Each ballpark has its own unique quirks and traits.
Fenway Park has the Green Monster. Wrigley Field has ivy covered garden walls. Oracle Park has the deep gap between center and right field.
Tropicana Field has the catwalks. And while it doesn’t happen often, batted balls have been known to hit the catwalks and fall onto the field, always raising the question of whether the ball that just hit the ground is a home run or just a fly ball.
There are several ground rules for knowing when teams play the Rays at Tropicana Field, and that will certainly come up, as saw in ALDS Game 1 – as the Rays continue their postseason run. To help clear things up, here’s a breakdown of the rules in Tampa about those soaring batted balls.
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What are the runway rules at Tropicana Field?
There are four rings of catwalks on the playing field: rings A, B, C and D.
First, there are the two lower catwalks. These are the C-ring and the D-ring. Any fly ball that hits those two, or any light, suspended object, or support rods angled from them in fair territory is considered a home run.
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Then there are the upper catwalks: A-Ring and B-Ring. If a fly ball hits any of those rings in fair territory, it is fair play to be caught or to land for a base hit. Although it can deviate from the rings, it can be recorded for one out, unlike batted balls that bounce off the walls at other ballparks.
Here’s a look at where the rings are.
There is still more to know about the rules of the catwalk. If a ball hit in fair territory is not considered a home run, but does not return to the field of play and becomes stuck in the catwalk, a light object, or suspended, it is considered a double as a general rule.
However, if the ball hits something in foul territory, a foul ball and a dead ball are called.
Tropicana field dimensions
Free throw lines and center field distances are not particularly different at Tropicana Field than at any other stadium.
According to Baseball Pilgrimages, the outfield is 315 feet to left field, 404 feet to center field and 322 feet to right. But those catwalks add an extra dimension to account for. The heights of the rings over the field are shown below.
|Ring||Above the center||Above home plate|
At just 59 feet above center and 121 feet above home, the D-ring is not far above the playing field. However, given the breadth of the hoop around the field, it is unlikely that you will be hit unless the ball is already out of the field of play.
Are there other stadiums covered with similar rules?
Tropicana Field is the only fixed stadium in the sport.
But there are several other retractable roof parks in the game that will occasionally have a cover over the field: American Family Field in Milwaukee, Chase Field in Phoenix, Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, LoanDeport Park in Miami, Minute Maid Park in Houston, Rogers Center in Toronto and T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
None of the other parks share the same potential walkway concerns that Tropicana Field faces. For stadiums with retractable roofs, the rules are simply that if a batted ball hits the roof over fair territory, it is in play and if it is caught it is an out. If it hits the ceiling in foul territory, it is a dead ball.
How many players have been on the catwalks?
There have been many players over the years at Tropicana Field who have taken to the catwalks, some have gone for hits, some for outs, some for home runs.
The most recent example was Nelson Cruz’s home run in 2021 ALDS Game 1 against the Red Sox, when he hit the C-ring catwalk. According to Baseball Savant, he was expected to travel 406 feet after dropping his bat at 105 mph and traveling at a 39-degree pitch angle.
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A list of every ball hit to hit the catwalks would be too long to include here. The roster in the postseason is a little easier.
According to MLB.com, five players have hit a clean ball on the playoff catwalks. Evan Longoria was the first to hit a home run from the C ring in Game 1 of the 2008 ALDS. BJ Upton hit the C ring in 2008 during Game 6 of the American League Championship Series. Willy Adames hit one in the D ring in Game 4 of the 2019 ALDS. Toronto catcher Danny Jansen became the only visiting player to hit the runway home run when he hit the D-Ring in Game 2 of the Series. 2020 American League Wild Cards.
Perhaps one of the biggest outliers in stadium history came in 2018, when Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier lifted a fly that hit a B-ring speaker in the ninth inning on June 24. The ball was caught by shortstop Adeiny Hechavarría for one out. . Nevertheless, Baseball savant he projected the distance at 335 feet, which would have been a home run had he been hit directly by the left-field line, which has a fence at 315 feet on the foul post.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.