To my recollection, if a fielder attempts to catch a batted ball before it hits the field, but then misplays it AND it falls into fair ground, then it is a fair ball.

I just witnessed a high pop up in foul territory being fielded by the catcher. The batter was not legging it out to first. Given the situation posed above, couldn't the catcher slap it into fair ground, then either him or a defender backing the play up throw out the batter, granted he would still be strolling unawares?

  • What would be the benefit, even if it were fair? Seems like a harder play than just catching it (for an out).
    – Joe
    Jun 8, 2016 at 19:34
  • It would only be harder if it were not practiced well. This would be a great benefit, especially if the batter is a difficult out. Imagine Barry Bonds doing such a thing in his heyday. Instead of worrying whether the next pitch is going in the Bay, they could dispatch him with this strategy. It would not be executed all the time. This defense would be used as often as something like the first baseman palming the ball until the unwary runner at first led off.It also depends on the batter not running the play out and not paying attention to the play behind him and/or being caught close to home. Jun 8, 2016 at 19:44
  • I don't see the utility. Catching a popup isn't hard if it's close to the foul line. How are you going to induce Bonds to hit pop flies? I guess if it's bases loaded, but then it would be covered under the spirit of the infield fly rule.
    – Joe
    Jun 8, 2016 at 20:31
  • 3
    You do understand that a batter is out if he pops the ball up foul and it is caught?
    – Joe
    Jun 8, 2016 at 20:31
  • 1
    In olden days fielders used to intentionally miss balls in order to make a double play. That's why we have the infield fly rule. Jun 10, 2016 at 14:40

1 Answer 1


Your recollection is wrong, at least under MLB rules. Quoting from the Official MLB rules, page 144:

A FOUL BALL is a batted ball that [...] while on or over foul territory, touches the person of an umpire or player

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