The Comment to Official Baseball Rule 5.09(a)(1) [former OBR 6.05(a) Comment] stipulates that no fielder may step into or go into a dugout to make a catch. However, if a fielder, after making a legal catch on the playing surface, steps or falls into any out-of-play area at any point while in possession of the ball, the base runners shall be entitled to advance one base and the ball shall be dead. In order to make a legal catch, the fielder must have one or both feet on or over the playing surface (including the lip of the dugout) and neither foot on the ground inside the dugout or other out-of-play surface. A fielder is considered to be in the dugout—and thereby unable to make a valid catch—when the fielder has one or both feet on the surface inside the dugout (for example, on the steps or on the floor of the dugout) or has dived into the dugout with neither foot on or above the playing surface. The lip of a dugout (i.e., the top of the dugout steps that is even with the playing surface, even if it is a dif-ferent material than the playing surface) is considered outside the dugout for pur-poses of this rule. As an example, a player who catches a pop-up with one foot on the lip and the other foot on a step inside the dugout would be deemed to be inside the dugout, and no catch would be allowed. On the other hand, a player who catches a pop-up with one foot on the lip and the other foot in the air over a step or over the dugout floor would not be deemed to be inside the dugout, because in that example one foot is on the playing surface and neither foot is on the ground inside the dugout. NOTE: A ball striking equipment on the lip of the dugout is dead. Clubs should make best efforts to keep all equipment off the top step (lip) of the dugout. See Universal Ground Rules.
EXAMPLES: (1) Catcher catches a foul pop-up on the field of play, and momentum carries him into the dugout. Ruling: Legal catch. “Time” is called and all runners awarded one base from the time of the pitch. (2) Catcher catches a foul pop-up on the field of play, and momentum carries him into the dugout. While in the dugout the catcher falls down, then drops the ball.
Ruling: Foul ball.
(3) Catcher makes a diving catch and slides into the dugout after catching the ball. The catcher ends up on the floor of the dugout, face-down, with posses-sion of the ball. Ruling: Legal catch. “Time” is called and all runners awarded one base from the time of the pitch. (4) Bases loaded, one out. Fielder catches ball and momentum carries him into the stands. May the fielder throw for a play?
Ruling: No. “Time” is called, and all runners advance one base.