7.08(j) Comment: Runner who touches first base in overrunning and is declared safe by the umpire has, within the intent of Rule 4.09(a) “reached first base” and any run which scores on such a play counts, even though the runner subsequently becomes the third out for failure to return “at once,” as covered in Rule 7.08(j).

    I don't see where what Posada did constitutes an attempt to run to second. If that step constitutes an attempt to run to second, should there be a clarifying comment?

  11. Sure what Posada did counts as an attempt to run to second. You might be envisioning that a guy has to get into a full sprint and halfway toward second base for it to count as attempting for second, but the rule means that any sort of motion that is a clear indication of going toward second counts. There is no question that Posada veered toward second base there.

    If Posada's move did NOT count, think about the ramifications. Now every player should overrun first and take a turn and a step or two toward the case of a bobbled ball, they can continue on, otherwise they can safely retreat to first on the overrun rule.

  12. I didn't need another reason to hate Posada. I think the whole bitching about getting pushed down to 9th in the lineup earlier this season was more than enough. Yeah we get you're a 'veteran' but apparently you don't know how to be a team player.

    Actually on second thought, maybe he's the ultimate team player cause he took himself out of the lineup that day! Seriously though seems to me some players get so big headed that they don't understand they are no longer useful enough to be everyday players on a winning team. /rant

  13. Oh and the whole Posada ruling, I absolutely remember learning that exact rule back in tee ball when I was 4 years old. I am not joking. Any motion toward 2nd base becomes intent, clear as day he was out.

  14. I saw this in a softball game I was watching. The batter made it to first, turned right and on the way back to first, fist bumped the 1st base coach. The ball was still in play and there was a throw to 3rd and the batter took off to 2nd while the ball was still in play and made it safely. The umpire called the batter out, saying the first base coach is considered out of bounds.

    Here's the rules
    On a missed or called 3rd strike, if the ball gets lodged in the catcher's mask, the batter gets 1st and all runners advance one base. On a foul tip, nobody advances and the batter is not out.

  15. Charles @14,

    The Rule you refer to (5.09(g)) references a 3rd strike or 4th ball, not a foul tip, which is the situation in question. 5.09(g), also contains the qualifier "and remains out of play," which implies the catcher has an opportunity to remove the ball from his equipment.

  16. @9 That's actually not what the rule states. According to rule 7.08 (c):

    "He is tagged, when the ball is alive, while off his base. EXCEPTION: A batter-runner cannot be tagged out after overrunning or oversliding first base if he returns immediately to the base;

    It does not say anything about making indications of going toward second base, but just that you must return to first base immediately. You could easily overrun first base into foul territory and make a loop path back to first base (which might initially look like a hook towards second base) and still keep your tag-out protection.

    I think this is actually a tougher call than it appears because in this case, Jorge clearly pivots and pauses looking at the ball, but then does complete a 180 and goes back to first (albeit slowly). The judgment here should be whether or not he immediately returned to first. Any sort of a pause or hesitation, which he did display, could be considered non-immediate. It shouldn't have anything to do with how he jerked his body in the direction of second base, though, since he could continue that motion and pivot right back to first base.

  17. Andy, I'm a little bit concerned. In the "David Ortiz is the Greatest Player in the History of Baseball" post, you showed some real love for Big Papi (albeit, acknowledging past errors in judgement). And, in this, some real distaste for Posada. Is this a trend? Has Bud sent the suits after you to show you the error of your ways? Inquiring minds want to know?

  18. bluejaysstatsgeek, you are absolutely wrong and possibly right- that is 100%, unquestionably a move toward second, and he was justifiably called out at that point. However, one could make the argument that he should have been called out in the first place (I'd say- despite hating the Yankees- that "safe" was the correct call there because the angle of the throw was such that it probably would have hit him no matter where he was on the basepath). That rule should be used more often, but I don't think it needed to be used in that particular instance.

    Either way, Posada should have been out, and he was out, so everything's hunky-dory in the end.

  19. oneblankspace Says:

    You are all missing something from rule 2 on the definition of a foul tip:

    It is not a foul tip unless caught.

    A foul tip is always a strike.

    So if the ball just barely touches the bat and hits the ground before it is caught, it is not a foul tip, but a foul ball.

