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Do I have a good one - fielders balk?

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by CoachTee » Mon May 02, 2016 9:56 pm

I wasn't responsible for this one...  but in a game tonight, one of the umpires called a fielders balk.  

Generally speaking, here'e the basics of the situation...  The ball is put in play with everyone on the field in the positions.     1B steps to hold R1 on base  and places one foot fair in front the bag and one foot foul, outside the bag (not touching the base at all).  The pitch is thrown and the base umpire immediately calls "feilder balk" and awards the R1  second base.

i won't bother to tell you the age group, it's irrelevant....  what's the right call?  when would you make this call and whats the proper way to enforce it.     

Usually you see this pre-pitch, and you don't put the ball in play until everyone is on the field of play (with exception to the catcher)..   At  least that's what I believe you should do....   

I have never called this post-pitch,  so  whats the right call and  how do you enforce it? 
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by JimThompson » Tue May 03, 2016 6:49 am

I have umpired many, many years. I have played a few years. I have seen many other games. I have never seen this called. As long as F3 has one foot in fair territory he is considered in fair territory. The rule does indicate that before the ball is put in play all fielders (except the catcher) shall be in fair territory. As an umpire if F3 or any other player is entirely in foul territory, merely tell him to get in fair territory. I would ignore this unless someone complained. This is nit-picking at the highest degree. Don't look for trouble!
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by JCbaseball » Sat May 14, 2016 3:16 pm

At Coach Tee

I am wondering why you mentioned "not touching" first base at all, because all pick-offs are "tag outs", no?
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by VTHokieUmp » Sat May 14, 2016 5:37 pm

There is no such thing as a "fielder's balk" under the OBR. While the OBR states that all players other than the catcher must have both feet must be in fair territory, a balk can never be called on any player other than F1 or F2.

OBR rule 4.03 states: When the ball is put in play at the start of, or during a game, all fielders other than the catcher shall be on fair territory... There is no associated penalty for violating that portion of the rule. 4.03(a) deals with the catcher's position during an intentional base on balls. The balk penalty deals with 4.03(a) only and does not pertain to 4.03.

As for F3 (or F5) standing in foul territory, it's simply a "don't do that" under OBR. Most umpires will either ignore it or quietly tell the defender to get both feet in fair territory. The official guidance as published by the Professional Baseball Umpire Corps (PBUC - MiLB baseball) is to ignore the violation unless the opposing coach says something or the violation is too obvious to ignore. Then you enforce the rule both ways. The "penalty" is to eject the offender if the ignores the umpires direction to have both feet in fair territory - and if any part of the foot is touching the foul line, the foot is considered to be in fair territory. But, under OBR, you can never call a balk against F3 or F5.

Under FED it is an illegal pitch if both feet are entirely in foul territory at the time of the pitch per rule 1-1-3 (a balk with runners on base). In all honesty, I have more important things to do at the time of the pitch than look at the foot position of F3 or F5. And the next time I see that one called will be the first time.
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by VTHokieUmp » Mon May 16, 2016 6:34 pm

JC said I am wondering why you mentioned "not touching" first base at all, because all pick-offs are "tag outs", no?

It's probably because if F3 had been touching the bag, his foot would technically be in fair territory because the bag (like the foul line) is in fair territory. Not that it really matters since the so-called fielder's balk exists only under FED and only if both feet are in foul territory at the time of pitch.
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