FW: Can't Steal First Base (1941)

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Fri Sep 6 10:56:53 UTC 2002

What follows is baseball arcana.  If you are not into baseball, baseball
terms, and the like, please hit delete NOW.

Brad Vest posted:

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of Brad Vest
Sent: Thursday, September 05, 2002 3:58 PM
Subject: Re: Can't Steal First Base (1941)

There is, I believe, another time in which a stolen base cannot be awarded
and that is catcher's indifference.  For instance, if there is a runner on
first and he goes to steal second and the catcher gets the ball and would
have a chance of throwing him out but chooses not to make the throw, the
runner I believe is not credited with a stolen base but instead is
to have "advanced on catcher's indifference".
One other thing that I noticed in the original thread, even in little
the dropped third strike rule applies.  A player may still attempt to run to
first if a catcher drops the pitch even if the bases are only 60'.  He may
only do so if first base is unoccupied or there are two outs, which
identically mirrors the Major League rule.

Larry H and Dave W have already posted on this and pretty much settled the
issues of "catcher's indifference" and "fielder's choice" and their
application in official scoring and in public parlance.  I simply add that
"catcher's indifference" also is used when, late in a game that where the
score is not close, the team in the field (which is way ahead) does not
bother to throw to second on a steal attempt because it is not likely to
affect the outcome.  Thus, the runner is not credited with a "cheap" stolen

However, as to the "dropped third strike", it is NOT true that, in Little
League (where the bases are 60 feet apart), a batter may attempt to advance
to first on a dropped third strike.  Under LL rules, the batter is OUT on a
dropped third strike.

Now it is true that in Little League (I use caps because I am referring
specifically to their rule book) a runner (someone already on base) can
advance on a dropped third strike, but only if there are less than 2 outs.
If there are 2 outs when the dropped third strike occurs, under LL rules the
inning is over, and so the runner cannot advance.

I hasten (hesitate?) to add that the "dropped third strike" only applies in
the case of a third strike that is either called (by the umpire) or that is
the result of a swing and a miss by the batter.  If the batter, with 2
strikes on him, foul tips the pitch (that is, just barely gets a piece of it
with the bat, and the ball then goes directly to the catcher's mitt), this
is not a "dropped third strike" situation.  In the case of a foul tip, the
batter is NOT OUT unless the catcher catches and holds the foul tip.  If the
foul tip is dropped by the catcher, then it is simply a foul ball, the ball
is dead, and it is not a third strike.

If the catcher holds onto a foul tip, it is a third strike, and the batter
is out.  This is true at all levels, including LL.

Oh yeah, one other thing.  A foul tip that is caught by the catcher is still
a LIVE ball -- runners can advance in this situation, but are at risk of
being put out.  So if a runner is attempting to steal and a foul tip occurs,
the catcher can and should attempt to throw that runner out.  This is the
only time when a ball that has been hit foul is still a live ball.

Frank Abate
(member in good standing, Greater New Haven Baseball Umpires Association)

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