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Best Foul Poles for Baseball and Softball Fields
The ball got crushed.
Everybody stood on their feet and watched it sail towards the corner of the fence.
For a moment, there was that suspended feeling of indecision.
Will it be fair or foul? Then…
The ball smacked the yellow pole in the outfield, and the ump signaled home run.
Without the foul pole, it would have been really difficult to tell if that ball would have actually been fair.
That's the value of foul poles: they're the silent sentinels on the field that differentiate home runs from just another strike.
Foul poles are present at every baseball and softball field. They're one of those required elements of a ballpark that make the field actually able to host a formal game.
In this post, we highlight the rules for foul pole size by league and level, and then we showcase the best foul poles on the market based on these size requirements.
Ready to learn more? Keep scrolling…
Foul Pole Size and Color Requirements by League
The following are known foul pole height requirements as described in league handbooks:
- Little League Baseball & Softball, Cal Ripken Baseball, and many Other Youth Leagues. Foul poles must at least be 6 feet higher than the top of the outfield fence. Yellow is the recommended color.
- NFHS (High School Standards). The NFHS does not specify required pole height.
- NCAA Softball. The minimum height requirement is 10 feet above ground. However, in 2022 NCAA made a rule change that kept the 10’ minimum while adding a “recommendation” that foul poles be as much as 40’ high (e.g., 40’ above ground level). NCAA fastpitch softball foul poles must be painted white or orange.
- NCAA Baseball. Does not specify height but requires foul poles to be painted fluorescent yellow.
- MLB Baseball. The MLB's official rulebook does not require a specific height for foul poles. Secondary sources show that the MLB generally recommends foul poles at big league ballparks be at least 45 feet tall.
When in doubt, always consult your league rulebook.
Also, if your facility hosts multiple leagues or levels, go with the highest foul pole height requirement found among the league or level you host.
Rules of Thumb
In the absence of established height or size requirements, here are some general principles to keep in mind.
- The smaller the field, the shorter the foul pole. This means that youth leagues don't need a super high pole.
- The bigger the field, the taller the foul pole.
- The most common foul pole color is bright yellow.
- Many poles contain a rectangular "wing panel" on the fair territory side only to help make it easier for umpires to make a call.
- Foul poles can be installed directly into concrete poured in the ground or into ground sleeves.
A Note About Ground Sleeves
A ground sleeve is a strong tube made out of steel, PVC, aluminum or another durable material.
It is inserted into concrete footings in the ground and its primary purpose is to hold a pole firmly in place.
The value of using ground sleeves is that it makes a pole's installation semi-permanent.
Meaning, a foul pole used with a ground sleeve can be removed and reinstalled later with no damage to the pole itself.
When not in use, ground sleeves typically have a cap over the top to keep them from becoming a tripping hazard (or a rainwater repository).
Foul poles do not need to use ground sleeves to be installed; they are simply an optional "accessory".
If the idea of removing and later, reinstalling, foul poles seems like it would be useful for your field, then you might want to consider picking up two compatible ground sleeves for the poles.
Best Foul Poles for Baseball and Softball
Top Foul Poles for Youth Fields
Our pick for the best foul poles for youth baseball or softball fields is the 12' BSN Professional Foul Pole.
It comes as a pair, and each pole is made out of heavy duty steel. That's important because a steel pole should hold up well for a really long time.
The steel is 13 gauge and measures 3.5" in diameter.
On the top half of the poles is a metal "wing" extending into fair territory, which makes it much easier to tell whether a ball is foul or fair.
These 12' BSN Poles are painted bright yellow and have an optic powdercoat finish, which simply means they were treated to better withstand the elements and to be reflective and visible.
In short, this is a high quality foul pole set that gets all the fundamentals right. With its 12' length, BSN's poles are a fantastic option for youth fields.
Best Foul Poles for High School and College Softball Fields
We like the Gared in-ground foul poles in white for fastpitch softball fields at the high school and college levels.
These particular poles measure 20' in length from the ground level to the top. In reality, they're actually slightly longer than 20' to account for mounting them in-ground.
The poles are 3.5" O.D. and made of galvanized steel with a powdercoat in bright white.
Like the BSN poles, these Gared foul poles come with an 18" wide steel mesh panel jutting into fair territory to help umps make their calls.
They do have compatible ground sleeves available if that's something you prefer to use.
Top Foul Poles for High School and College Baseball Fields
If you need a pair of foul poles for a high school or college baseball field, then we’d suggest giving the Trigon 20’ Foul Poles a close look.
These poles are made out of heavy duty steel with an outside diameter of 3.5”. They are galvanized with a powder coat finish in bright yellow.
Like the others in this article, the Trigon 20' poles have a wing panel that extends into fair territory to a width of 18”. This particular steel wing panel, however, extends upward to a length of 12’.
When shipped, the pole is divided into two parts (upper and lower) and the wing panel is separate. The package contains all the washers, bolts, nuts and screws needed to attach everything.
Also, Trigon's foul poles come with two 48" ground sleeves, which is a great benefit by itself.
That's A Wrap!
We hope this article was helpful to you.
If we can answer any questions for you, then please feel free to reach out to us.