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Official Rules: Foreword
This code of rules governs the playing of baseball games by professional teams of Major League Baseball and the leagues that are members of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues.

We recognize that many amateur and non-professional organizations play their games under professional rules and we are happy to make our rules available as widely as possible. It is well to remember that specifications as to fields, equipment, etc., may be modified to meet the needs of each group.

In baseball, an uncaught third strike (sometimes inaccurately referred to as a dropped third strike) occurs when the catcher fails to cleanly catch a pitch for the third strike. A pitch is considered uncaught if the ball touches the ground before being caught, or if the ball is dropped after being grasped (see also catch). The specific rules concerning the uncaught third strike are addressed in Rules 6.05 and 6.09 of the Official Baseball Rules,[1] under which Major League Baseball is played.

On an uncaught third strike with no runner on first base (or with two outs, regardless of whether there is a runner on first), the batter immediately becomes a runner. The strike is called, but the umpire does not call the batter out. The umpire may also actively signal that there is "no catch" of the pitch. The batter may then attempt to reach first base, and must be tagged or thrown out.

One intent of this rule is to ensure that a defensive player fields the ball cleanly in order for that team to record an out. It was thought that it is not enough that the offensive player is unsuccessful in order for an out to be made; a defensive player must be successful as well.

Regardless of the outcome of an uncaught third strike, the pitcher is statistically credited with a strikeout. Because of the uncaught third strike rule, it is possible for a pitcher to register more than three strikeouts in an inning, a feat which has been accomplished in Major League Baseball 53 times since 1901.[2] At one point in history, nearly forty years passed before this feat was repeated (1916-1956).

Note that if, at the time of the strike three pitch, first base is occupied with fewer than two outs, the batter is automatically out and cannot become a runner. This is to prevent the defense from deliberately dropping a third strike pitch and getting a double or triple play as a result, because of the possible force play at second or third base in this situation.

Rule 6.09(b) Comment: A batter who does not realize his situation on a third strike not caught, and who is not in the process of running to first base, shall be declared out once he leaves the dirt circle surrounding home plate."[4]

Contact  Northwest Independent Baseball League Duane Wangenheim 866.858.1174

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