Does a Player Need to Tag Up On Bobbled Ball?
by LR0909 (New York)
There is a man on third and less than two outs. The batter hits a fly ball and a fielder attempts to catch the ball but it bounces off his glove and another fielder catches it. Does the runner on base have to tag up?
The Coach’s Answer
Thanks for the good question!
Official baseball rules state that “runners may leave their bases the instant the first fielder touches the baseball.” To answer your question, the runner on 3rd base must tag up, but he can leave third base as soon as the first fielder touches the baseball.
I have actually seen this play happen and the umpire ruled incorrectly on the play. Common sense should tell us all that it would be unfair to the baserunner to make him wait for the fielder to secure the ball. Otherwise, a good outfielder would simply bobble the ball a couple times to throw the timing off of the runner to minimize the chance at advancing or scoring.
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