Baseball Instruction/Force at first

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Question
Ground ball to any infielder, throw to first, first baseman jumps to catch high throw, comes down on bag inadvertently as he is reaching out to tag the runner which he does but the ball comes out of his glove on contact with the runner.
Safe or out?

The force and the tag happen almost simultaneously but the force happened first.

Quote any MLB rule that applies please. (I can't find any).

I called the runner safe, got no argument but that doesn't mean much in this case. The best answer I have gotten is safe because the fielder did not maintain control of the ball. Others say, once he touched the bag the runner is out, remember, the force was not intentional. I would like to know the correct call please.

Answer
Eric,

The rule requires that the fielder maintain possession during the tag or the force play.  If I, as an umpire, judge that the fielder did not maintain possession, and that the release of the ball was not deliberate and intentional, I probably have the runner safe.  This of course is based on the fact that you said both happened simultaneously.

The reference point here is 2.00-TAG:
"A TAG is the action of a fielder in touching a base with his body while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove; or touching a runner with the ball, or with his hand or glove holding the ball, while holding the ball securely and firmly in his hand or glove. It is not a tag, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his touching a base or touching a runner, the fielder drops the ball. In establishing the validity of the tag, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball. If the fielder has made a tag and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the tag, the tag shall be adjudged to have been made."

I hope this has helped.

-Martin Hoover

Baseball Instruction

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Martin Hoover

Expertise

Questions regarding the Rules and Regulations of Little League Baseball and Softball. Questions regarding the history and organization of Little League Baseball at local, state, regional, and international levels. Advise regarding certain operational procedures and recommendations to Local League representatives.

Experience

Volunteer Little League Umpire since 2000; 2003 Little League, Junior League, Senior League and Big League Softball European Regional Umpire; 2005 Little League Softball Western Regional Umpire; 2007 Junior Softball Western Regional Umpire; 2011 Little League Softball World Series Umpire; Hesperia National (Hesperia, CA) Little League Board of Directors (2003-2012); President- Hesperia National Little League Board of Directors (2005-2011); Little League District Administrator (2012-present).

Organizations
Little League Baseball, Inc is the main operational center. I fall under Little League Western Region, and California District 49. I currently serve as a Little League District Administrator.

Education/Credentials
Western Regional Junior Umpire School(2000)(Named Outstanding Junior Umpire of the Western Region Area); Have instructed at numerous umpire schools & clinics.

Awards and Honors
Outstanding Junior Umpire of the Western Regional Area(2000)

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