Know who you can call off and who you defer to when a high pop fly is hit, as well as some professional tips for making the play.

Everyone needs to know the chain of command so players won’t be fighting over who will catch a pop up. Whoever calls it will yell “I got it, I got it, I got it” and the person(s) he is calling off will say nothing so there won’t be any misunderstanding on who should catch the ball.

“I got it”

Be loud and call it with “I got it, I got it, I got it”. DON’T yell “ball, ball, ball,” this will get under any professional coaches skin. “I got it” is proven to be less confusing and easier to hear when on the field.

Tips for First Basemen when catching a pop fly or fly ball, includes zone coverage for 1st basemen

8 March 2011: New York Yankees' infielder Doug Bernier calls for an infield pop-up during a Spring Training game against the Atlanta Braves at Champion Park in Orlando, Florida. The Yankees edged out the Braves 5-4 in Grapefruit League action. Mandatory Credit: Ed Wolfstein Photo

Wave Your Hands.

In a noisy stadium, and with the infielder facing away from the outfielder as the catch is made, often times the outfielder can’t hear anything at.

When an infielder waves his hands the outfielder can see that the infielder is underneath the ball and ready to catch it.

Even if you are not playing in noisy stadiums, you may one day be. Pick up good habits now and you won’t have to think about it down the road when the games matter more and things are happening faster.

This section will help first basemen know where their area of the field they need to cover on fly balls. Also, who you have priority over when your area overlaps with the other infielders’ or right outfielders’ area.

First Baseman’s Territory:

Everything from the first base bag to home plate, in both fair and foul territory, is in your domain.

Visual diagram of the area a baseball player needs to cover on the field when fielding a pop fly or fly ball

Diagram of pop fly zone coverage for the entire baseball field

Who you can call off:

As a 1st baseman, you have priority over are the catcher and pitcher. It is easier to catch a pop fly with a first baseman glove than a catcher’s mitt.

Be mindful, if the catcher if camped, don’t come bulling into him trying to make a running catch. Everything towards the mound and home plate you should be able to get.

Who can call you off:

Everyone else. When preparing to catch a pop-up, listen for communication from the other players. If you hear “I got it” from the outfielders, 2nd baseman, shortstop, or 3rd baseman, do your best to get out of their way.

Dealing with potential collisions:

If there is a chance of a collision between and infielder and outfielder on a pop fly in between the two, the outfielder will slide feet first and the infielder will stay on his feet. This is to prevent a head on collision. A glancing blow is better than a major collision.

Here are two examples of collisions.

Example 1: Colliding the Dangerous Way

Red Sox’s Johnny Damon was knocked unconscious in a head-to-head collision with second baseman Damian Jackson.

Example 2: Trip to the Hospital Avoided

In this next example, major injury was avoided because good priority protocol was followed.

Red Sox left fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, and third baseman, Adrian Beltre, both ran hard after a pop fly. Ellsbury slid just before collision, following proper pop-fly priority protocol for outfielders, and effectively avoided a head-on collision. His quick response likely saved him a concussion and trip to the hospital, if Johnny Damon’s experience is any indication.

Click here to watch the video.

The Bottom Line:

Go after everything you can get but remember if you hear someone call it other than the pitcher or catcher, get away and let him catch it.

  1. How to Field a Baseball Like A Pro – Part 1 of a series on fielding the baseball
  2. How to Throw a Baseball, Part 1: The 4 seam Grip
  3. Infield in, no doubles, and other first base positioning
  4. Communication and Defensive Strategies – Secret infield communication throughout the game
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About Author

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 13 years. Most recently, Doug signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2013, where he logged time at every infield position except 1st base in 33 Major League games. Currently Doug is with the Twins' AAA team in Rochester, NY

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