edited by Frank F. DiClemente
PHILLIPS ACADEMY, ANDOVER, MASSACHUSETTS
ADVISORY EDITORS Theodore A. Sanford, COMMISSIONER, KENTUCKY HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY Otto Kuehn, ATHLETIC OFFICIALS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, INC., CHICAGO, ILLINOIS Harold Schmickley, ASSISTANT SECRETARY, IOWA HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION, ROONE, IOWA
CREATIVE EDUCATIONAL SOCIETY, Inc., Mankato, Minnesota
© Copyright 1960 by the Creative Educational Society, Inc. Mankato, Minnesota
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED PRINTED IN T HE UNIT ED ST ATES OF AMER IC A
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 60-8775
John Lowell Pratt, EDITOR-IN -CHIEF Donald Schiffer, MANAGING EDITOR
Clifford L. Brownell, Chairman, Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Teachers College, Columbia University Carl L. Nordly, Chairman, Department of Physical Education, Berkeley, California Clifford B. Fagan, Executive Secretary, National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations Theodore P. Bank, President, The Athletic Institute Walter Byers, Executive Director, National Collegiate Athletic Association Clyde Overmyer, ART EDITOR Roy Swanson, COVER ARTIST John Biehl, PHOTOGRAPHER Robert Kingery, Chief of the Preparation Division, New York Public Library, LIBRARY CONSULTANT
FOOTBALL. James Dunn, Roselle Park High School, Roselle Park, New Jersey BASEBALL. Frank F. DiClemente, Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts BASKETBALL. Vern B. Hoffman, Mansfield Senior High School, Mansfield, Ohio TRACK AND FIELD. Harry E. Mehock, Mansfield Senior High School, Mansfield, Ohio, and Rich Hacker, Berkeley High School, Berkeley, California GOLF, SWIMMING, and TENNIS. Charles (Chick) Evans, Charles E. Forsythe, Helen H. Jacobs. RECREATIONAL SPORTS. Clifford L. Brownell
IN SPORTS, as in all other areas of life,
a knowledge of the rules that govern all groups of individuals is essential to a successful adjustment to the world and the other fellow. If the individual knows why the rules have been made, so much the better. All men must live by rules and the sooner they accept this fact, the better their lives will be. So it is in sports — each one has a basic set of rules regarding personal conduct, team conduct, the execution of plays, and decent behavior toward teammates and opponents. Thus, if the young man preparing for adult life has a good grounding in the rules that govern sports, chances are he will also have a better understanding of what will be expected of him in all the areas of later life. He will also have some understanding of what to expect of others, having seen in team play many different human reactions to all sorts of situations. Educators will be the first to agree that it is very important to the young man that he be able to rid himself harmlessly of some of the rebellions and frustrations
that beset him. With every young man, there are times when the world seems like a pretty sad place—adults expect too much of him, he does not know where he is going, he feels that he has been badly treated, and he is angry and wants to hit back at something or somebody. This perfectly natural and universal feeling can be greatly relieved by slamming one well-protected body into another well-protected body in scrimmage, or by banging a baseball over the fence for a home run. The boy who breaks the school record for the broad jump and the one who sinks a basket for the winning score in a basketball game feels bigger for his accomplishment and he is bigger — he has helped himself, his team and his school. I have always believed that the boy who plays a game, whether he does it well or badly, is getting more out of life than the one who does not. So often in sports the dragons of fear and self-doubt must be slain, and each time this happens, the character is a little bit stronger and the whole man a little bit closer to reality. There is a real need in schools for books that go deeply into the basics of sports and the books in this set do — from t he ve ry root s of each sport to a pictorial dramatization of each technique.
C. B. FAGAN Executive Secretary National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations
COLOR PLATES: "All Eyes on the Ball" "Southpaw Stylist" "A Running Backhand" "A Fast Double Play" "Backhanding a Grass-hopper" "Cut Down at the Plate" Full-color illustrations were rendered especially for the CREATIVE S PORTS SER IES.
PIC TURE ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Athletic Journal ......................... 52-55 Baltimore Orioles ............................ 84 Boston Red Sox ................. (lower) 94 Milwaukee Braves .............. 71, 93, 126 New York Public Library . . 15,17 -19 Philadelphia Phillies ....................... 84 St. Louis Cardinals ..................51, 202 Washington Senators ...................... 85 Wide World.......................... 21-23, 25, 26, 32, 33, 40-47, 56-60, 63, 64, 65-67, 68 (lower), 69, 74-77, 86, 100, 103, 105, 111, 114, 115, 116 (lower), 117 (lower), 118-120, 127, 128, 129-132, 138, 139, 142, 143, 146, 147, 149, 151, 158-160, 162, 163, 166-170, 172-180, 184-190, 193-195, 197, 199-201, 203-205, 241, 243 (lower), 246, 248 Other photographs were taken by John Biehl especially for this book. Members of the Roselle Park (New Jersey) High School baseball team who p os ed fo r t h em are Paul Jo s ep h, Mickey Signorella and Joseph Donnelly.
Editorial Board ........................................................................................ Foreword by C. B. Fagan ...................................................................... Picture Acknowledgments ...................................................................... Introduction by Frank F. DiClemente .................................................... ORIGIN AND EARLY HISTORY........................................................ 5 7 8 11 14
PLAYING TECHNIQUES .................................................................... 24 Batting .............................................................................................. 26 Pitching ............................................................................................. 59 Fielding, General ............................................................................ 87 Catching ............................................................................................ 101 First Base Play .................................................................................. 121 Second Base and Shortstop Play ....................................................... 133 Third Base Play ............................................................................... 161 Outfielding ........................................................................................ 171 Team Defense, General .................................................................. 181 Base Running and Sliding ............................................................. 191 PLAY SITUATIONS ............................................................................ 204 COACHING AND STRATEGY .......................................................... 240 Glossary ................................................................................................ 252
Index ....................................................................................................... 254 Bibliography ............................................................................................ 256
HERE is nothing more satisfying for a baseball coach than to have a boy of competitive nature on his squad, with little or no natural ability but with enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and play the game. This is the type of athlete, who, despite shortcomings in talent, will learn that with consistent hard work he can become reasonably proficient and derive as much satisfaction from playing the game as the most gifted and talented player. Coaches do not expect their ball players to make all the "proper moves." Coaching, of course, would be less complicated if players were expert in all elements of the game — but it would certainly be less fun. A boy who tries out for the varsity team is usually deficient in some department of play. His batting stance, his swing, his followthrough all may have slight imperfections. It's work — and enjoyment —to teach the player how to correct these faults. It's a matter of personal satisfaction when the player proves he can absorb these instructions. As coaches, we cannot do the impossible. We cannot make big-leaguers out
of the average player of normal skills. However, we can help him improve by straightening out a flaw here and there — something which this volume is intended to do. To cover everything there is to learn in baseball would require a five-foot bookshelf. Entire books have been written just on pitching, or batting, or stealing bases. Now all the many and varied methods of techniques have been incorporated in just one volume. With actual photographs of players of school age, posed specifically for this book, plus photographs of major-leaguers in action, it is hoped that there will be a better and sharper visual understanding of the proper way to play the game. Not all coaches teach and think alike. The text within these pages points out where and why coaches differ in their instructional methods. This is as it should be because coaches must constantly improvise in order to get the most out of their squad. Some batters will never be able to rid themselves of a hitch in their swing; others will constantly over-stride at the plate. Many pitchers will never learn to throw a curve ball, and some second basemen, or shortstops, will never really acquire the proper knack of pivoting around second base. The young player who learns his baseball lessons well will be much better prepared to deal with the multiple problems which await him in later life. The value of team play, the constant mental struggle between defense and
offense, the various play situations which call for immediate decisions are all healthy teaching aids. It is not the specific aim of the school coach to produce players for professional play. However, it would be derelict of any coach who did not recognize potential professional talent in any of his players. Once recognized, it should be the responsibility of the coach to de -
velop it to the best of his ability. Every effort should be made to impress upon the gifted player the knowledge that he has the God-given skills which can carry him high up on the professional ladder.
