Unveiling Misunderstood Baseball Rules: An Interview with Former Umpire Ryotaro Sakai

Interview with Former Professional Baseball Umpire Ryotaro Sakai: A Deep Dive into the Rules

Baseball, known for its intricate rules, often leaves even the most seasoned players perplexed. Surprisingly, even professional baseball players earning millions annually can make mistakes simply due to a lack of understanding of the rules. This is a common occurrence in the sport.

With this in mind, we sat down with Ryotaro Sakai, a former professional baseball umpire who now educates audiences as an “umpire YouTuber,” to shed light on the “70% of rules professionals struggle to answer.”

Ryotaro Sakai, utilizing his vast experience as a referee, passionately shares extensive knowledge of baseball rules on his YouTube channel and other platforms. [Photo provided by Ryotaro Sakai]

● Debunking a Popular Baseball Manga Misconception

Baseball rules, originally formulated in America, have been adopted across the globe, including in Major League Baseball and Japanese professional baseball. These rules are also mirrored in baseball manga. Let’s start by demystifying a commonly misunderstood rule depicted in popular works.

In various baseball manga series, there is often a scene in which a fielder leaps into the air to catch a seemingly home run-worthy fly ball, only to then jump over the fence and land in the stands. While this might make for an exciting story, it simply doesn’t align with the actual rules of the game.

Sakai explains, “In ‘Dokaben,’ during the game between Akinori and Tosamaru, there’s a scene where Ryo Inugami climbs the fence to catch a high fly ball and subsequently falls into the lucky zone, resulting in a bye home run. Similarly, in the high school edition of ‘MAJOR,’ the outfielder catches Tashiro’s mammoth fly ball and crosses the fence, which is also counted as a bye home run.”

“Both of these scenarios deviate from the actual rules, but due to their depiction in popular manga, they sparked discussions and created an opportunity for baseball fans to gain a better understanding of the game’s crucial rules. The key point in this particular rule revolves around when and how the fielder catches the ball.”

According to Sakai, if the fielder catches the ball before stepping out of bounds or if their whole body enters the stands while making the catch, it results in an out. On the other hand, if the fielder manages to catch the ball while having a foot inside the field and then steps out, it counts as a home run. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to this aspect and appreciate scenes where outfielders make incredible catches while balancing on the edge of the fence.

Interview with former professional baseball umpire Ryotaro Sakai Part 2 (2 episodes)

Baseball is perhaps the representative sport where there are many rules that even experienced players do not know. Even professional baseball players who earn more than 100 million dollars a year make mistakes simply because they don’t understand the rules. I see this kind of scene often.

So, this time, we asked Ryotaro Sakai, a former professional baseball umpire who currently explains the rules as an “umpire YouTuber”, to teach us about the rules “professionals can’t answer about 70% “.

Ryotaro Sakai, who uses his experience as a referee to convey the rules of baseball on YouTube, etc. Photo/provided by himself


● “That scene” in the popular baseball manga is a misunderstanding

Baseball rules are translated from the original American rulebook and adopted around the world. Major League baseball, Japanese professional baseball, and baseball drawn in manga all have the same rules. First of all, one misunderstood rule of popular works.

“In a scene often depicted in baseball manga, a fielder jumps over a large fly ball that looks like it might be a home run, catches it, then jumps over the fence and falls into the stands. It’s very surprising, but it’s really out.” (Sakai)

In “Dokaben”, in the game between Akinori and Tosamaru, there is a scene where Ryo Inugami climbs the fence and catches a home fly ball, then falls into the lucky zone and becomes a bye home run. In the high school edition “MAJOR”, the outfielder catches Tashiro’s big fly ball and crosses the fence, which also becomes a bye home run.

“They are both wrong compared to the real rules, but the fact that they are drawn in a popular manga became a hot topic, and I think it is a good opportunity for some of baseball fans want to know more about the important rules. the point of this rule is whether or not the fielder caught the ball at what time.

If the fielder puts his whole body into the stands or catches the ball before stepping, it is out, and if he steps in, it is a home run. I would like you to pay attention to this point and enjoy the scene where the fielder catches the ball on the edge of the fence.”

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