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Guest sorry dad

Determining possession of ball by a fielder in a force out situation

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Guest sorry dad

This situation occurred 30 years ago in a little league game I played in, and I'm still not sure what the correct call was.

Ground ball to second base.  The ball is fielded but the throw to first is dropped by the first baseman, who goes to his knees still touching the bag.  The first baseman reaches for the ball with his bare hand and grabs the top of the ball a full step ahead of the runner, but never lifts the ball off the ground.  Subjectively, the first baseman seemed to have it controlled in his grasp, but never lifted or moved the ball in any way, instead just covering it still pressed to the ground and turning to the ump looking for the call.  How is possession determined in this situation?  Does the ball need to be lifted?  

In this situation the runner was called safe, the call was vigorously protested, and my father was effectively banned for life as a LL umpire.  

 

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10 minutes ago, Guest sorry dad said:

This situation occurred 30 years ago in a little league game I played in, and I'm still not sure what the correct call was.

Ground ball to second base.  The ball is fielded but the throw to first is dropped by the first baseman, who goes to his knees still touching the bag.  The first baseman reaches for the ball with his bare hand and grabs the top of the ball a full step ahead of the runner, but never lifts the ball off the ground.  Subjectively, the first baseman seemed to have it controlled in his grasp, but never lifted or moved the ball in any way, instead just covering it still pressed to the ground and turning to the ump looking for the call.  How is possession determined in this situation?  Does the ball need to be lifted?  

In this situation the runner was called safe, the call was vigorously protested, and my father was effectively banned for life as a LL umpire.  

 

It's judgement as to whether or not F3 had secure possession of the ball.  The ball touching the ground doesn't disqualify secure possession, and if F3's hand was gripping the ball rather than simply on top of it, then I would have called the out.  Being banned for life based on this call?  Rough crowd.

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30 years later and that kid is still holding that ball down while touching first base?

The ball had to come up at some point.  Did the kid lift it with that hand (possession)?  Or did the kid continue to fumble for a grip on the ball before bringing it up (no possession)?

Like grayhawk said, touching the ground does not mean there is not possession (like the NFL).  Nor does trapping it against the ground mean there is possession.  You would need to see something more either way: grip, movement, etc.

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15 hours ago, Guest sorry dad said:

This situation occurred 30 years ago in a little league game I played in,

I expected some story ending with "... and I never got my ice cream."  Nothing else really matters.

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2019 Little League rule 2.00 Definition of Terms

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

The call in your play would be based on the umpire's judgment as to whether or not the defensive player had control over the baseball.

On catches of line drives, the fielder’s glove needs to be underneath the baseball to keep it from being ruled a trap. But for a ball lying on the ground, it would come down to, did the fielder have a solid grip on and around the ball. The ball could be on the ground as long as the umpire felt the fielder was in control--not just in contact with the ball.

The definition doesn't specifically state the ball must be off the ground; so the umpire must decide if the fielder's hand on top of the ball meets the requirement of holding the ball securely.

High school softball actually has a case play that deals with the question posed in the OP and high school baseball comes close in its definition of catch--

2019 NFHS Softball Case Book Play 2.9.5 Situation C:  F3 secures a thrown ball while it is in contact with the ground and her hand is on top of the ball. F3 turns her hand over so the ball is facing upward (a) before; or (b) after the batter-runner touches first base. RULING:  In both (a) and (b) the batter-runner is out. F3 demonstrated control of the thrown ball by turning it upward. COMMENT:  Umpires must determine if the fielder had control of the ball before the runner touched the base. This is a similar situation to the umpire asking to “see the ball” after a tag has been made. (2-9-5f)

2018 NFHS rule 2-9-1 NOTE: When a batted ball or a pitch is involved, the above definition of a catch applies. For any other thrown ball, the term is used loosely to also apply to a pick-up or to the trapping of a low throw which has touched the ground. A fielder may have the ball in his grasp even though it is touching the ground while in his glove.

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Banned for life as an umpire for a judgement call which easily could have been the correct call!

The manager must have been the League President!  :)

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