Monday, April 19, 2021

Ground Rule Double - Batted Ball In Flight Deflects Off Wall

In this Rules Review, tmac visits with the Official Baseball Rules' definition of IN FLIGHT when Brewers batter Daniel Robertson's fly ball to left field in St. Louis hit below the top of the wall and bounced out of the playing field, ruled not a home run but a two-base award by 3B Umpire Roberto Ortiz, a call confirmed via Replay Review.

To decipher this play, we find that IN FLIGHT is defined as "a batted, thrown, or pitched ball which has not yet touched the ground or some object other than a fielder." Combining this definition with rule 5.06(b)(4)(a)'s requirement that a home run "goes out of the playing field in flight," we find this play does not qualify for a home run. NCAA rule 2-27 and NFHS 2.5.1g regarding batted balls leaving the playing field in flight agree.

The MLB Umpire Manual's interpretation for 5.05(a) [Fly ball striking top of outfield wall] ("A fair ball passes over a fence or into the stands at a distance from home base of 250 feet or more") shares the sentiment: If a fair fly ball strikes the top of the outfield wall and rebounds onto the playing field, it is considered in play, but if it falls out of play, it shall be ruled a home run.

Because the St. Louis play featured a fair fly ball striking below the top of the wall and bouncing out of play, it is considered a two-base award, or, colloquially, a ground rule double (MLB's ground rules sometimes explicitly specify this, e.g., "Ball in flight strikes fence or scoreboard and goes over higher portion of outfield fence: Two bases," making this a true ground rule double). For the purposes of Brewers-Cardinals, the MLBUM top-of-wall interp would not apply.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Milwaukee gets two bases after Busch Stadium caroms ball over wall (CCS)


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