Revisiting the Origin of the Infield Fly Rule

By Richard Hershberger

This article was published in the Fall 2018 Baseball Research Journal.

The baserunner’s dilemma and the fielder’s perverse incentive provide a satisfying explanation for why the infield fly rule exists. This logic is coherent and plausible. Only recently has closer examination of the antecedents to the rule shown that the actual reason for it is the problem of distinguishing what is and is not a catch. This is an extraordinary claim. Here is a historical account of how and why the infield fly rule was developed. What is a catch? A player . . .

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