Foul balls are a part of baseball and that always will be the case. It’s stating the obvious, but there are more foul balls in some games than others.
In contests with many foul balls, that 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. Fans aren’t permitted to keep the foul balls like in pro and college games.
Depending on the location of those amateur fields, that task 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 the retrievers.
If a foul ball lands in a nearby fenced backyard, which is the case at some fields, hopefully there is an agreement with that homeowner where the baseballs will be returned at some point.
But that’s not always the case. Remember the movie “Sandlot.”
Who are the foul-ball retrievers? Pretty much everyone, from players, to spectators and young kids, who, for a while, find big fun in chasing a foul ball, especially if the reward is a treat from a concessions stand.
If there are multiple foul balls in a row off a hitter’s bat, the home plate umpire will quickly run out of game balls. Play can’t resume until the umpire is restocked, which can sometimes take a few seconds, again slowing play, if there are no available game balls and new ones have to be prepared.
Then in some games, there are very few foul balls. So there are no delay or retrieving issues.
– Dave Facinoli