  20. #17, what do you mean...did you think I was a Yankees fan before?

  21. 20, Andy. No chance I thought you were a Yankee fan. Just teasing on going over to the dark side when it comes to Ortiz. No harm intended.

  22. @16, Brian -- I think you're overlooking Rule 7.08(j), which says in part:

    "If he attempts to run to second he is out when tagged."

    Since there's no guidance on what constitutes an attempt to run to second, it's up to the umpire's judgment. And they're pretty consistent in interpreting that broadly.

    It all would have been moot if Jorge hadn't channeled Fred Sanford on his return to first base.

  23. @15

    I was correct. There are 2 separate rules as I said "Here's the rules".

    The first rule.
    On a missed or called 3rd strike, if it lodges in the mask, it's a dead ball. The batter is awarded first and all runners advance 1 base.

    The 2nd I mentioned applies in a tipped foul situation.
    If it lodges in the catcher's mask. The ball is a dead and the runners stay put, like any other uncaught foul ball. The reason I pointed that out, is that runners can steal on a caught foul tip without tagging up. If a runner were trying to steal on that pitch, he had to go back.

  24. Is a mask equipment or is it part of the uniform

  25. @25 equipment

  26. Posada was out. It's fortunate from a Yankee perspective that it didn't impact the outcome of the game, but he did appear to make the turn, and even the Yankee announcers acknowledged it. Young player, he will learn from his mistakes......

  27. A few years ago, there was a player that basically made a head fake towards 2nd, and even he was called out. It's amazing that Posada could play baseball for so long and not know that you can't move towards 2nd (I'm pretty sure everyone on my softball team does). It's worse than Donovan McNabb not knowing the NFL overtime rule.

    I think maybe Posada is trying to make it to the top of this list.

  28. What if a throw from the outfield lodges in the catcher's mask while he wearing it? Can the catcher tag out a runner at home with his head/mask? Yeah, it'll probably never happen, but I'd like to see it. 🙂

  29. How about that basketball player who says he could drive to the basket equally well with his left or right hands because he's amphibious?

    Cervelli has homers in three of his last four games after hitting two in his first 500+ PAs.

  30. According to Dave Winfield he once mis-threw a ball from the outfield so hard that it lodged in his SS's buttcheeks. Now that would be an embarrassing way to get tagged out.

  31. Voomo, you're getting a bit out there...

  32. @29

    Does anyone know if the catcher take his mask off and toss it aside when the ball is hit and he thinks there might be a play at home? I know whenever he tosses his mask, it's supposed to land in foul territory, so it won't interfere with any plays. In your case, though, the ball is dead and the runners would advance. I don't know if it's 1 or 2 bases.

  33. I'm in favor of any rule that would cause a catcher in this situation to try to run around tagging the batter/runner with his face.

  34. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Statboy {#26}:

    Thanks for that list. I am always glad when a list like that appears, and my boyhood hero -- Ernie Lombardi, whose home-to-first time was measured with a calender -- isn't mentioned.

  35. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I think maybe Posada is trying to make it to the top of this list.

    He is already at the top of B-R's list, at -35 runs. For some reason I can't create a link to the table right now. Frank Thomas is only at -26 runs on that list. I wonder why there's such a big difference. My guess is perhaps BP analyzes more types of baserunning situations than B-R, so it finds bigger ranges of performance.

  36. The ONE defense of Posada, and it wasn't clear from the video, was that the O player who picked up the ball seemed to signal for time. I had to listen on mute, so I couldn't hear any commentating or noise from the field. Had the ump offered time, obviously, he should not have been called out and the error was by the umpire. Posada might have assumed the time was offered when he saw the gesture. But, yea, you can go into fair territory and not make a move toward 2nd and be protected AND can stay in foul territory but make an attempt and not be protected. Fair/foul has nothing to do with it.

  37. BSK even that isn't true, because if the player called time, then why did Posada make an obvious movement toward second base, with the idea of going that way? He clearly was not just turning around to go back to first, and if he thought the ball was dead, then he wouldn't be thinking about advancing a base.

    I don't really mind the bonehead play so only happened because he was being aggressive and trying to help his team win. The argument afterwards is what bugs me. When you're wrong, you're wrong.

  38. happy birthday Hooks Wiltse!

