As part of a three-part series, Gary McClure explains a few of the more common yet misunderstood terms in baseball.
Q: What is the difference between a foul ball and a foul tip?
Gary McClure: A “foul tip” is a live ball that is hit and flies sharply into the hand or glove of the catcher – it is treated the same way as a missed swing and is a strike against the batter. Only when the ball is caught under these circumstances is it considered a foul tip. A foul ball, by contrast, is a dead ball.
Q: Is a ball that hits first base considered a foul?
Gary McClure: First base, along with every other base on the field, is considered to be in fair territory as long as it does not touch anything other than the playing surface in foul territory prior to hitting the base.
Q: What are the rules for tagging or forcing a runner out?
Gary McClure: This is fairly straightforward. A runner may be counted out in one of two ways: Tag out, where the offensive player is physically touched with the ball or ball in the glove or hand of a defensive player who has the ball under control throughout the tag prior to the runner reaching a base. He must also maintain control of the ball until the point he is attempting to remove the ball from the glove, the hand, or throwing the ball to another defensive player. The player may be moving toward a successive base or trying to recover their position from an attempted base.
A force out, occurs when a player hits a ground ball and the player or players on base must advance to the next base prior to the defensive player touching that base with any part of the player’s body, with the ball in hand, or in the glove while maintaining control of the ball.
Q: What is the distance from home plate to the home run fence and also from the home plate to first base?
Gary McClure: It is recommended that the distance for a home run is at least, 300' down the right and left field lines, 360' in the right and left field gaps, and at least 380' to center field, at the college level and up. However, it is considered the norm when it is approximately 330' down the lines, 375' in the gaps, and 400' in center field. From the pitching rubber to home plate it is 60' 6", and there is 90' between each base.