A pop fly that drops suddenly and unexpectedly, like a bird that has been shot on the wing. It often falls between fielders for a base hit.
A wind blowing in from the outfield may be an important factor. Ira Berkow (The New York Times, Oct. 6, 1988): “The hit is often referred to in baseball . . . as a dying quail. And never did one of them look more like it was on its last flap than that . . . broken-bat bingle . . . which was struck by Gary Carter . . . to drive in two runs.” Brooks Robinson (WMAR telecast, May 29, 1986): “[That was] a dying quail single that will look like a line drive in the paper tomorrow.” See also dying seagull; wounded duck. Syn. quail; dying swan. 1st use. 1954. “[Mickey Mantle] dropped [Roy] Campanella’s ‘dying quail’ looper in the first” (Joseph M. Sheehan, The New York Times, Apr. 11).