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Okay, I was asked this question and don't have the answer. If a pitch is in the dirt in MLB, quite often the umpire will take it out of play. Then how come when a hard grounder is hit into the dirt it remains in play? Beats the heck out of me...does anyone know why?

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The umpire doesn't take it out of play. The catcher or pitcher requests a new baseball. Actually, if you watch it closely, after a ground ball that picks up a lot of dirt, the pitcher will throw it back to the catcher for a new ball...
I catch in the local men's adult league.  I actually asked the umpire this question the other night.  He said that you are supposed to replace the ball everytime it's a pitch in the dirt or foul ball or anything like that.  Depending on the umpire or league this is not always followed.  That's why they replace them in those situations.

The key word in your question is the word "PITCH".   In the professional game, sometimes an

umpire will take a ball out of play - right after the pitch hits the dirt, so the ball has no IMMEDIATE

chance of having a foreign substance on, that is ... dirt. In addition, watch the plate umpire inspect the ball.

He's looking for any substance that might have been put on the ball by the pitcher because of the

ball's sudden drop, bite or other movement prior to diving in the dirt. Also, if a ball is "fouled" in the dirt

right in front of home plate - again, he'll inspect the ball.

If the ball is not fit for play - out it goes, usually a practice ball for the home club.  BUT, if the only

thing that's on the ball is a tiny bit of soil after bouncing off the dirt, watch closely if the plate umpire

simply rubs his hands around the ball, then tucks it away in his ball bag. 

I've had pitchers that would deliberately toss a ball back, wanting that one ball that dove in the dirt

just a bit. When they got it, they knew it. Their pitch selection seemed to hone in on small part of

their inventory - mostly breaking and off-speed stuff.  And a smart bench coach would pick up on that

real early.


Darn good question - I honestly can't remember anyone asking that one before?


Coach B.

Well, This is what I was told. Can't remeber by who though for the life of me. When a pitch is thrown by a pitcher it has a certain spin to it. 4 seam, 2 seam, curve, whatever. When the ball hits the dirt with that certain spin it can leave marks or scuffs in the ball that may effect the way the ball reacts the next time it is thrown by the pitcher. Now when the ball is hit into play and hits the ground it has a different spin or reaction off the bat so that is why it stays in play. Make sense to me I guess. It is probably some deep clandestine plot by Rawlings to make money. :) lol.
It's no wonder since they are required to have 90 shiny new baseballs at the start of each game. The statistics say most
home teams use around 50-60 per game. Those rejected by ump go into the BP bucket where MLB team uses them for BP for about a week then some are sent off to the minor leaque affiliates BP.
Just want to say thanks for all the very good replies. And I'll watch closely from now on...always something to explore IF you truly want to learn more. THX!!!


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