FRANK F. DiCLEMENTE Phillips Academy Andover, Massachusetts
Origin and Early History
THE EARLIEST REFERENCES to a thrown ball go back 5,000 years, to the era of the first civilized man. History records that the ancient Egyptians, and later the Greeks and Romans, tossed balls back and forth as part of their religious rites and as a conditioning exercise. Some phase of ball-throwing activity probably goes back to the most primitive man. The first actual historical record of any sort of true "game" to be played with a ball and bat appears in the 12th Century in France and Spain. It was the custom, after Easter services, to play a ball game in which the whole congregation would rush up and down the main
street, happily hitting a ball with a stick. The English took to the idea as soon as the news reached them and promptly developed a game called "stool ball," so called because part of the gear was a milkmaid's stool. The point was that one player tried to hit an upturned stool with a ball while his opponent tried to bat or swat the ball away from the goal. For some reason, this game was played in churchyards. Later, a group of unidentified milkmaids entered the picture and added second, third and fourth stools as "bases" to be circled after the ball was hit. "Rounders" became one of the favor-
ite games of British youngsters — the French played a similar game but called it "poison ball" —and it was brought to the American colonies by early settlers. Another game the English colonists preferred was cricket. They had brought cricket equipment with them but kept it reserved for the grown-ups. The youngsters of the 1700s had to make do with old, discarded bats and balls and their "wickets" (which can be called the bases in cricket) became wooden stakes driven into the ground. Their game became a combination of rounders and cricket with new wrinkles added as they occurred to the players. The rules de pended upon the number of players on hand and the playing equipment available. The Early Ball. — The boys thought up the idea of wrapping string around a center of rags until it was big enough and firm enough to use as a ball; they eliminated the stakes that were used as bases in cricket and substituted flat rocks that were not so easy to stumble over; their bats were fashioned from tree branches. There was, at the outset of earliest play, just one stake at a point back of the pitcher, just as there is one wicket back of a cricket bowler. The next stake was just about where first base is now and the third stake was at approximately the same spot as third base. The player ran from home to first, then across the field, back of the pitcher to third, and then home, covering a triangular infield. The distance between stakes was left up to team captains and usually ranged from sixty feet to seventy-
five. The batter tried to hit a ball thrown by a pitcher and, if he did, to get around as many bases as he could before he was put out. He was safe on a base, the same as today. There was no set number of players, "plugging" (hitting a player with the ball as he ran between bases) was permitted, and the size and shape of the field varied from area to area. This primitive version of baseball became very popular all over the American colonies and was variously called "Town Ball," "One Old Cat," "Two Old Cat," "Massachusetts Game," "Goal Ball," and even "Base Ball." "The Book of Sport," by Robin Carter, published in 1834, included a set of playing rules and a diagram of a diamond for baseball as it was played in the early 1830s. The rules were similar to modern ones: Three strikes constituted an out, as did a caught fly. When the batsman got a hit and circled the bases, he made a run. There were no basemen designated, and when a player fielded a throw he "plugged" it at the base-runner who was then out. There were no umpires. First base is shown as being to the left of the catcher where third now is and the base-runners ran clockwise. These rules were almost exactly the same as the older rules for rounders. Was rounders of American invention, or was it really a form of cricket? That was the argument that raged some years later. Whatever its origin and name, a game was being played in the United States as early as the 1700s that was a
crude forerunner of the swift and sparkling game played on diamonds throughout the country today. Origin in America.— It wasn't until 1905 that the aforementioned argument started. Henry Chadwick, called the father of baseball, its first writer and the inventor of the box score, claimed that American baseball was positively descended from the British game of rounders, which became "town ball" in this country, then baseball. He was an eyewitness to the evolution, having seen rounders played as a boy in England, and rounders, town ball and baseball in this country. A. G. Spalding, founder of the famous sporting goods house, a fine pitcher himself, and publisher of the "Baseball Guide," claimed that such a theory was nonsense and that baseball was purely an American invention. A committee was appointed to investigate the matter. The findings of the committee — that baseball had been invented in 1839 by Abne r D ou bl e d a y, a d i st i ngui she d Civil War General, in Cooperstown, New York — were based wholly upon evidence submitted in a letter written by a man who stated that he had observed the actual invention when he was a schoolboy in Cooperstown. Many accepted the findings of the committee even though there seemed to be much more evidence to support Chadwick's claim than that of Spalding. To this day, even though numerous baseball authorities have repeatedly poked holes in the Doubleday theory, there are many who still believe this old story. It
Henry Chadwick, who invented the first box score and was unwavering in his belief that baseball descended from the British game of rounders.
should be noted that Abner Doubleday himself never made any claims whatever to having had any influence on baseball. He had died years before the findings were published. By the early 1840s, the baseball games played in this country had been pretty well standardized into "Town Ball," played East of New York, and "the New York Game," played, naturally, in New York. They were alike in many re spects but Town Ball was patterned more after the ancient rounders, while the New York Game seems to have been largely taken from cricket. In 1842, the New Yorkers drew up the first diagram of a baseball field and grown men began to take this boys' game seriously and to see in it possibilities for a great sport. In 1845, the Knickerbocker Baseball Club of New York was formed, the first such organization in history. It was an
amateur group with duly elected officers. No professional organization was to appear for twenty-five more years. The Club immediately began drawing up a set of standard rules and making plans for a more satisfactory playing field. Draftsman and surveyor Alexander Cartwright was given the task of preparing a diagram for a new type of field. By the following year, Cartwright had prepared the diamond diagram which, except for minor changes, is the baseball field used to this day wherever baseball is played. The Knickerbockers also established uniform rules which set the pattern for present-day ball. The First Game. — The Knickerbockers then issued challenges to take on all comers and the first baseball game ever played under organized rules took place on June 19, 1846, at Elysian Fields (near Hoboken), New Jersey. "The New York Nine" was the opposing team and they beat the Knicks 23-1 in four innings. So depressed were the Knickerbockers that they played no more inter-city games until 1851, but limited their play to practice games. After five years of practice, they evidently believed they were ready for another go at the game and took on the "Washington Baseball Club of New York" on June 3, 1851 on the same Elysian Fields. Both teams were tied at the end of the ninth, but the Knicks got two runs in the tenth to win the game 22-20. The next year, the Washington Club, which had become "The Gothams," challenged for a return match at the Red House Grounds, 106th Street and Second Avenue in New York City. The now
thoroughly experienced Knicks wrapped this one up in six innings, 21-12, and the first box score was kept at this game. The Knicks were nattily clad in the first baseball uniforms, consisting of white shirts, long blue trousers, blue and white belts and white caps. Another game between the two teams, played two years later in New York, had a major effect on the development of baseball. Until this game, which resulted in history's first tie—12-12 in twelve innings—other teams had not dared challenge the Knickerbockers, but when they saw that the Knicks were not invincible, a scramble followed in and around New York to field teams that could challenge them. By 1858 there were twenty-five organized amateur baseball clubs in New York and New Jersey. During that same year the Knickerbocker Club lost the control over the game that it had held since
its formation because of its stubborn refusal to concede to rule changes demanded by the other clubs. The Club felt that the game should be reserved for "gentlemen" and resisted efforts to make changes that would make it more popular. It did agree to a change which set the game at nine innings of play instead of twenty-one points, but would allow no further modernization of the rules. At an 1858 meeting of all the clubs, the National Association of Baseball Players was formed, the first body duly appointed to govern baseball, and the Knickerbockers were eased out of the picture. Growth of the Game. — The game grew more popular with both players and spectators and the first professionally-promoted game — the start of a three-game series — was held at the Fashion Race Track on Long Island, near Brooklyn, New York. At fifty cents a head, the match attracted
This was a legal pitching delivery.
This was not a legal delivery.
Ty Cobb was baseball's greasiest hitter. He played 24 years and compiled a lifetime average of .367, the highest in history.
an attendance of 1,500 for a gate of $750, big money to players who had heretofore paid their own way. Incidentally, New York beat Brooklyn in two of the three games. The series attracted a great deal of attention throughout the country and more and more clubs began to form, extending into the Midwest. Baseball was well on its way to becoming one of the major recreational interests of the country. The first intercollegiate game in history was played between Amherst and Williams on July 1, 1859. Amherst won 73-32 and the excellence of Amherst's pitcher, a man named Hyde, was explained away by Williams rooters with the story (never proved) that he was a
local blacksmith disguised as a college student. In 1860, the Brooklyn Excelsiors, a fine team that featured baseball's first star pitcher, nineteen-year-old James Creighton, made a pioneer baseball tour, playing in upper New York and then through Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, winning all fifteen games played. Their tour was immensely successful from both the standpoint of public acceptance and player interest. They frequently played before record crowds — up to that time — of 3,000 and new clubs were formed in the surge of enthusiasm aroused by the conquering Excelsiors. The start of the Civil War in 1861 cut short the growth of baseball teams. In New York the number of clubs dropped from sixty-two to twenty-eight in the first two years of the war — but the war was to have an unexpectedly important effect upon the increase of baseball's popularity. Union soldiers took the game with them wherever they went and many Southerners saw baseball for the first time in Northern prison camps. One Army game was watched by 40,000 men, by far the largest crowd ever to attend a sporting event in this country to that time. When the fighting men returned home, they carried with them enthusiastic reports of the new game and soon the South was busily forming teams in many states. In the years following the Civil War, the growth of baseball's popularity was tremendous. In 1865, just after the end of the war, ninety-one clubs were
represented at the convention of the National Association of Baseball Players. Two years later, the number had grown to 237 members and New York was no longer the leader in numbers of clubs. Illinois had more than twice as many, Ohio had twice as many, and Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Indiana, Maryland and Connecticut had about the same number of teams as New York. While baseball was growing throughout the country, most of the New Englanders held out against the "New York Game" and were still playing their old "Town Ball" — now known as the "Massachusetts Game" — featuring long-since abandoned customs like "plugging." This difference in style naturally limited the competition between New England and other areas. Pro Ball. — The Cincinnati Red Stockings, organized as an amateur team in 1866, decided that the club would be a professional team with regular salaries for the players. The venture was an immediate success, especially since the newly organized team clobbered all opposition on a road tour. Cincinnati fans loved their Red Stockings. The Wright brothers — George and Harry — were big influences on the team's success. Harry was manager and captain and he had the good sense to travel around the circuit and sign up the best performers from other good teams, thus introducing the idea that members of a team need not necessarily be home town boys. The Cincinnati team had players from New York, Washington and Brooklyn. Harry also designed the first true baseball uniform
which, in this case, was red and white and very similar to today's uniforms. Brother George also was the star player of the nine-man (no substitutes) team which, in 1869, traveled 12,000 miles and played fifty-seven unbeaten games. George, a shortstop, and the first ball player who got pestered by fans on the street, hit fifty-nine homers and batted .518. He was the earliest player of his era selected to Baseball's Hall of Fame. Harry Wright got $1,200 a year, his brother George got $1,400 and other team members' salaries ranged from $1,000 down to $800, and their playing season lasted for eight months, March to November. During their second season, the Red Stockings continued to crush all the opposition for another twenty-two games, but their seventy-eight game winning streak was finally broken at Brooklyn.
