No pitch

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:

  • A no pitch is usually ruled 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 the 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. The ball was near home plate when it hit a flying bird. After the pitch hit the bird, the ball was ruled dead. The bird was also ruled dead. 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."[3]


  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. ^ "OFFICIAL BASEBALL RULES 2019 Edition" (PDF). MLB. Major League Baseball. Retrieved 31 May 2020.
  3. ^ Landers, Chris. "Let's remember the time Randy Johnson accidentally drilled a bird with a fastball". Retrieved 16 March 2018.