  39. @32,
    Andy I read that in Winfield's autobiography.
    He was with the Padres. Throw was supposed to go home, but he held on for too long, shortstop had turned his back to watch the play, ball hit him right in the crack and stayed there. Shortstop started jumping up and down like he'd been stung by a bee. Everybody on the field fell down laughing.

    Now, either:
    1. That is true.
    2. Winfield made it up. Or,
    3. Somehow I imagined reading that and I'm confused.

    I've done the math, and the chances of each of the above being true are:
    1. 60% (though probably exaggerated)
    2. 21%
    3. 19%

  40. Andy-

    I should have been clearer... what I meant was that the only POSSIBLE defense was the confusion over whether or not time was called. It was hard to pair up the actions because I didn't see an angle that had both the defender and Posada, so I'm giving the benefit of the doubt that MAYBE Posada turned toward second, saw time "called", then retreated lazily back.

    In the end, yea, when you're wrong, you're wrong. It looked like he was trying to point to his footprints, as if he was relying on the fair/foul argument, which is the wrong argument. Unless, of course, he was attempting to do a forensic analysis that would have demonstrated his "intent" via the depth and pressure of the footprints.

  41. Charles @33-

    Catchers are taught to locate the ball before throwing their mask. This is especially true on foul popups behind the plate. I've seen it happen that the catcher tosses his mask immediately only to later trip on it when it lands near the ball's destination. On potential plays at the plate, catchers would probably be wise to keep their masks on to offer protection during the collision (though this probably unfortunately leads to catchers feeling invincible and blocking the plate without the ball); if they do toss it, they ought to toss it as far towards their own dugout as possible or towards the back screen.

  42. Posada has never heard that you can't make a motion towards second after overrunning first? That's as bad as $-Rod not realizing that swatting the ball out of a pitcher's glove, screaming "I got it" on the basepaths, or running directly over the pitchers' mound are frowned upon. What do they teach these Yankees anyways? Besides how to be overpaid?

  43. @42 I looked at a few videos and he never takes it off when runners are coming home. I know they take them off for foul popups to help see the ball and they hang on to it as long as possible then stop.

  44. A player or manager can call time, but an umpire doesn't have to give it. And the umpire wouldn't have if he thought he turned. Apparently the first baseman thought he turned because he asked for the ball and tagged him.

    Wouldn't it be great to see a catcher and third baseman tossing a catcher's mask back and forth on a run down?

    SUPPOSEDLY Winfield hit Darrel Thomas on April 30, 1974

  45. I didn't realize I came to B-R to find out why I was supposed to not like players. I always through this was a professional stat site, not a fan-boy site.

  46. @46 Roger-in fairness, there's a lot of very fine work here, with occasional bouts of silliness. The posters are obviously very good at what they do, and many of the comments show a deep understanding of stats and the game's history. This post just happens to have engendered more of the silly.

  47. A lot of this "not like" business is because a player keeps beating up your favorite team or they play for a traditional rival, so I don't generally take the poster seriously. A lot of the players are well liked in their own towns and do a lot for the community. I remember watching a TV show where they asked Ortiz to walk through a section of NYC and ask people for hugs. A few said no, but most did it and asked for pictures and autographs.

  48. @47 and 48...I do get it. I'm not a heavy poster here, every few months, but regular reader, that's why the comment sort of seem to come out of left field. I expect the "not like" stuff from fans, but even that's pretty rare. There's a few regular trolls, but it's all straight-forward.

    That's why I was surprised it came from Andy, although it seemed to be all in good fun, but then again, maybe not.

  49. Roger, I'm not sure I get the criticism. As a stats-oriented guy, one thing that really bugs me is players who don't perform according to the rules. That was an awful bonehead play late in a tie game well after midnight. Posada deserves some criticism for such a terrible mistake. If that happened in a playoff game that the Yankees lost, it would go down as an all-time boner. Maybe it's my wording about finding a reason not to like a player, and what I mean is not disliking the person but rather disliking the player. Pick your hero--Derek Jeter, Dustin Pedroia, or whomever--those guys don't make bonehead mistakes like that.

