In baseball, when a runner is forced to advance to first base and a fielder catches the ball, the fielder can make a force out by touching the base with their feet when getting the ball. They can also make a force out by sliding with their feet first or diving with the ball in their glove.

However, can a fielder touch the base with their non-ball hand and make a force out, just like they can with their feet?

For reference I found this. https://baseballxgear.com/what-is-a-force-out-in-baseball

A force out will be recorded when a defender touches an unoccupied base that the runner is being forced to try to advance to while in possession of a hit ball or dropped 3rd strike before the runner reaches that base.

But the word "touches" seem very vage

1 Answer 1


Yes, touching the base with their empty hand (or any other part of their body, clothing, or equipment) is sufficient to complete the tag as long as they are in possession of the baseball.

From the MLB Rulebook (page 156), the definition of TAG is:

A TAG is the action of a fielder in touching a base with his body while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove;....

Also, while body is used above, I see no reason that it is not identical with person in the definitions:

The PERSON of a player or an umpire is any part of his body, his clothing or his equipment.

So hands, shoes, and gloves all are valid.

  • One possible distinction: the definition of "tag" excludes jewelry, which the definition of "person" may not (it includes clothing without specific mention of jewelry).
    – chepner
    May 9, 2023 at 13:46
  • Do you have any example of this happen in a baseball game? Because if you could tag with the non ball hand, I think When a runner attempts to steal second base in baseball, the fielder may leave one hand behind to touch the player and extend the other hand to catch the ball from the pitcher in order to make the play faster. May 10, 2023 at 11:41
  • 1
    @JuanCarlosOropeza, stolen bases are not force plays, so the runner must be tagged with the ball. That's a different scenario from the question.
    – BowlOfRed
    May 10, 2023 at 16:22
  • Yes, but you reference the definition of TAG. Is TAG a runner different as TAG a base? If you have an example of a first base getting of base because trow was wide and touching the base with hand without ball will also help. May 11, 2023 at 2:33
  • I only included the part of the definition about tagging a base. There is a second clause that defines tagging a runner. Yes, the two are different.
    – BowlOfRed
    May 11, 2023 at 5:09

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