Babe Ruth was the game's greatest home-run hitter. He smashed a total of 714 homers in his 22 years as pitcher, first baseman and outfielder.
The Brooklyn Athletics beat them 8-7 in eleven innings before a crowd of 20,000 standees at fifty cents a head. It was clear after the Reds' highly successful first season-and-a-half that amateur ball was all through and that pro ball was off and running. First League.— In 1871, a number of teams met and formed the National Asso-
The first National League idol of the 20th century was Christy Mathewson, master of the fadeaway which is nothing much more than today's screwball. In 18 years as a pitcher for the New York Giants and Cincinnati Reds, Matty won 373 games.
ciation of Professional Baseball Players. The teams in this organization were from New York City, Brooklyn, Boston, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, Fort Wayne (Ind.), Rockford (111.) and Troy (N.Y.). Later that same year other teams joined up. The new organization was weak and loosely knit. It set up various rules but could not do much about enforcing them, and for the next five years baseball's progress was all downhill. Clubs followed any schedule that happened to appeal; gambling on the outcome of the games was difficult for the police to control; hard liquor was consumed in large quantities at the games, and pickpockets, drunk-rollers and brawlers drove away the respectable fans. Teams lost money and reputations and some of them folded. The game had to clean house or go out of business. In 1876, two men began to do something about it. They were William A. Hulbert, president of the Chicago White Stockings, and Boston pitcher Albert G. Spalding. The latter jumped from Boston to Chicago, taking three star teammates along with him, so that he and Hulbert could lay plans for the formation of a new organization. Spalding, incidentally, was a great missionary for the American game. He took the Bostons and the Philadelphia Athletics to England on a sail-rigged steamship, for a series of exhibition matches in 1874. Start of Organized Play — Spalding and Hulbert continued with their effort s to organize baseball on a responsible business basis and, in January of 1876, a secret meeting was called at Louisville
This is how the stylish fans looked when they turned out to cheer for their favorites at the turn of the century. Ladies liked baseball, even in the olden days.
where plans were formed for an organization to be known as the National League. A month later a constitution was agreed upon and the new league was a reality. The first game played under National League rules, and thus the real beginning of baseball as we know it, took place at Philadelphia on Saturday, April 22, 1876. Boston beat the home team 6-5. The first real test of the NL's power took place in the same year when the Philadelphia Athletics and the New Yorks decided it was too much trouble to travel west to complete their schedules. The League tossed out these two largest cities for six full years. By this action they proved
once and for all that they meant business and that no team, no matter how powerful, was going to be permitted to trifle with the rules. Additional evidence of the League's determination to clean up baseball came when four Louisville players were convicted of making deals with gamblers and were barred for life. Gambling and drinking at games were cut down to the extent that the sport soon became respectable enough for ladies to visit the ball parks. The National League had won its battle for existence and baseball began a steady march upwards to fantastic heights of success, popularity and profit. But it had a long climb.
TAKE A BOY to the ball field and guess
what he will pick up for the first time . . . a glove or a bat? Right. Just about everybody who plays baseball, or who ever thought of playing baseball, loves to bat. Some players have the gift of being "born" hitters; that is, they are blessed with excellent eyesight, quick reflexes, strong wrists and husky shoulders. These players usually become the better batters,
but that does not mean the average player with normal build and strength cannot become a moderately successful bat- ¯ ter. There are very few Ted Williamses, Stan Musials and Hank Aarons. These batters are extremely gifted, such as a concert violinist or pianist. But there are many hundreds of players who learned the techniques of batting so well that eventually they became major-leaguers.
Selecting a Bat. — Take a bat and swing it. If it feels "good" and is not too heavy or not too light, try it out. Do not use a bat that is too long, stay away from a bat that is too short. To help you select the right type of bat, remember that the average school player uses one that is about thirtyfour inches long. Also, the weight of the bat is equal to one ounce for each inch. Thus a 34-34 bat, in length and weight, is just about average. Stance. — Many batters approach the plate and do not know how close, or how far, to stand from the plate. Some batters wonder whether they should stand in front of the batter's box, others cannot decide whether it is best to place their feet to the rear of the batter's box. None of this is important in the learning stage of batting, but what is important is that the batter make himself comfortable at the plate. When a batter takes his stance, he is taking one of three stances: the parallel stance, the closed stance, the open stance. Each stance has its advantages, but the batter who feels most comfortable in any of the three should use that particular stance. This batter (right) in a slightly closed stance feels he is most relaxed as he awaits the pitch. Again, just which stance to assume is strictly a matter of choice and comfort. However, the more advanced player may, on occasion, switch stances according to the type of pitcher he is facing, or the situation in the game.
Spread. — The spread of the feet is also a matter of individual taste. Some batters prefer to keep their feet close together thus making for a longer stride when swinging at the pitch. Others will take a medium spread, thus shortening the stride; and there are some batters who will take a wide spread and therefore cut down their stride to a minimum. The average hitter normally spreads his feet about seventeen to nineteen inches and many coaches recommend this spread distance. The power hitter, however, will use a shorter spread since he gets most of his strength from a longer stride. Musial likes a long stride, therefore he takes his batting position in a close, or short, spread. Joe DiMaggio had just about the widest of all spreads and his stride was one of the shortest. But the
The stances on these two pages are of a left-handed hitter. Most major-league batters use the closed stance and the parallel stance. There are very few who resort to the open stance. Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Lou Gehrig were members of the parallel stance set. Stan Musial too uses the parallel stance but Ted Williams, acknowledged the finest teacher of batting in the game today, uses the closed stance. In the closed stance only the front foot (the left if a right-handed batter, the right if a left-handed batter) is closer to the plate. In the parallel stance both feet are the same distance from the inside batter's box line closest to the plate.
average batter should not attempt to imitate these great batters in spread and stride unless he feels comfortable doing it. It is not good for the beginning player to take too close a spread because it may
cause a lunge in the stride. The stride should be smooth and quick, therefore the proper spread is most important. In the open stance the front foot is farther away from home plate than the rear foot.
Grip. —Just as in choosing a bat, taking a stance and assuming a spread, comfort dictates, for the most part, just how to grip the bat. Some batters keep their hands together, others may leave a bit of space between the hands when gripping the bat. No matter what type of grip, hands together or apart, the bat is not to be gripped too tightly. By keeping the fingers securely, but not tightly, around the bat and the fingers aligned on the bat (above), the batter can get a better
snap of the wrists when meeting the ball. Grip a bat too tightly and the arm muscles automatically tighten up thus permitting no wrist action. The three types of bat grips (opposite page) are the end grip (above), the modified grip (center), and the choke grip (below). Coaches on the school level will teach the modified grip to just about nine of ten players on their team. This is so because this type of grip offers better con-
trol of the bat and still permits enough power in the swing. In this grip the front, or bottom, hand is held perhaps two inches from the end or knob of the bat. The choke grip is reserved for the player who shows little or no power ability. This does not mean that the "choke hitter" is an easy batter to pitch to. In fact the reverse is usually the case because the hitter who uses the choke grip is very difficult to strike out. He is bound to get a "piece of the ball" only because he is not attempting to overpower the pitch. The choke hitter realizes his shortcomings at the plate, and if he is smart he will learn to compensate for them by developing into a "punch" or "place" hitter. Such a hitter was Phil Rizzuto, the one-time New York Yankee shortstop. Phil was short and light and realized that the only way he could keep his batting average at a respectable figure was to develop into a batter who could place his hits, that is, attempt to hit into areas not protected by fielders. The end grip is reserved for the power hitter, the batter who is placed third, fourth or fifth in the batting order for the purpose of producing the long hit. In this grip the front hand is just about touching the knob of the bat with the back hand in contact and above the front hand. The three types of bat grips can fit the needs of any player. If a player is unsuccessful with the end grip, he should switch to one of the other two grips. Sooner or later he will find that grip which best suits his batting ability.