  50. Andy, thanks, although that's now heading toward a strawman. :- )

    I wasn't questioning if Posada made a bonehead play. I wouldn't have questioned it, or even noticed it, if it was part of a recap. It was the fact it was added in to a post that had nothing to do with Posada or recaps and the wording "if you want a good reason not to like Jorge Posada..."

    I'm never really looking for a reason to dislike any player. It could have read "if you want a good reason not to like David Ortiz, or Chipper Jones, or ______," I would have had the same reaction. Seemed like a UFO. I'm not looking for a reason to dislike a player, especially one who is within weeks of completing a border-line HOF career and as far as I can tell has played it very hard, even if he did it in pinstripes.

    Now as to why he made the bonehead play, who knows. Yet I'd say all players at points make bonehead plays, even the more sounds base runners like Pedroia and Jeter, and especially one who has played as long as Posada. Time and games played increases the odds, and since I doubt he's ever been called out on a play like that before, I'm guessing he does know the rule, especially since as a catcher he is always looking at the runner go down the line to see if he makes a move toward second. So maybe he just argued because he felt like an idiot, or maybe he thought he could get it overturned, or maybe actually thought he didn't turn when he did, or maybe his wife told him they were getting divored before the game and he had a brain freeze, or he's completing career death, or maybe he found out his son needs another surgery, or....well you get the point.

    I thought the language was odd.

  51. Roger, thanks for the explanation.

    Now that I better understand your point, I think I can explain my language better. A lot of people dislike Posada, and I think a lot of that dislike is for poor reasons (such as simply playing for the Yankees). What I posted what a legitimate reason to dislike Posada, so those "haters" who are looking for a reason can actually point to something legitimate instead of the B.S. they usually point to.

    I didn't necessarily write it very well, but hopefully it at least makes a little more sense now.

  52. Andy, and after posts 47 amd 48, I went back and looked at your original comment, and I figured that's exactly what you meant, so all's fine!

  53. David P Stokes Says:


    Ernie Lombardi was your boyhood hero? No offense intended, Frank, but if you don't mind my asking, how old are you?

  54. A year or two ago, I believe Frank mentioned that he was in his early 70s. Frank was at one of Vander Meer's no-hitters, and that was in 1938, so I'm thinking Frank was born in 1933-ish, making him 78-ish now.

  55. I like Posada, but no question he was out. He started to go towards 2nd, and you could tell that he would have gone for it if the fielder didn't get control of the ball. That is not immediately returning to first--that's him heading towards 2nd and changing his mind.

    But you haters should find a better way to direct your energy. Namaste.

  56. Brendan Burke Says:


    Of course, if the ball hits the mask, it's an automatic triple.

  57. David P Stokes Says:

    Frank got to see one of Vander Meers' no-hitter? That's so cool.

  58. By the way, according to WAR, if you put much stock in that, Posada has been a more valuable player than Ernie Lombardi. Seems a bit strange to me.

  59. @57

    I think if he throws the mask at the ball, they runners might get 3 bases; they do if you throw a glove. What if the ball hits the mask lying in fair territory? Or in foul territory? Are you saying those are 3 bases also?

  60. @28, that's one hell of a list of bad baserunners! What it also tells me is you have to be one hell of a player to make that list. That's quite a team of HOFer and All-Stars.

  61. @59

    Career WAR points are additive over a career, you just add up the WAR points in each year. Posada's PA/WAR is equivalent to Lombardi's. Part of the reason his WAR is higher is that his PA is higher. Lombardi's BA and OPS+ are higher, but Posada's OBP, SLP, OPS, AB/HR is higher. So neither has a clear advantage in hitting.

    Here's something that was true 100% of the time with Lombardi and Posada. If you look at the PA and WAR only for adjacent years. If the PA goes up the next year, the WAR goes up. If the PA goes up the next year, but the WAR went down, the BA dropped. If the PA goes down the next year, the WAR goes down. If the PA goes down and the WAR went up, the BA went up. Worked every time. If the WAR and the PA went in the same direction, I didn't look at BA.

    Just for fun, I took Lombardi and Posada's PA, WAR, BA for each year, pooled them together and ranked them by increasing PA, if the PA went up, the WAR went up. When the WAR went down, I looked at BA. 17/32 times the PA went up and the WAR went up. 15 times, the PA went up and the WAR went down. 11/15 times the BA went down.