Infield Fly Rule Explained

Sometimes in sports, the sportsmen seem to exude and behave in a manner which is totally opposite to the sportsman spirit. They get in a verbal brawl or become very aggressive and in general are high on emotions and indulge in foul play as a result. That is when the match or game officials need to take charge and tell the players involved that “look man, this is where we call the shots and you better calm down!” Of course there are rules to help the match officials to keep a check on the behavior of the players. For instance, the infield fly rule in baseball. If you did not know about it, pitching in with infield fly rule, explained in the text below.

What is the Infield Fly Rule

According to Major League Baseball, (MLB) rule 6.05, the objective of this rule is to prevent unfair sportsmanship by the fielders that would lead to an easy double play or triple play. The rule is applied only and only when there are less than 2 outs and at the third or homeplate there is a force play. In addition to this, there is a popfly to anywhere in the infield in the fair territory. Although, this has to be approved by the umpire. If the umpire approves, then it does not matter if the ball is actually caught in the flight. According to the rule, the umpire has to announce “Infield fly, if fair. In condition when the ball is fair, the umpire will announce “Infield fly”, “batter’s out” or only “Batter’s Out”. Quintessentially, umpires also raise one arm up in the air straight for indicating that the rule is in effect. This infield fly rule covers any ball that may have been caught by an infielder with ordinary effort irrespective of where it is caught.

To make the whole endeavor of infield fly rule, explained better, lets take a look at rules related to infield fly.

  1. The batter is declared out and the runners cannot advance
  2. Runners must tag up before advancing. If that is not done, a put out on an appeal play by the opponents can result.
  3. The ball is not required to be caught by an infielder and the player catching the infield fly, gets a credit in the form of a putout.
  4. There is no need to tag up, in case the infield fly is dropped by the player.
  5. There is no penalty or error on a player for dropping a ball when this rule is in effect.
  6. The field players can run the after the catch even if it is dropped by a fielder.
  7. There are no bunts, no line drives and the rules are only applicable in the infield.

That was the infield fly rule, explained in full glory! Now lets go back in time and see why and how this rule was formed and how a couple of baseball positions are connected with it.

The How and Why of Infield Fly Rule

First we will deal with the how of the rule, which will again better explain the infield fly rule. In National League this rule was introduced in the year 1985 to prevent fielders from purposefully dropping pop flies to get multiple outs. This was done by forcing out the runners on the base, pinned near their bases while the ball was mid air. Are getting the drift here? In short if there is no infield fly rule, this is what will happen. The runners are on first and second base with less than 2 outs. Pop fly is hit to the fielder at the third base. He intentionally drops the ball and then picks it up. Then, he touches the third base, followed by a throw to second base for a double play. It’s a convenient double play as both runners are tagging up on their bases, in anticipation of the ball being caught.

This is actually one of those baseball rules which is oft sidelined and is a subject of confusion among baseball players.