Many players use their own variation of the three grips. Take Ty Cobb (left). This great hitter, who has the highest lifetime batting average of any player in history, used a semi-modified and unorthodox grip with his back hand about two to three inches above the front hand. Cobb claimed this grip enabled hi m to hit the ball "whe re it wa s pitched." By this he meant that he could hit an outside pitch to left field, an inside pitch to right field and a pitch over the plate through the center of the diamond. But there was only one Cobb. Do not imitate him unless, of course, you feel comfortable in such an unorthodox grip.
Johny Evers (right), the light -hitting infielder of the Chicago Cubs of some half-century ago, typified many of the choke hitters of his day. In those days the baseball was less lively and many of the hitters of that era gripped their bat in almost similar fashion to the Evers choke grip.
Swing.-Ted Williams typifies power sight is rated perfect and his stride, swing
and the "born" hitter. His grip, the grip, is powerful and certain. His eyeend and follow-through are all in perfect synchronization and Coordination
Once the batter feels relaxed and confident with the proper bat, comfortable stance and satisfactory grip, he is ready to challenge the pitcher. Just where the bat is held while awaiting the pitcher's delivery is again a matter of choice. This batter likes to hold his bat high and at a slight angle. He says it "feels good" from this position. He also is using the end grip. His arms are away from his body in order to give him freedom in his swing; his hips and shoulders are pulled back ever so slightly with the weight of his body distributed evenly on both feet. Notice that his shoulders are square, eyes intently on just one player in the ball park—the pitcher. That's his "enemy" for the moment and he is giving him 100 per cent attention.
The pi t c he r i s no w a t t he t o p o f his windup and the batter has started to shift his weight. From an even distribution of weight on both feet, he is now putting his weight on the back foot, his body angling backward as he prepares to go into his swing.
Once the pitch is on its way the batter starts to shift some of his weight forward to his upraised front foot. He is going forward easily and gracefully.
The ball is now almost to the plate and the batter's front foot has just about settled back to the ground. The front leg is braced and the hips and shoulders are about to pivot.
The batter is now in half-pivot as he
The batter is now in half-pivot as he continues his swing with the front arm guiding the swing through the arc. The power comes from the back arm which the batter is keeping away from the body. Notice that the head is steady, the eyes following the pitch until contact is made.
Contact has been made with the ball and the hands have moved in front of the body as the back foot pivots toward the pitcher, the toe digging into the turf. All of the foot power is now in the front foot and the wrist snap is evident as the batter’s wrists have rolled over on impact with the ball.
The right hip has pivoted with the swing to the outside at the end of the follow-through. The bat is starting an upward arc, but don't be fooled by it. This does not mean that the batter has "uppercutted" the ball, but indicates that his follow-through is not a perfect arc.
End of the follow-through, rear toe still dug into the turf, front foot flat and pointed toward the pitcher.
A front view of the follow-through after contact has been made. This hitter is a good batter because he strides easily and, unlike inexperienced batters, does not transfer his weight too soon from back foot to front foot. Hitters who bring their weight forward too quickly are
easily fooled on curve balls. The batter who can hold up his stride until the pitch is almost on him, will soon learn to hit the ball to all fields. Many young players hit the ball too early or too late, all because their timing and stride are not in coordination.
When breaking away from home plate after contact has been made with the ball, the right-handed batter steps out with his rear, or right, foot. The lefthanded batter will step off with his left foot. Try it yourself. After you followthrough notice that your front foot is im-
mobile. It's almost defying the law of locomotion to attempt to run to first base by stepping out first with your front foot since all your weight should be on it once you have completed the followthrough. This batter starts to run in a semi-crouched position.
The Master himself, Mr. Williams. His grip, stance, stride, timing, are all in perfect coordination. Ted's wide, parallel stance (opposite page) is menacing as
his bat is in the ready position, weight
perfectly balanced as he awaits the pitch. The wrist action of Williams is said to be one of his two secrets to his outstanding success as a hitter. (His sharp eyesight is his other extraordinary virtue.) This close-up of his wrist action, (page 40), demonstrates just how he rolls his wrists over after the bat meets the ball. Follow-through of the swing (left) shows Ted's short stride from his wide stance. Joe DiMaggio, too, took a wide stance and used a short stride. The mighty Williams (below) has swung and missed, but his form and follow-through are letter-perfect. He has rhythm and grace in his swing and looks like a picture hitter. Williams has the highest lifetime batting average among today's players and is indeed one of the great hitters of all time.
Just a shade behind Williams in our present generation has been Stan Musial. The famous St. Louis Cardinal player started his professional career as a minorleague pitcher. A sore arm ended his pitching days and, fortunately for baseball, he decided to try the outfield. Musial's batting stance (right) is perhaps unlike anything ever seen on a diamond. He plants his feet close together and bends his knees, his right knee bent back in peculiar manner. His body is so twisted that it sometimes seems his back is turned toward the pitcher. When he is ready to hit he seems to suddenly uncoil — his right leg moves forward in a long stride (opposite page, above), his weight is shifted to his right foot (center) as his left instep digs into the ground. But when he meets the ball (below) it usually manages to land safely. Musial, when asked to explain his phenomenal hitting success, replies: "Know the strike zone." By this he means that the young player should swing at pitches which are in the strike zone. Watch some of your teammates at the bat and you'll notice how many may swing at a pitch that may be a foot high or a foot wide.
Musial believes that a batter should approach the plate with a general idea of just what he intends to do. He says that if the pitcher has been throwing outside to him, he'll wait for the pitch he thinks he can hit to left field. If he feels he can pull the ball on a certain pitcher, then he'll attempt to drive the pitch to right field. Ty Cobb would agree.
Slugging Willie Mays at the plate (below) is not a welcome sight for any pitcher. Willie is one of those fellows who takes a short stride from his rather wide stance, therefore he can wait until the last moment before making contact with the pitch. Mays transfers his weight from back to front foot by lifting his left leg slightly before he strides forward. He does not hold his bat as high as Musial or Williams, but neither does he hold it low. Willie has a tendency to overswing on occasions —as do all batters, good and
average — and goes through discouraging periods when everything he hits goes up in the air or harmlessly to the ground. Overswinging is simply swinging too early. This results in the loss of a smooth, rhythmic swing. When Willie is meeting the ball properly, with bat level and at the proper time, he's a rough man to retire. Like most good swingers, Willie is a line-drive hitter and his fine power and superlative speed on the bases make him an extrabase threat every time he steps to the plate in any park.
The level Mays swing (above) means he has connected solidly. Now the element of luck enters. Most line drives, to land safely, must fly through infield holes. The consistent line-drive hitter will usually find that his drives will land safely — when hit on the line — more times than not. Mays (right) at the finish of his swing, shows how his front foot has moved toward left field. He has just lashed out at an inside pitch but only succeeded in raising a foul fly because he uppercutted the ball which was belt high.
Baseball people say that graceful Al Kaline (left) is one of the finest of all line-drive hitters. Al, who won a batting title before he was twenty-one years old, has the same wide stance and short stride of all good hitters. He, too, holds his bat lower than Williams or Musial and crouches only at his waist. His back knee is stiff as he bends his front knee slightly.
Kaline's swing from his parallel stance (right) is in the perfect 360° arc as advocated by the game's technicians. His forward arm guides the swing through the arc as his back arm supplies the power for the swing. Notice how his head is held—firm and steady. His wrists are starting to roll as the bat is about to meet the ball.
Al's wrists have rolled over, the right one rolling upward as the left one rolls downward. His right heel is raised as his instep digs into the ground and the weight of his body has already been transferred to his front foot.
