SITUATION - The runner on second base was stealing to third. Sliding in the catcher had made the throw with plenty of time and the third baseman made the tag low to the ground. The ball was in the web as the tag was made and then the strange event happened where the force of the sliding tag cased the ball to rise up through the web and it was sitting up on top of closed web of the mitt. The ball just balanced there as the field umpire called the sliding runner safe. The third baseman then took his throwing hand and picked up the ball off the glove with his throwing hand and the defensive team coaches and fans went ballistic over what they felt was the wrong call.
QUESTIONS - If the ball never touched the ground was the tagged runner out? If the ball is sitting/balancing upon the top of the glove does that still demonstrate control? How long does the ball have to remain in the mitt for the play to be called an out? Is this an umpire judgment call or a protestable ruling call?
A CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; providing he does not use his cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession. It is not a catch, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his contact with the ball, he collides with a player, or with a wall, or if he falls down, and as a result of such collision or falling, drops the ball.
It is not a catch if a fielder touches a fly ball which then hits a member of the offensive team or an umpire and then is caught by another defensive player. If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught. In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.
Rule 2.00 (Catch) Comment: A catch is legal if the ball is finally held by any fielder, even though juggled, or held by another fielder before it touches the ground. Runners may leave their bases the instant the first fielder touches the ball. A fielder may reach over a fence, railing, rope or other line of demarcation to make a catch. He may jump on top of a railing, or canvas that may be in foul ground. No interference should be allowed when a fielder reaches over a fence, railing, rope or into a stand to catch a ball. He does so at his own risk.
If a fielder, attempting a catch at the edge of the dugout, is “held up” and kept from an apparent fall by a player or players of either team and the catch is made, it shall be allowed.
RULING - The correct call was made because the force of the sliding runner caused the ball to come up and completely out of the web. Control was not established until after the runner had slid into third base when the third baseman grasped the ball in his throwing hand. The release of the ball from the mitt was NOT voluntary. The third baseman did not prove that he had complete control of the ball until after the runner was safe.
COACH COMPLAINT - The defensive coach stated that this was the worst call he had ever witnessed. He repeated the question, “Is a snowcone catch in the outfield an out?” His logic appeared to be that the ball never hit the ground and that it was sitting on top of the glove and never out of the player’s control so the runner should be out. I believe that the coach thought that the ball was still secured by the web, instead of resting upon the glove.
WHAT IS A SNOWCONE CATCH? - A snowcone catch occurs when a player catches a ball and you see the tip of it out of the glove, just like the ice in a snowcone. In a snowcone catch the fielder still has complete control as the mitt is securing the ball. This is NOT what was witnessed in the sliding tag at third base.
CONTINUED COMPLAINING - It is one thing to have a coach voice his displeasure during the heat of the moment, but completely inappropriate for a coach to continue his complaining for the remainder of the game. Once the next pitch is made, then the time for discussion is over. As a coach, it is important to remember that,...
“9.02(a) Any umpire’s decision which involves judgment, such as, but not limited to, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a pitch is a strike or a ball, or whether a runner is safe or out is final. No player, manager, coach or substitute shall object to any such judgment decisions.”