Infield Fly Rule (1894)

“One common error they [scorers} all make is to append foot notes to explain the shortage in put-outs when an infielder purposely muffs or refuses to catch a fly ball, like this, for example: ‘Brown declared out on an infield fly.’ The rule covering such plays is to credit the infielder who muffed the fly or purposely refused to catch it with a put out.” Nebraska State Journal, July 15, 1894, p16.

  • NOTE: This is in a brief article — “Points on Scoring: A Little Lesson in the Art from a Philadelphia Editor” — reporting the words of Horace Fogel of the Philadelphia Ledger who has “read the riot act” to some U.P. [University of Pennsylvania?] scorers. It appeared in other newspapers as well.

“*Twineham out on an infield fly rule.” (In box score for game between Milwaukee and Detroit.) Detroit Free Press, July 29, 1895, p1 

Previous earliest use (Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2009):
1ST USE. 1909 (American Magazine, May, p. 39; Edward J. Nichols). 

  • NOTE: The Dictionary also says that David Nemec (The Rules of Baseball, 1994, p. 29) claimed that “the term ‘infield fly’ did not first appear in the rulebook until 1895” and that “The infield fly rule was preceded by the trap ball rule. Although the infield fly rule was instituted in 1901, the name of the rule was first used eight years later. ” In fact, there are other examples in box scores and stories before 1901 and certainly before 1909. (Ken Liss)