July 13, 2020

When the Umpire Messes up an Infield Fly

He should not have called it but he did anyway. Now what?

When the Umpire Messes up an Infield Fly

Umpires are human so sometimes they make calls that make no sense, like calling an Infield Fly with no runner at 2B. It happens quite a bit at the amateur level and often causes chaos because no one knows what to do. Bring some sensibility and calmness to you next rules discussion by learning this rule.

The interpretation about these plays comes from From Jaska/Roder “The Rules of Professional Baseball.”

Scenario 1

Umpire mistakenly calls Infield Fly. Now what?

    • If the conditions for an infield fly are not met, (runners not on 1B and 2B or bases loaded less than two outs) or it is a bunt, then the batter is not out. 

If an infield fly is improperly declared due to the lack of conditions in 3(a) above or because the batted ball was a bunt (aspects of the rule not requiring umpire judgment), the batter is not out. Both teams are required to know that the fly was not an infield fly, even though it was declared as such. The declared infield fly is nullified due to the impossibility of its existence, and the play stands.  

Scenario 2

Umpire Fails to Call Infield Fly (but should have)

  • A fly ball that meets all the requirements for an infield fly, but is not declared as such, is not an infield fly. Resulting action is allowed; however, the umpires should not allow a double play that the infield fly rule was intended to prevent.

Coaching Advice: Expect a pop-up bunt

  • Base runners who are expecting a bunt should be reminded that a bunt is not an Infield Fly so if it drops, they must run. Aggressive defense can get your team some timely outs (double plays) when your fielders are taught the nuances of when to allow a pop-up bunt fall to the ground without being touched. 

Fun Infield Fly Video


Dave Johnson

Under NFHS rules, an undeclared infield fly is still an infield fly, and the batter is still out. This is not to be confused with the umpire not declaring the infield fly because he’s decided it’s not one (i.e. not ordinary effort).
Also under NFHS rule 10-2: “The Umpire In Chief [shall]… (10-2-3l) rectify any situation in which an umpire’s decision that was reversed has placed either team at a disadvantage.”
i.e. if the umpire f’s up an infield fly call, he needs to do his best to fix it, and take whatever crap he has to (up to a point). better not to f up in the first place.

Dave Johnson

I work mostly 2-man or better, so usually my partner(s) and I keep each other from making that mistake. However I do work solo sometimes, and I do recall making that mistake at least once (anyone who says they’ve never done so is most likely lying). I believe it had been R1 & R2, but R2 advanced on a wild pitch. I certainly knew R2 had advanced, but somehow didn’t erase the IFF from my brain; I actually give myself subtle signals when working solo, but it’s not quite as effective as exchanging signals with a partner. Then there was a infield popup, and as F6 settled under it I called “Infield Fly, batter is out!”. I realized my error as F6 caught the ball. Loudly enough for the coaches to hear me, I said “well obviously that wasn’t actually an infield fly, and…” (motioning to F6) “thanks for bailing me out by catching it!”. Mild chuckles, everyone moved on.

Eddie Saah

You don’t make those mistakes if you concentrate on every pitch,
and communicate with your partner even if you have to go over the same mechanics
inning after inning. Some umpires don’t give signs….lazy
Give 100% on every pitch……and don’t carry on a conversation and joke around
with the 1st base coach…….keep your concentration!

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