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Discussion: Outfielder runs thru centerfield fence gap and catches home run ball; home run or out?

Posted Discussion
July 21, 2020
jgoff5113
Men's 60
47 posts
Outfielder runs thru centerfield fence gap and catches home run ball; home run or out?
Ok Rules Brain Trust Guys, here's another just-for-fun, hypothetical question: I just finished playing outfield at an SSUSA tournament where the fields were only 280-ft. and the outfield fence was only 5-ft. high. More to the point though, the outfield fences featured that small overlapping gap in the fence in center field, in order to make it easier to retrieve home run balls. Now imagine there's a lefty at bat who is known for his power and is also all-pull. I'm playing left-center and we put the shift on him, which means I'm positioned almost in dead-center field, and close to the fence since it's only 280-ft. The batter hits a towering fly ball that is tracking to land a few feet beyond the fence and just a little to the right of dead-center. If I run through the fence gap in centerfield and catch the ball beyond the fence, is it still a home run, or should the batter be called out?
July 21, 2020
lb16
Men's 50
163 posts
Play should be ruled a Hr. If you would have made contact with ball before entering the gap area then it would be an out.
July 21, 2020
DaveDowell
Men's 65
3338 posts
Daily Stump the Ump Quiz for Tuesday lb16 has it nailed ... No reason for further comment from me! ...
July 21, 2020
jgoff5113
Men's 60
47 posts
Thanks lb16 and Dave. You have relieved me of any temptation to risk my physical safety by attempting to run through that little gap, should I ever face the situation I described. On a related note, at the Sturgis, MI tournament last month, a wide gate (I'd estimate at least 12-feet wide) in the outfield fence was left open while a game was being played (I was coming in from the parking lot and closed it). The ump should have noticed the open gate and ordered play stopped until it was closed, but in effect, a section of the outfield fence was missing during play. This was a much higher fence, and had a fly ball landed just beyond where the fence should have been, a bru-ha-ha might have resulted on the question of whether it should be a home run or (I assume) a ground rule double. Had a batted ball bounced through the open gate, I assume the correct ruling would be a double. But still egg on the ump's face for not noticing the open gate. And had the left fielder run through the open gate and caught a fly ball, home run would be the correct call (but maybe the same bru-ha-ha, with the team in the field arguing that it would have hit the fence and not cleared it).
July 21, 2020
Wayne 37
Men's 65
773 posts
Jgoff5113,

Your situation would be what it be called catch and carry. That means you caught the ball within the playing grounds, but carried the ball into dead ball territory.
All runners advance one base after legally tagging of course. Subject to appeal.

This was actually a play years back in a MiLB years back, and that was the rule the way they enforced it. CF ran right through the wooden fence though.

Maybe one of these days I'll tell the sto of why a I have a light standard named for me
July 21, 2020
jgoff5113
Men's 60
47 posts
Thanks Wayne 37. Actually in the situation I was describing, the fielder runs through the open gate and then catches the fly ball, but your scenario is very good to know about as well. Often I've seen side gates (i.e. down the foul lines) mistakenly left open as well. And you're saying that if a defender catches a popup or fly ball in the field of play, but then is unable to stop, with his momentum carrying him through the open gate, the batter is out, but any other baserunners should be awarded an advance of one base. I've also played on fields where there isn't a side fence all the way along the field, and instead, a second line is painted on the grass to divide in-play foul territory from out-of-play territory. On that sort of field, you're saying that should a defender catch a ball on the in-play side of the line but then run over the line, again the batter would be out but any other baserunners should be awarded an advance of one base (after tagging up, as you wrote).
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