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ArlingtonCommentary: Foul balls can be annoying

Commentary: Foul balls can be annoying

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Foul balls are a part of baseball, and that always will be the case. It’s stating the obvious, but there can be many more foul balls in some games than others.

  Contests with multiple foul balls can be an annoyance, because play can significantly be slowed. In many levels of amateur baseball, foul balls have to be retrieved and returned to play for continued use. (Fans aren’t permitted to keep the foul balls like in professional and college baseball.)

Depending on the location of those amateur fields, that task of retrieving can be a challenge if homes, streets, buildings, woods, and parking lots are close by, as often is the case. When a foul ball ends up in any of those places, it’s 50-50 if they are found or gotten to by those looking for the balls.

If a foul ball lands in a nearby fenced backyard, which is the case at some high-school fields, hopefully there is an agreement with that home-
owner where the baseballs will be gathered in a timely manner and returned at some point.

But that’s not always the case. Remember the movie “Sandlot?”

Who are those foul-ball retrievers? Pretty much everyone. They are players, coaches, spectators and even young kids who, for a while at least find big fun in chasing fouls, especially when the reward is some kind of treat from a concessions stand. That’s often offered during Little League games.

If there are multiple foul balls in a row off by the same hitter, the home- plate umpire can quickly run out of game balls. They usually start with a handful in their bag. Play can’t resume until the umpire is restocked. That can sometimes take a bit, again slowing play, when there are no available game balls, as they are still in the process of being retrieved, and if new ones have to be prepared.

The best games are those with few foul balls, keeping the annoying delays to a minimum.

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