The batter who must bunt because the situation demands this type of play should get into the batter's box and assume the bunt position immediately. Yet there are some coaches who do not advise this, and they insist that the batter stand at the plate in his normal stance, not indicating to the pitcher that he has been ordered to bunt. The batter who is instructed not to alert the defense to the bunt will assume his normal stance (below) but keep his hands a bit looser on the handle of the bat. This is because he will soon have to slide his back, or right, hand along the bat to get his hands in position to bunt the pitch. To pivot into the bunt position the batter can push off with the front foot
Bunting. — Too many players ignore this important phase of batting. The bunt is an excellent weapon, when used properly, and there is no reason why every player can not learn to execute the bunt in the proper manner. There are two types of bunts, the sacrifice and the drag, or push. The sacrifice bunt is well named. It means that the batter "sacrifices" himself for the good of the team. After all, it is his sacrifice bunt which is used to advance the runner, or runners, an extra base. Many coaches advance the theory that the batter should never "tip" his hand as to when he's going to bunt (above). However, in some situations the sacrifice bunt is a necessity, and there is no need for the batter to "hide" his intentions.
while he pivots on the toe of the rear foot (below). Another method of pivoting to get into the bunt position is to swing around on the heel of the front foot while pushing off the back foot (right). Also, depending upon the batter's natural stance, it may become necessary to move both feet, stepping forward with the back foot and moving the foot parallel. Just which position to assume is again a matter of comfort and stance. The back hand slides up on the bat, toward the "fat" part of the bat, as the pivot is being made with the bottom hand controlling the bat. Body is crouched slightly with the weight evenly distributed on both feet. Keep the bat parallel to the ground, arms relaxed and away from the body. Important. Do not thrust the bat for -
ward to meet the pitch. Just keep the bat in position and merely allow the ball to hit the bat, directing the bat in the direction that the bunt is to be pushed. When bunting for a base hit, whether using the "drag" bunt or "push" bunt, the main weapon is surprise. For this type of bunt, the batter must stand in his natural stance when in the batter's box and, by no means, allow the defense to know what is in his mind. Do not confuse the drag bunt and push bunt as two different types of bunts. The drag bunt for a base hit is executed by a left-handed batter, the push bunt is attempted by a right-handed batter. In dragging a bunt, the left-handed batter merely steps off with his front foot while breaking toward first base as the bat meets the ball. Thus,
he is "dragging" the ball while starting his running motion toward first base. The drag bunt should go to the pitcher's left, hit hard enough to get by the pitcher, slow enough so that the second or first baseman cannot come over in time to make a play at first base on the batter. The push bunt by the right-handed batter is exactly that. The batter "pushes" the ball as his bat comes in contact with it. The push of the bunt is directed toward the same spot as the drag buntto the left of the pitcher, pushed hard enough to get by him, slow enough so that the same infielders can not make a
play at first base. Musial doesn't bunt much but, as he says, "If I have to put the ball down, I can do it and put it where I want it." Musial agrees that bunting is a simple act, especially when bunting to advance a base-runner. He's surprised that so many batters find it difficult to lay down a bunt. Stan's bunting technique is sound. "When sacrificing," he says, "square around and get a real good look at the ball. Use the rear hand to grip the bat loosely and use the forward hand to direct the bunt."
The left-handed batter is about to surprise with a drag bunt. He faces the pitcher in hitting position, not tipping off what he's going to do.
Up moves his back hand as the pitch nears him. His front foot pivots in the direction of the pitcher as he keeps his eyes on the ball.
He starts to level his bat as the ball is almost up to him. He begins to go into a slight crouch, ready to move toward first base after meeting the ball.
Contact, and his body is already swung toward first base. His left hand is bringing the bat around in order to drag the ball in the direction he wants.
The ball is on its way back to the infield as the batter starts to bring his back foot over in front of his front foot. Even when bunting, the rear foot is the first foot that moves toward first base.
Off to first as the bunt appears to be going toward the left side of the diamond. It seems as if his body is off-balance as it leans toward first base, but he is only getting a flying start toward first.
Now in full stride, the batter is in full flight. His rear foot has already hit the ground and he has moved away nicely from the plate.
The problem: Will he beat out the bunt? Only if it's placed in that area where the third baseman and pitcher are unable to get it in time to make a throw. The catcher seems out of the play because he hasn't made an effort to field it.
The right-hander who is going to push a bunt stands at the plate without letting anybody know just what's in his mind. Feet are spread, bat held high and in the ready-to-hit position.
Here comes the pitch and the batter starts to slide both hands up the bat as his body begins to go into a crouch. Notice that he's starting to move his rear foot by raising up on his toes. Grip is now firm on bat as his right foot moves backwards.
He has made up his mind to "push" the ball and the pitch is to his liking as he brings his shoulder and head closer to the plate.
He crouches even more as he's about to make contact with the pitch. His body weight is now on his front foot and he's ready to move toward first base as soon as his bat hits the ball.
Contact is made squarely on the fat part of the bat as the right foot is about to be raised. At no time has the batter attempted to move the front foot, keeping it in contact with the ground.
The ball is on its way toward the firstbase side of the diamond as the batter now picks his rear foot from the ground, ready to step away from the plate and toward the first base.
The dash from the plate is on as the batter brings his rear foot forward. He raises on the toes of his left foot in order to break quickly down the line.
Now it's a battle between fielders and batter-runner. The batter is now in full flight, getting away from the plate promptly as he hopes the bunt will land too far away from the pitcher and in too far to be reached by the second or first baseman.
The sacrifice bunt presents no problems for No. 51 (right) who is doing everything correctly in his attempt to advance the base-runner. He's making good use of his feet and fingers as he's about to bunt the ball. He has squared around to face the pitcher in order to look closely at the ball. The small end of the bat is held loosely in the fingers of his left hand. This loose grip will help deaden the ball when it drops to the ground. The batter holds the upper part of the bat between his thumb and first finger. This is the orthodox grip even though it looks awkward. The right hand and fingers will do the job of directing
the bunt. The right hand should grip the bat firmly. The bunt d rops (l e ft ) j ust whe re the batter intended. However, the batter is not helping himself get away from the plate as fast as he should. Notice how his head has turned in the direction of the bunt as he follows its course. This is totally unnecessary since he can injure himself by looking one way as he runs another way. No batter need follow the direction of his bunt. Just lay it down and get away from the plate. The bunt is too far away from the catcher and the pitcher (right) is forced to make the play. Also notice how the pitcher, contrary to coaching techniques, is about to make the pick-up with hi s bare hand. 56
Although baseball is a team game — and complete cooperation from every player is necessary for victory — coaches,
players and spectators agree that the most important factor in the success of a team is the pitcher. Many major-league managers have attempted to evaluate just how much pitching means to a team. Their estimates generally run from 70 to 85 per cent. It is not important to accurately gauge the precise percentage of pitching to the success of a team; it is more important for a team to have good pitching. Pitchers come in all sizes and shapes. The perfect physical qualifications for a pitcher are height and weight in equal proportion. Coaches like their pitchers to be about six feet tall and weigh approximately one hundred and seventyfive to two hundred pounds. These physical attributes are desirous, not necessary, and there are school pitchers with excellent records who fail to measure up to either of these physical qualifications. Coaches also like pitchers who can "hum that ball"; that is, the pitcher who throws the ball fast and hard. Yet there are many pitchers of school age who can fool the batters without an overpowering fast ball. Good control, and the ability to get the ball over any part of the plate, will sometimes make up for the lack of a good fast ball. The pitcher who possesses determination and has the temperament and disposition to overlook fielding lapses by his teammates, has won half the battle toward success. Too many young pitchers with excellent promise for the future never develop because they lack an "attitude," the ability to absorb the intangible factors so common in every game.
The pitcher who never learns to accept fielding and mental errors as part of the game will not advance too far. He may be the perfect physical specimen as regards height and weight but his own mental attitude may be tougher to conquer than a lineup of the most powerful hitters on any team.
A pitcher must remember that his teammates want to win as badly as he does. He must try to ignore a fumbled grounder, a muffed fly, a wild throw. Errors are part of the game and he must bear in mind that all players make mistakes, just as businessmen, or even members of his own family at home.
The Grip. — There is a definite art involved in gripping and throwing the ball. The ball must be held in the proper position if the pitcher expects to throw it with any accuracy and skill. The index and middle fingers must be on top of the ball, placed across the seams, and the thumb should be on the bottom of the ball. This is the throwing grip for just about every type of pitch.
Many pitchers have made the major leagues without that "good fast ball" and without measuring up to the desired physical standards. No aspiring pitcher should be discouraged if he's small and light by comparison and if he doesn't have the strength in his arm to continually pour the fast ball by the batters. Control, intelligence, courage are also most important attributes.
