Baseball's Infield Fly Rule: Explained!
The infield fly rule is a situational play that is ruled on by the umpire when the following conditions are met:
1) There must be less than 2 outs in the inning
2) There must be a force play at third base or homeplate
3) There is a good chance that an infielder will catch the "pop up" in fair territory (that the umpire considers a routine play or "sure thing").
When all three conditions are met the umpire rules an "Infield Fly" or "Infield Fly Rule" Umpire.
When Infield Fly Rule is called ...
- The batter is declared out.
- Runners may advance at the risk of the ball being caught.
- The ball does not have to be caught by an infielder.
- Runners must tag up (retouch the base) before advancing. Failure to do so could result in a putout on an appeal play by the opponents.
- If the player drops the infield fly there is no need to tag up.
- Player catching the infield fly ball gets credited with a Putout.
- If nobody catches it, the fielder closest is credited with a Putout.
- The rule applies to pop ups. No bunts! No Line Drives!
- No error is charged to a player who drops a ball when the Infield Fly Rule is in effect.
- An error could occur after the Infield Fly Rule is in effect. It is in effect until the ball is caught or the ball is dropped.
Other Important Facts
The infield fly rule was added because fielders were intentionally dropping fly balls and getting double and sometimes triple plays.
Just to make sure you understand and there are no misconceptions ... An infield fly rule CANNOT occur with only a runner on first base.
"Infield Fly" : Putting it "In the Books"
Here is an example of the Infield Fly Rule. The scorecard is reflecting all at-bats of the first four batters:
- Jones leads off the game with a double "2B" to right center field. The direction of the hit is shown by the thin line starting at Home and pointing to right-center field. The Double is noted by the thicker line going from Home to First Base and from First to Second Base. The Double was hit on a 1 Ball 0 Strike count (noted by the number "1" in the squares located in the upper left hand corner of the cell.
- Clark follows with a Base on Balls "BB". A line is drawn from home to first base to note the runner reached first base. The batter walked on the fifth pitch (noted by the numbers 1,2,3 &4 in the small boxes in the scoresheet). The last pitch to a batter is not entered into the scoresheet. So if counting pitches make sure you consider this or your pitch count will not be accurate
- Hanks follows with a Base on Balls "BB". A line is drawn from home to first for Hanks. .
- Clark advances to second base. A line is drawn from once to second.
- Jones advances to third base (line is drawn from second to third)
- Peoples hits a pop fly near the shortstop and is called out under the infield fly rule "IF" . Credit the shortstop "6" with the Putout. It was the first out of the inning, represented by the circled number "1" in the upper corner. Score the play IF-6 for Infield Fly Rule. The "6" represents he putout by the shortstop.
Learning the infield fly rule Is an important part of scoring baseball and an essential fact all youth baseball players should know.