Is It A Catch If The Ball Hits The Wall In Baseball?
In baseball, if the ball hits the wall before being caught, then it is not a catch and a live ball if the play occurs in fair territory. For example, during a game during the 2022 season between the New York Mets and Miami Marlins, a ball hit the outfield wall while simultaneously being trapped in the glove of the Mets outfielder. On the field, the ball was ruled as a catch, but after a replay review, the call was overturned, and it was determined that the ball was not caught. Therefore, it was a hit for the Marlins.
Fundamentally, a catch in baseball occurs when a fielder has full control of the ball and voluntarily releases said ball. The ball must be caught in the glove or with a bare hand and not with any other equipment such as a hat or any other part of the uniform. As part of these rules, a player can not have any assistance from the ground or wall in order to make a catch. As soon as a ball hits anything that is not a player’s glove or body, it is immediately a live ball if the ball lands in fair territory or a dead ball if the ball lands in foul territory. One notable nuance with this rule is that if a fielder touches a live ball in the air and then deflects said ball to another fielder who secures the ball, this is a legal catch. Another exception to the catch rule is in the case of the infield fly rule. If an umpire calls an infield fly, then the batter is out regardless of whether or not the ball is caught cleanly by the fielding team.
Trapping the Ball
In the case mentioned earlier, it is not a catch if the ball hits the wall while simultaneously being trapped by the outfielder because the ball is immediately live once the ball hits the wall. While the ball can not hit the wall and still be a catch, the fielder can use the wall as an aid to catch the ball as long as he does not exit the field of play and enter dead ball territory. If a fielder reaches over or falls over a wall or railing to make a catch or jumps on or climbs onto the wall, then it is still a legal catch. This is seen quite often as players will climb the outfield wall in order to catch a ball that would otherwise be a home run or long extra-base hit. With the use of extensive netting in foul territory over the past few seasons, it is important to note that protective netting essentially acts as an extension of the wall. Therefore, if a player traps a ball with his glove against protective netting, it is a foul ball. This rule has caused situations where balls that would have otherwise been caught hit the protective netting before the fielder has an opportunity to make a clean catch, and therefore caused a dead ball.