Proper Position. — Before delivering the ball to the batter the pitcher must assume the proper position on the mound, the position he takes without any runner, or runners, on base. This right-handed pitcher is in proper position to deliver the ball to the plate. The heel of his right foot, the pivot foot, is in contact with the pitching rubber or plate, and his left, or free, foot is to the rear of the pitcher's rubber. Reverse the position of the feet for a left-handed pitcher. The pitcher (left) is relaxed, his eyes straight ahead. He is looking over the batter and waiting for the catcher to give him his signal. The pitching arm can be held at the side or behind the back. As long as the pitcher feels comfortable, it makes little difference just where he places his free arm. Once the pitcher receives the signal from the catcher and nods in agreement, he is ready to start the first phase of his delivery — the windup. Windup. — The windup is merely getting the pitching arm loosened by swinging the arms backward and then bringing them forward. Just how many times the arms are swung backward and brought forward is a matter of individual taste. Some major-league pitchers, notably the Yankees' Bob Turley, have developed a "no-windup" delivery, which is merely bringing the arms to a chest position and then delivering the pitch to the plate. Other pitchers go through an elaborate windup. They'll swing their arms back and forth perhaps three or four
times before bringing them overhead in the stretch position, preparatory to delivering the ball. This type of windup is often used by the left-handed Warren Spahn of the Braves (below), who has one of the most formful and stylish deliveries in all of baseball. A pitcher is at the conclusion of his windup when his arms are over his head
with his two hands together. This is known as the stretch position. At this point he adjusts his fingers around the ball for the pitch he is to throw to the batter. Leg Lift. — The body of the pitcher is now in position to go into the pitch. The leg lift, the next phase of the delivery, is now about to get underway. The pitch-
ing a rm i s brought back as far a s possible. The right hip pivots to the right and, as the body bends back, the leg is lifted high. However, do not lift the leg merely for the sake of lifting the leg. If the pitcher finds himself in an uncomfortable position because his leg is lifted too high, he should then lift the leg to the height he feels most comfortable in. Slender Jim Bunning (opposite page) displays good leg lift form as he brings his knee almost to his chest. Spahn brings his knee just below his belt line when going to the top of his stretch. Bunning's leg lift is much higher. Some pitchers will have a more exaggerated leg lift when pitching with the bases empty. The pitcher who attempts the high leg lift, such as Bunning, with runners on base, will soon find the runners stealing bases in wholesale lots. Once the pitcher starts to bring his front foot upward, the runner can start on his way to the next base. With runners on base, it is advisable to have the pitcher lift his leg, stretch, and deliver in one complete motion. The leg lift is important because it helps the pitcher bring his body and pitching arm forward. Also, the upraised leg makes it somewhat difficult for the batter to follow the ball. The smart pitcher can use his leg to obscure the batter's vision.
Striding. — Once the leg has been lifted the pitcher is in proper position to stride forward. The stride is very important, and the proper stride can be the key to good control. Overstriding can cause the pitcher to miss the plate with his pitches. Just how long a stride a pitcher should take depends entirely upon himself. Some pitchers feel more relaxed and comfortable by taking a short, or normal, stride. Others can comfortably take a huge giant step as a stride and still maintain their comfort and control. However, the longest possible stride usually proves most advantageous because the pitcher
will be that much closer to the batter when he delivers the ball, and he will be able to get more power and speed in his pitch. The stride simply is bringing the left foot forward as the pitching arm is coming around and down. The body, too, will come forward as the pitcher is striding. If the stride forward and motion of the pitching arm and movement of the body are in synchronization, the pitcher is in perfect form (above) to release the ball. Here Spahn (left) has completed his leg lift and is bringing his front foot forward as he's approaching his stride.
Notice the similarity in positions between this high school pitcher and the Braves' Lew Burdette. Both have completed their strides and are in the middle of their body pivots. The follow-through occurs when the hips have twisted around, the ball has been released, the pitching arm has swung down and across the body and the pivot foot has been raised from the rubber and brought to a forward position almost parallel with the front foot. That's exactly what Spahn (opposite page) has done. The technique of throwing the ball is fairly simple. Pitchers you see on television, or at your major-league or minorleague parks, will throw with three types of motions: straight overhand, threequarter or sidearm. It is not good to imitate your favorite pitcher's motion. Just as a batter takes his most comfortable and relaxed stance in the batter's box, so must a pitcher throw with the motion which gives him the greatest measure of freedom and comfort. Most of us throw a ball with a three-quarter motion. It is the most natural and least wearing on the arm. Sometimes it is best to use the threequarter motion as a basic delivery and then develop the overhand and sidearm motions. Coordination in all movements of the follow-through is of prime importance. The ball should not be released at just any time, or in any stage of the followthrough. To ensure good control, it is best to release the ball almost a split second after the front foot touches the ground. This, too, is a matter of individ-
ual taste and the pitcher must determine, through constant practice, just when he is most effective at releasing the ball. The pitcher who constantly gets the ball too high may discover that he's releasing the ball too soon. And the lowball pitcher may find out that he's holding the ball too long before finally releasing it. Front and side views of the position after the pitch has been completed. Spahn's feet are spread wide, eyes straight ahead to follow the pitch, and in good fielding position. This side view of the high school pitcher also indicates the accepted fielding form after delivery of the ball. The pitcher's feet are parallel, body bent forward just prior to bringing the glove in front of his body so that he may get into position to field any ball hit back toward him. Many pitchers, even major-leaguers, never actually find themselves in proper fielding position after finishing their follow-through. This is inexcusable because the proper follow-through motion should find the pitcher facing the batter, both feet planted solidly on the ground and almost parallel. Young pitchers sometimes hesitate in bringing their body and rear leg forward after delivering the pitch. This means they are constantly off-balance and not able to play a ball which may be batted back to either side of them. You will find that baseball's better fielding pitchers are those who bring their rear foot forward and remain in crouched position, anticipating a ball being batted toward them. Some pitchers of school age are so in-
tent at delivering the ball that they get into the habit of waiting on the mound with their rear foot in the air and behind their body, as they pose in sideways fashion. This is dangerous, especially if any line drives are hit back toward the mound. If you want to be a pitcher, concentrate on all the techniques of pitching. Smart batters can bunt a poor fielding pitcher straight to the showers. A pitcher who leans to the right after his follow-through will be unable to play anything hit to his left. The same principle applies to the pitcher who has a tendency to throw his body to the left. The pitcher will lose time fielding bunts hit in front or to the side of him.
The pitcher takes a different stance when there is a runner, or runners, on base. The pitcher, if he wants to keep the runner from advancing, cannot take his windup and therefore is required to pitch from the set position. A pitcher should not use a windup when there are runners on first base, second base, first and second base, or first and third base. The situation determines whether to use a windup when runners occupy second and third base, third base, or when the bases are full.
The pitcher (above) here assumes the proper stance with a runner, or runners, on base. The pivot foot is placed in front of the pitcher's slab, or rubber, contact with it being made with the side of the foot. The body faces third base, the back of the body in direct line with third base.
Since a windup from this position will enable the runner to easily steal a base, the pitcher must use a different motion if he wants to keep the runner close to the base. He can do this by keeping his arms at chest level (left) and may either throw to a base to keep the runner close, or deliver the pitch to the plate.
Many pitchers will not go into the stretch position, that is they will not bring their arms overhead with a runner on base. Instead they will immediately bring their arms to their chest, ball well hidden. Comfort again dictates just where the pitcher wants to hold his arms if he doesn't take his stretch. Some feel more comfortable by keeping their arms at belt level. Others feel more relaxed by holding their arms below their belt. Comfort and relaxation determine the position of the arms.
Rear view (above) of the pitcher about to go into the stretch position with runners on base.
Before getting into the set position the pitcher keeps his pivot foot clear of the pitcher's slab (right) while taking the signal from his catcher, in the straddle position. Although he is showing his grip on the ball to the runner on first, this does not mean he is tipping off his pitch to the runner. The pitcher will not assume his final grip on the ball until he is ready to release it.
Burdette, in action, goes through all the movements of pitching with a man on base (above). First: The weight is shifted to the pivot foot and the shove -off from that foot. Notice how his arms are in front of him, his leg lifted just below belt level. Second: the stride, arm cocked backward, ready to throw (above). Burdette, in placing his front foot down following his stride, first plants his left heel into the ground before bringing the rest of that foot forward. This is not the accepted technique, but let's not argue with Burdette's record.
Fourth: the follow-through (above). He wastes no time bringing that rear foot forward to complete the followthrough and get into proper position. Burdette is one pitcher who is never offbalance after completing his pitch.
Third: release of the ball (above). Lew releases the ball as his front foot is perfectly balanced, facing the batter. His arm, shoulder and body have all come forward with the ball's release.
Bunning, in action, is similar except that he is delivering in a sidearm motion and he has brought his pitching arm back a bit farther. Jim has one of the longest strides in baseball only because he's tall and can take more than the normal pitching stride. Although Bunning is highly regarded as a good fast ball and curve ball pitcher, he has a tendency to "lean" after his follow-through. Notice (opposite page) how his body leans to the right as his pitch is on the way to the batter. As a result, Jim sometimes has trouble fielding little bouncers, or bunts, hit to his left.
Fast Ball. — The fast ball is the "bread and butter" pitch, and any young pitcher should learn the proper gri p for the fast ball before he attempts to learn the other grips. Coaches maintain that a pitcher who has mastered the fast ball can be taught, with a minium of effort, how to throw the curve ball and change of pace. To grip the fast ball, it is best to place the first two fingers on top of the seams and across their widest part. Keep the thumb underneath (above). Another fast
ball grip is to place the first two fingers across the narrow part of the seams, thumb in the same underneath position. On just what part of the seams to place the first two fingers is relatively unimportant. This depends upon the individual pitcher who should experiment with both grips before settling on one. One grip may offer better control of the fast ball; the other may enable the pitcher to get more speed in his pitch. The ball should be held "deep" in the palm of the hand, grasped firmly but not clenched tightly.
