What is the Dropped Third Strike Rule in Baseball and Softball? 

Baseball and softball come up with pages and pages of rules and regulations during games. There are several rules in baseball and softball that many fans don’t know, one of them is Third Strike Rule in baseball. This rule seems to be a little difficult for new baseball fans to understand.

In simple terms, the Third Strike Rule in baseball is applied whenever a hitter hits a strike out and the infielder from the defensive team is somehow unable to catch the ball. The hitter gets the privilege to save himself and run towards the first base as a baserunner. In this way, he is not considered out. It is interesting to know that not every strikeout can have a third strikeout rule.

Why is There a Dropped Third Strike Rule in Baseball and Softball?

Baseball fans would wonder why is there a need for this particular rule in baseball when it can be counted as an out for the hitter. So, why is there a dropped third-strike rule in baseball and softball? There are some reasons for it.

  • Firstly, the third strike rule is made to decrease the amount of unfair double and triple plays in baseball.  
  • It is used to confirm whether it is a ground ball or not. When any defensive players out of the five-catch the ball before it makes contact with the ground the hitter is considered out. Hence, it becomes difficult for a player to maintain his place as a hitter. The same is the case with softball. 
  • In softball, if there are two outs in the game now when there is a chance of a third strike when first base is occupied the batter doesn’t get the chance of a third strike. 
  • The main purpose of this rule was to discourage the players who tend to have a potential double play in the game to achieve a third strike. 
  • Lastly, when a third strike occurs as we know that the batter has to reach the first base. In this way, the hitter will come against the best pitch of the pitcher.

What is the Example of Dropped Third Strike in a Game?

There are multiple cases in baseball and softball were dropped the third strike has been recorded but each time it is a different scenario. What is the example of the dropped third strike in a game? The most recent example of the dropped third strike is considered a dropped strikeout that occurs when there are two outs in the game. Now things get interesting at this point all the baserunners have to at least advance one of their bases. Now the catcher has a chance to force out the base of his choice.

What Does the Catcher Need to Do on a Dropped Third Strike?

Not every dropped third strike is successful it’s in the hands of both the hitter and catcher to decide their fates. It is interesting to know that there are different strategies a catcher can use to save dropped the third strike. What does the catcher need to do on a dropped third strike?

  • A catcher can record an out by simply touching the home plate. 
  • There are cases when the ball gets away from the catcher. In this case, the catcher must follow the ball and throw it towards the first base. 
  • The most renowned way that many catchers use, despite there being a dropped third strike recorded they tend to grab the ball and tag the hitter. 
  • Lastly, a catcher must maintain his scoring position and stay at the position of the pitcher.

What Does the Umpire do to Signal a Dropped Third Strike?

Umpires tend to provide signals through either their hand gestures or by yelling. So, what does the umpire do to signal a dropped third strike?

  • The umpire usually uses his right hand on their chest. In this way, the hitter knows he can attempt to take over the base. 
  • Secondly, he yells toward both the pitcher as well as the batter to confirm it is a dropped third strike.

How Do You Score a Dropped Third Strike on a Baseball Scorecard?

There are certain ways an infielder can use to prevent the batter to get the home base. How do you score a dropped third strike on a baseball scorecard? The stat used to score a dropped third strike is K-E2. With this rule, the batter is not allowed to swing as soon as the third strike is recorded.

Does the Hitter get a Hit / Pitcher get a Strikeout?


In case a strikeout is recorded the hitter tends to run towards the first base. So, does the hitter get a hit? Even after doing all this hustle, a hitter doesn’t get a hit.


This case goes well for the pitcher. Do pitchers get a strikeout? Whenever dropped the third strike is recorded, they are given the strikeout even if the batter occupies the base.

What happens If There is a Foul Ball Via the Third Strike?

Dropping the third strikeout is difficult to understand especially in a case when on a third strike the hitter swings and the catcher couldn’t catch it this ball is considered a foul ball. What happens if there is a foul ball via the third strike? It is strange when a foul ball is recorded the hitter is allowed to have another ball to swing.

How is the Dropped Third Strike Rule Similar to the Infield Fly Rule?

As there are many rules in baseball and softball some rules overlap at some points. How is the dropped third strike rule similar to the infield fly rule? The purpose of either of the rules is the same. Both the rules were made to minimize unnecessary double and triple plays.

The Rule Change After the 2005 MLB Playoffs

MLB, unfortunately, came across a con to this rule in the 2005 MLB Playoff. In this playoff, the rule changed out of confusion in the match between Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels. The new rule says if the batter went to the dugout or they leave the base at any cost because this will prevent them to go to the first base.

Famous Dropped Third Strikes

Dropped third strikes are of course thrilling moments for baseball fans. Famous dropped third strikes are from the 1941 world series between New York Yankees Tommy Henrich and Mickey Owens and one between Seattle Mariners and Baltimore Orioles.

Frequently Asked Questions

When can you advance on a dropped third strike?

A hitter can only advance a base if there is no baserunner on the home plate. Apart from that, he is considered out.

When can you run on a dropped third strike in softball?

There are two conditions to it if there are two outs in the play and the batter sees that the home base is empty and eventually the catcher has dropped the catch and the ball has touched the ground. Now a hitter can run towards the home base to save himself and become a baserunner.

Why do catchers throw to third after a strikeout?

Catchers tend to throw towards the base whenever a third strike is recorded so that they could prevent the batter reach the base. In this way, they save their infielder to get out. This is known to be throwing around the horn. This not only benefits the fielder but is also beneficial for most of the players in the game.

The Bottom Line on Dropped Third Strike Rule

In sum, the Dropped Third strikes are one of the confusing yet interesting rules of baseball and softball. This rule was usually made to minimize specific problems like excessive double and triple plays in-game. Overall, this rule was followed till 2005 when it got a change in it.

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