Monday, September 19, 2022

Field of Dreams HR or Corn Catch? Rules Analysis

The Field of Dreams college baseball game between Luther College and Briar Cliff featured a 1st inning home run into the corn field by Cam Reimer, although outfielder Cullen Stamp dove/tripped/fell into the corn trying to catch the fly ball. Rules regarding ballpark design help us in our quest to answer the question of what umpires would have called had Stamp successfully caught the baseball.

Official Baseball Rule 2.01 is called Layout of the Field and specifies that "the distance from home base to the nearest fence, stand, or other obstruction on fair territory shall be 250 feet or more." Although the distance provision of this rule didn't always exist (it was put into the book primarily to account for some bizarre dimensions the Dodgers encountered when playing at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum their first few years in California), the general gist is expanded upon in Rule 5.06(b)(4) regarding base awards and baseballs leaving the playing field in flight.

Although no solid fence-line exists at the Field of Dreams ballpark in Iowa, the manicured corn-line serves as an adequate boundary to mark in and out of play territory. Accordingly, had the fielder caught the ball while in the air, having last touched in-play territory, this would be a catch, and if the fielder then fell into the corn, it would be a catch-and-carry situation (dead ball, out stands, runners advance one base, if there are runners). However, if the fielder were to catch the ball only after stepping into the corn field, this would not be a valid catch. We also discuss the issue of a stadium lighting pole in live ball territory, akin (in a sense) to the flagpole formerly of Tal's Hill in Houston (MLB).

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Can of Corn HR or Catch? Visiting the Rulebook (CCS)


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