To release the fast ball, allow it to come off the ends of the top two fingers. Notice that on release the ball leaves the second finger last, and this is the finger that determines the rotation of the ball on its way to the plate. The wrist should be snapped as the ball is released off the second finger (above). A straight overhand pitcher with good power will have a slight rise, or hop, to his fast ball because the ball is rotating upward on its release. The pitcher with
a three-quarter motion will have a very slight sideward hop on the ball, the direction of the hop depending upon whether he is right-or left-handed. The hop follows the same direction as the pitching arm (right for a right-hander, left for a left-hander). A fast ball pitch delivered in a sidearm motion will have a pronounced hop to the side since the ball is rotated sideward at the moment of its release from the second finger.
Curve Ball. — The curve ball is thrown with the same motion; in fact all pitches should be thrown with the same motion so that the batter will be unable to determine just what pitch is coming up. The curve (below), however, is held tighter, and more in the fingers. It is released between the thumb and the first finger. There is also a definite downward snap of the wrist on release. As the arm comes down and the ball is about to be released, the wrist is turned outward with a pronounced snap. This provides the rotation that causes
the ball to curve, or break. Change of Pace. — The change of pace, or changeup, is held with the same grip as the fast ball and thrown, of course, with the same motion. The changeup has been called by some major-leaguers as the best pitch in baseball because it keeps the batters off stride. The ball is held loosely by the first two fingers. They must be kept relaxed and straight when releasing the ball, and the release is off the two fingers, not just off the second finger, as in the release of the fast ball.
Many refer to the change as a slow ball, or slow curve. Actually, a change of pace is any pitch that does not travel toward the batter at the pitcher's normal rate of speed. Many pitchers develop three or four types of speeds, or changeups, and these pitchers are quite effective. Such a craftsman was Sal Maglie, who used a slow curve as his main changeup pitch. Preacher Roe, the old Dodger left-hander, was another who had about three or four varying types of speeds. And Burdette and Spahn continue to fool batters with their different grades of speeds.
Other Pitches. — A pitch gaining in popularity among major-league pitchers is the slider (below). Some managers and pitchers who refuse to add the slider to their repertoire, disclaim the slider by calling it a "nickle curve." And that's exactly what the slider is, a sort of simulated fast-curve ball. It has neither the speed of the normal fast ball nor the break of the normal curve. But it helps to upset the batter's timing and concentration, and is a good pitch to throw every so often. To be effective the slider must be
thrown with an overhand motion. The ball is released off the tip of the first finger. The second finger should be held loosely on the ball. The ball is delivered with the wrist fairly stiff. Pitchers who are unable to relax their pitching wrist will have a natural slider. The slider is not recommended until the pitcher of school age has mastered the art of throwing the curve. One of the most difficult of all pitches, because of the unnatural action involved, is the screwball. Hall-of-Famer Carl Hubbell was the most famous exponent
of the screwball. Hubbell, in fact, threw this pitch so consistently that it later affected the natural swing of his left arm when walking. Hubbell's left palm now turns outward, which is exactly how the palm is turned in delivery. The screwball grip (above) is the same as the fast ball. But the back of the hand is turned inward as the pitcher brings his arm forward, ready to deliver the ball. The ball is released between the second and third fingers, the thumb pushing the ball outward. The screw ball has the reverse effect of a curve. Thrown by a
right-handed pitcher it breaks in to a right-handed batter. Because of the unnatural delivery involved this pitch is not recommended for the young pitcher. It is best to wait until full physical maturity before attempting it. The knuckle ball (above) is about the most difficult of all pitches to control. There is no problem involved in gripping, or throwing, this pitch but rare is the pitcher — catcher and batter, as well — who knows just where the ball will finally end up.
This pitch usually breaks in the same direction as an ordinary curve. However, because the knuckle ball has only the slightest rotation on its way to the batter, air pressures and wind currents can cause the ball to take varying dips and breaks as it approaches the batter. There is no fundamental grip for the knuckle ball. Some pitchers place only the first joint of the first finger on the ball. Others grip it with the first joint of the first and second fingers, and there are some pitchers who like to use their first three fingers. The finger joints are placed
on the smooth surface of the ball, not touching the seams, and the nails should be flat against the ball. The thumb is placed alongside of the seams at their narrowest part. The ball, on release, slides off the fingernails as the wrist is snapped. Some knuckle ball pitchers do not throw a knuckle ball, but a fingernail ball. The fingernail ball acts in the same fashion as the knuckle ball; however, it is gripped differently, held with stiffïer wrist and rotates a bit more than the knuckle ball. To grip the fingernail pitch press the fingernails of the first two fingers against the smooth side of the ball, and the thumb along the seams at their narrowest part. The rotation of the fingernail ball is slightly more active. Neither pitch is recommended for the
beginning pitcher. Both these pitches are extremely difficult to master and should only be attempted once the pitcher feels he is mature enough to add another pitch to his basic repertoire. Most pitchers have pet pitches. Hoyt Wilhelm (above) is an exponent of the knuckle ball. Billy Pierce is a curve ball artist. Johnny Podres has one of the best of change-of-pace pitches. Camilo Pascual (opposite page) has a fast ball that fairly crackles as it explodes into the mitt of his catcher. Ruben Gomez (left) is a master of the screwball, and Early Wynn throws a slider, knuckle ball,
curve and fast ball with equal skill. These pitchers did not come by these pitches overnight. They worked hard and long to perfect the grip which enables them to throw these pitches, and all of them but Wilhelm will confess that they
first learned to throw the fast ball before any other pitch. Wilhelm, however, admits "as a kid I never remember throwing anything but a knuckle ball." As previously mentioned, this is not recommended.
A team that has players who can throw and catch fly balls and grounders better than its opponents, and can come up with the clutch fielding play, is going to be hard to beat. The team that has the most agile fielders — those players who have fast reflexes and can change direction in a split second — will also have the better fielders. Thus, if the pitching and batting of the two opposing teams are of equal strength, the better fielding team will then be more formidable. Good fielders, like good hitters or pitchers, do not require special physical qualifications. However, the player with the sharper reflex action will usually develop into a better fielder in a shorter space of time than a player of normal reflexes. This does not mean that the player of average reflex action cannot become a quality fielder. The player of normal reflex should not be discouraged because he sees other players who seem superior to him as fielders. Better reflex action can be obtained by constant practice and proper conditioning of the body. By leaping, twisting and lunging for grounders, fly balls and throws, the fielder of normal reflexes will soon sharpen his reflex action and will in time work himself into a better than acceptable fielder. Fielding in reflex action means the player performs his movements without thinking about them. His movements become natural and graceful and he is able to twist his body in any direction. Ground balls take many unexpected
bounces; fly balls get caught in wind currents and may take sudden drops or carry farther than the fielder anticipated. The good fielder can adjust himself to these sudden hops and changes of ball direction. Choosing a Position. — In choosing a position a player should select one he thinks he can play best; then concentrate on learning all the techniques involved in playing that position. Do not pick a position because your favorite majorleaguer plays it. That's not mature reasoning and you will only hurt your chances of making the team if you can play better at another position. Try to analyze your strong and weak points and then try out for that position where you can fit in, and also, at the same time, convince the coach that you are the best candidate for that specific fielding spot. A player who is below average height and who can field any position equally well, should not try out at first base. It's common sense that if you can catch a grounder while stationed at second base, shortstop, third base, just as well as at first base, you should concentrate on trying out for any of the latter three positions. This is because you would not be able to use your limited height to any advantage if you tried out as a first baseman. A first baseman must stretch high for high throws and well into the diamond for low throws. The coach would be more inclined to use a fielder at that position who has more height and reach than a player of limited height. Infielders' Stance. — There is a basic fielding stance for all infielders.
This infielder has good stance: his body is in a squat position, bent at the waist, knees turned out. His arms and hands are between his knees, enabling him to touch the ground without any
undue strain. From this position, he is able to field a ball that hugs the ground, and he is in proper position to straighten up and grab a ball that may take a sudden bounce upward.
Coaches have conflicting ideas on just how an infielder should position his body when fielding ground balls. Some coaches recommend that the infielder take the grounder on his throwing side since there is a saving of a split second in shifting the ball from the front of the body to the throwing arm. Others insist that the fielder get squarely in front of the grounder. The latter method is safer and also furnishes the infielder with an opportunity to recover in time and nail the batter, if he does fumble the ball. Playing a ball on the side can be dangerous. If the ball is missed, it rolls out into the field and there is no chance to recover and make the out. The infielder's position before the ready position is basic. His legs are spread comfortably, feet parallel, or in
the position he finds most relaxing. Some infielders station their right foot slightly to the rear of their left foot. Others swing their bodies halfway to the right, or to the left, depending upon the situation, the type of batter, the number of runners on base, etc. Hips and knees are slightly bent, hands placed on the knees, although this depends upon personal comfort. Some infielders like to keep their hands just hanging in front of their body. As the ball is on its way to the plate, the weight of the body shifts forward slightly to the balls of the feet, eyes kept on the ball at all times. Place the arms and hands to the front of the body, always anticipating a grounder coming your way. From this position the infielder is ready to move in and out, left and right.
