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In baseball, a foul tip is a batted ball that goes sharp directly from the bat to the catcher’s hands and is legally caught. It is not a foul tip unless caught and any foul tip that is caught is a strike, and the ball is in play. It is not a catch if it is a rebound, unless the ball has first touched the catcher’s glove or hand.

This definition distinguishes a foul tip from an ordinary foul ball. Many fans and sportscasters mistakenly use the term "foul tip" to describe any pitch at which the batter swings and makes slight contact, regardless of whether it is caught by the catcher. But as defined within the rules, it is not a foul tip if it first touches anything other than the catcher's hand or glove, or if it is not legally caught and held by the catcher. In such cases the pitch is a foul ball and not a foul tip. If the pitch touches the ground before reaching the batter, and the batter then swings and nicks that ball with his bat, it would be a foul tip if hit directly to the catcher's hands and legally caught.

The rules treat a foul tip as equivalent in every respect to a pitch at which the batter swings and misses. It thus differs from a foul ball in the following ways:

  • It is always a strike, regardless of the existing ball-and-strike count on the batter. If the batter already has two strikes, the foul tip is the third strike and the batter is out by strikeout (unlike a foul ball, which ordinarily cannot count as the third strike). Since, by definition, the catcher has held the third strike, the batter is unconditionally out and cannot attempt to reach first base, regardless of circumstances.
  • Unless the foul tip is the third strike, the batter is not out as he would be if his ordinary foul ball were caught (by the catcher or any other fielder). The foul tip merely adds a strike to the batter's count.
  • The ball remains alive and runners may advance or be thrown out on the bases, just as on any other strike that is not a foul ball.


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