While reading Rule 5.05, I came across the following in (a)(5):

A fair ball passes over a fence or into the stands at a distance from home base of 250 feet or more. Such hit entitles the batter to a home run when he shall have touched all bases legally. A fair fly ball that passes out of the playing field at a point less than 250 feet from home base shall entitle the batter to advance to second base only;

I am unable to picture a stadium having a wall in fair territory less than 250 feet away from home. In fact, a mandate from Rule 2.01 says:

The distance from home base to the nearest fence, stand or other obstruction on fair territory shall be 250 feet or more.

What is the historical significance, if any, of having "less than 250 feet" in rule 5.05(a)(5) if ballparks cannot have walls less than 250 feet away from home plate (per rule 2.01)?

1 Answer 1


I found the following, from this website:

Prior to the 1930 American League season, and prior to the 1931 National League season, fly balls that bounced over or through the outfield fence were home runs! All batted balls that cleared or went through the fence on the fly or that were hit more than 250 feet in the air and cleared or went through the fence after a bounce in fair territory were counted as home runs. After the rule change the batter was awarded second base and these were called "automatic doubles" (ground-rule doubles are ballpark-specific rules) and are covered by rule 6.09(d)-(h) in the MLB Rule Book.

It would seem that ground-rule doubles were counted as home runs back then, as long as they traveled at least 250 feet in the air first.

  • 1
    A fascinating fact for sure, but doesn't seem to cover what the OP is asking, which is about fair balls that leave the playing field within 250 feet of home plate. The old rule only covers balls that fly more than 250 feet from home. Apr 22, 2019 at 18:11

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