A Foul Tip Is A Live Ball
First, let’s make sure that we know that a foul tip is a very specific thing and most non-umpires (and too many umpires) use the term incorrectly. A foul tip is a ball that goes sharply and directly from the bat to the catchers hand or glove and is caught by the catcher.
I’m not looking at a rule book, but I think that’s right on. Terminology-wise, let’s start with the fact that the ball has to be caught. So any foul ball that is not caught is a foul ball, never a foul tip. OK – the ball has to go “sharply and directly”. The rule says nothing about the height of the ball. You just have to judge sharply and directly. The rule says nothing about “discernable arc” (another term you hear people throw around) – but it would be hard to go sharply and directly if it had an arc, IMO.
The ball has to go sharply and directly from the bat to the catchers hand or glove. So a ball that hits the facemask 1st is a foul ball – not a foul tip. And, finally, it has to be caught by the catcher. So from the bat, sharply and directly to the glove or hand, and caught by catcher. If all that happens – its a strike and a LIVE BALL. That means that the runners who were stealing are live runners. That’s where the coaches get confused. So remember:
Sharply and directly (arc does not matter by rule)
Goes 1st to catchers hand or glove
Caught by catcher
Also – umpires should NEVER verbalize a foul tip. Do the fingers thing so they know you saw it, but don’t confuse anyone by yelling “foul” anything