Fair or Foul - changing your call

from the desk of Larry Gallagher....

If you call it fair and know for sure you are wrong, it is easier to change it to a foul ball.  You should definitely do this if you know you are wrong.
Changing a foul ball to a fair ball is much tougher and should never be done in high school baseball by rule. 
Below are some rules to concern yourself with of changing Foul to Fair:
Federation Rules - A batted ball is foul and dead whenever an umpire "inadvertently announces 'Foul' on a ball that touches the ground," whether in fair or foul territory.  That call cannot be changed. (2-16-1e; 5-1;1h; 5.1.1a, b, and c)
Play:  Fed only.  R1 slaps a high drive that clears the fence down the line in left.  The umpire calls "Foul!"  After consulting with his partner, he changes the call to "Fair."

Ruling:  The ball became dead when it cleared the fence, not when the umpire called "Foul."  The call may be changed.
Play:  Fed only.  The umpire declares "Foul!" on a pop-up that the 3rd baseman misplays.  The ball becomes fair and F5 drops it.

Ruling:  The ball is foul.  If F5 had caught the ball in fair territory, B1 would have been out since the ball did not touch the ground.
NCAA Rules:  The point is not covered but there are some interpretations that affect it in NCAA.

Thurston - former rules editor states in 11/19/90 "The umpires may reverse a call of foul to fair if he does so immediately and if no player reacted to the original call.
Also on that same date in 1990, Thurston said, "A call of "foul" to "fair" may also be changed if the call had no impact on the "obvious" outcome of a safe hit.
Play:  NCAA only.  B1 yanks a line drive down the left-field line that bounces just fair.  The umpire, confused, calls "Foul."  B1 stops momentarily to object, then proceeds to first as F7 recovers the ball in deep left field.  Next, the offensive coach contends the ball was, in fact, fair.    

Ruling:  If the umpire agrees with the coach that the ball was fair, he may change his call because the 'obvious' outcome of the hit would have been a "double."  B1 is awarded second.  And perhaps the assistant defensive coach gets an early shower.  If the umpire does not (or will not) agree, the ball remains foul and B1 returns to bat.  And now perhaps the assistant offensive coach gets an early shower.
OBR Rules:  The point is not covered but there are some interpretatins that affect it in OBR.
Mike Fitzpatrick former PBUC executive director stated in 11/15/2000, "The umpire may reverse his call if everyone ignored the initial signal."  Fitzpatrick:  "In certain instances, e.g. home run balls at the foul pole, a crew consultation may be necessary to determine the correct decision.  This was in an e-mail to Carl Childress - author of the 2009 Baseball Rules Difference book that I am quoting.
Play:  R1, R2.  B1's line drive skips off third, bounds to the wooden fence and rattles around in foul territory with the third baseman and left fielder giving chase.  The umpire calls "Foul" and then immediatley reverses himself.  In spite of the first call, the runners and fielders keep moving.

Ruling:  In Federation, the ball is "Foul" and dead.  In NCAA and OBR, play continues without reference to the erroneous call.
Play:  Without dropping his batt Bubba hunkers down to avoid an inside pitch; the ball nicks off the knob end and rolls into foul territory.  The UIC erroneously calls "Foul ball!" and then quickly yells, "Play it!  Fair ball!"  On the first call Bubba stops and starts to return; on the second call, F2 picks up the ball and throws to first for the out.

Ruling:  In Federation, the plays is over when the umpire yells "Foul!"  In NCAA and OBR, because the umpire rushed to judgment (and players reacted), the ruling is the same.  Bubba remains at bat, charged with a strike.
You must also understand, though, that reversing a call from "fair" to "foul" causes no rules problem.  You'll face an argument, but the changed call will not affect the outcome of the play.  That is true whether fielders or runners reacted to aninitial "point" toward fair territory.  If the ball is subsequently ruled foul, simply order the batter back to the box - and any runner back to bases occupied at the TOP.  (Of course, you might also need to order the coach back into the third-base coaching box).

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