A no pitch is an umpire's ruling in baseball or softball in which a pitch thrown by a pitcher is neither a ball nor a strike. This is typically the umpire's call whenever the pitcher released the ball after the umpire called timeout.[1] However, there are other instances in which this can be called.

Major League Baseball rulesEdit

The call is not directly defined in the MLB rulebook. However, it is still mentioned in a comment under Rule 6.02(b):[2]

A ball which slips out of a pitcher’s hand and crosses the foul line shall be called a ball; otherwise it will be called no pitch. This would be a balk with men on base.


There are various reasons an umpire would rule a no pitch:

  • If any umpire calls time while a pitch is being delivered.
  • With nobody on base, the pitcher releases the ball and the ball fails to pass over home plate or a foul line.
  • While the pitch is being delivered, the ball is interfered with while in flight.
  • If an umpire believes the batter is not ready or if the batter is not in the batter's box, a no pitch may also be called.
  • A home plate umpire not in a ready position to call a ball or strike may call a no pitch.

One of the most famous no pitch calls occurred when Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson hit a bird with a pitch. During a spring training game on March 24, 2001, Johnson's fastball struck and killed a dove that swooped across the infield after Johnson released the pitch.[3] MLB's chief umpire noted that under Rule 8.01(c),[2] umpires can make calls in situations not covered by the rules using "common sense and fair play," and here a no pitch call "was the fairest thing to do."[4] This no pitch call is so well known that there are more Google search results for "Randy Johnson bird" than there are for "Randy Johnson baseball."[5]


  1. ^ Joe Morgan, Richard Lally (2011), Baseball For Dummies, ISBN 1118054377, The umpire's call whenever he rules that a pitch is neither a ball nor a strike, usually because the pitcher released the ball after the umpire called timeout.
  2. ^ a b "OFFICIAL BASEBALL RULES 2019 Edition" (PDF). MLB. Major League Baseball. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Randy Johnson Kills Dove With Pitch". ABC News. March 26, 2001. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  4. ^ Nelson, Ralph. "Ask The Umpire". MLB.com. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  5. ^ Landers, Chris. "Let's remember the time Randy Johnson accidentally drilled a bird with a fastball". mlb.com. Retrieved 16 March 2018.