Ground Balls. — A sharply hit grounder, one that hugs the ground on its direct course to an infielder, can be handled by dropping to one knee, the right one if a right-handed thrower, using the knee as a barrier if the ball is not fielded cleanly. This method of fielding a ground ball is recommended only if the ball is hit hard and low enough, and if the fielder knows that he has the time to get down on his knee, straighten up and still throw out the batter. A medium-hit ground ball that hugs
the ground should not be fielded on one knee. This type of grounder is fielded with the body low to the ground, hands close together, palms turned outward. Although the position (below) of this infielder taking the ground ball below his waist is technically correct, he would make the play a bit easier if he kept his right foot back slightly instead of having both feet parallel. By keeping the right foot back a trifle, the infielder is already in proper position to straighten up when he throws.
This infielder (above) is starting to his right to field a grounder hit in that direction. He pivots off the ball of his left foot and steps out with his right foot. Notice how the body is kept low and in bent position. The infielder then crosses over with his left foot as he approaches the grounder. This infielder straightened up (right) somewhat since he thought the grounder would take a sudden hop. Since the grounder didn't bounce high, the fielder went low again and stopped squarely in front of the ball. The stop is made by sliding the inside edge of the right foot out, the spikes digging into the ground to brace the right leg. It
wasn't necessary for this fielder to dig his spikes into the ground because he arrived in sufficient time to get his body in front of the ball (below). Shortstop Johnny Logan (right) illustrates the proper brace preparatory to throwing the ball after picking it up. The front spikes of his right leg are dug into the turf and his footing is certain as he readies his throw to the base. On a ground ball hit to the left of the infielder, he pivots in that direction on the ball of the right foot. He steps off with the left foot, the upper part of the body again kept low, bent at the waist. The ball is fielded "off" the left foot, using the right foot as a brace. Once the ball is in the glove, he brings the left foot forward, in the direction of the throw. Many infielders after catching up to a ball hit to the left will step back to throw. This is not recommended for the
player with average body balance. Stepping back will place the body off balance and may result in a wild throw.
A ground ball hit very slowly must be played only one way: quickly. The fielder must come charging in at full speed. A right-hander fields the ball in front of his right foot, upper body bent low (left). If the play at first is to be "bang-bang" (ball and runner arriving simultaneously), the fielder cannot waste a moment. He picks up the ball in his throwing hand (opposite page) and makes the throw underhand. Coaches, however, do not encourage a pick-up with the bare hand only. But there are times when a bare hand pick-up is the only way to play the ball if the out is to be made.
This major-leaguer (Ted Lepcio, right) has just fielded a sharply-hit grounder to his left. If he has time, he will step forward with his right foot and then with his left foot before throwing. However, he can also place his right foot back on the ground, rear back and throw.
Outfield Play. — An outfielder although not required to make as many stops, turns and changes of direction as an infielder, must still be alert enough to know just where the ball will drop. A good sense o£ fly judgment is most important to an outfielder. Some outfielders, once a ball is hit, can judge immediately if they have to go in or out in order to reach it. The good out-
fielder doesn't commit himself until he's certain in which direction and how far the ball has been hit. Wind direction is important in judging the flight of a fly ball. An outfielder soon learns by the way the wind is blowing just how the ball will carry. With the wind at his back, he will soon know that a fly ball will tend to "hang" in the air and not "carry." Conversely, when
the wind is blowing toward him the outfielder must play a deeper position and anticipate that the ball will carry a bit further. Many coaches are insistent that their outfielders, when going back for a fly ball, turn their body diagonally backward—as this outfielder (below left) — so that the wind is at their back. The wind is blowing from the left of this outfielder, therefore he makes his first step diagonally backward with his right foot. If the wind blows from the right, the first diagonal backward step is with the left foot. The second backward step is a crossover step with the left foot. This outfielder (below right) has moved into position with just two steps, and is about to settle under the ball before making the catch. When the wind blows directly at the outfielder, he must play the ball differ-
ently. The outfielder facing the wind then (if right-handed) steps back first with his left foot. From this position he can then look over his right shoulder in order to follow the flight of the ball. The left-handed outfielder takes his first backward step with his right foot and follows the flight of the ball over his left shoulder. When running for a fly, the outfielder keeps his arms in normal running position. He should not reach for the ball until the last moment. Reaching for the ball while still some strides away from catching it will slow up the outfielder and cut down his chances of making the catch. This outfielder (opposite page) has settled under the fly as it is coming down. His arms are spread normally, one foot to the rear of the other. Some
outfielders catch fly balls with their feet parallel, others like to keep one foot forward. This is a matter of individual
preference. However, (above) is the correct stance if the outfielder must make a throw to a base after the catch.
Fly Balls. — Fly balls present a different problem for infielders. An infielder catches a fly ball as he faces home plate, or with his back turned to the infield. Infielders should keep in mind that an infield fly rotates away from home plate. Thus when an infielder plays a fly while facing the plate, he must play the ball in front of him in order to allow for the ball rotating still further toward the outfield. However, a wind blowing toward home plate will offset the rotation of the ball and the infielder must then position himself directly under the fly ball. Infielders, when going back toward the outfield to play a fly, should turn their back to the plate, dash out into position and attempt to catch the ball while their body is turned halfway. If possible, try not to play the ball over your shoulder. Most outfield catches are made with palms turned upward, the elbows in front of the body. But some flies are caught — especially when the outfielder is forced to move in on the ball —with the palms facing forward, fingers pointed toward the ground. When catching a fly ball with palms facing forward, the outfielder extends his forearms and keeps the little fingers of both hands close together (above). When catching a fly ball with palms turned upward and fingers also pointed upward, the outfielder keeps the thumbs of both hands close together (below) and forearms extended upward. This outfielder seems to be getting in position to catch a line drive that is coming at him chest high.
The Throw. — All fielders use the same basic throwing grip. The proper grip helps control the direction of the throw and, whenever possible, this is how the ball should be held for every throw. Grasp the ball with the thumb underneath and the first two fingers, spread slightly, on top. It is a matter of individual preference as to whether the top fingers are placed over the seams at their widest or narrowest part. Most fielders throw overhand. This is because it is a natural movement as more throws are made from an upright position. There will be situations when a
fielder will have to throw sidearm or underhand. In the overhand throw the right-hander shifts his weight to his pivot foot, stretches arm and body backward and moves his front foot forward. At the same time, he starts to bring his throwing arm over his shoulder. The ball is released off the first two fingers and an effort should be made to keep the wrist from rotating. A wrist that rotates, or snaps, as the ball is being released, will cause the ball to curve. It is dangerous to throw curve balls when throwing the ball from one fielder to another.
The player who sees more of the game and its developing situations is the catcher. From his position behind the plate the catcher, as the signal-caller for all his pitcher's pitches, observes the opponents' base-line coaches, batter, base-runner, his own infield and outfield, and, most important, the progress of his team's pitcher. Since it is the catcher who is calling the pitches, he is the most logical choice for the coach, or manager, to turn to when it seems that the pitcher is losing his "stuff." How's his fast ball? Is it still hopping? Why is the curve "hanging"? Why can't he get the low ball over the knees? . . . These are some of the questions the coach, or manager, may fire at the catcher. The good catcher will be able to supply the correct answers. Qualifications. — All of this proves rather strongly that the catcher must be blessed with quick mental reflexes and the coolness of a detached observer. A slow-thinking catcher unable to keep his pitcher out of sticky situations, or a quick-to-temper catcher unable to contain his emotions, is of little value to his team. Thus the first two requirements of a catcher: (1) baseball intelligence, (2) calm temperament. Strength and size are not necessary ingredients in a catcher's make-up. It's more necessary that he have a superior throwing arm, fast hands and feet. The strong arm is needed to prevent stolen bases; fast hands and feet are vital in
order to shift from one position to another to catch pitches which are inside, outside, high and low. Catchers do not have to come largesize. Because the catching job requires endurance and strength many coaches like to make catchers out of their huskiest players. It is fine if the catcher is smart, fast, adaptable — and still big and strong. But it is incorrect to overlook the average-built player as a potential catcher, especially if he has all the other requirements. Two striking physical catching opposites now in the Baseball Hall of Fame are Ray Schalk and Gabby Hartnett. Both were fast behind the plate with hands and feet; both were smart and even-tempered. However, Schalk was slightly taller than an overgrown bat boy while Hartnett was broad, husky and the picture of brute strength. The catcher, although he may not be the coach or captain, is the one player on the team who must be more aggressive than all others. He is the one who shouts to his teammates, rallies a faltering pitcher and sticks his fist in the air and yells for a display of enthusiasm. Position. — The catcher should take a position a full arm's length from the batter. At this distance he will not interfere with the batter's swing and presents the best target to the pitcher. The stance is determined by comfort, type of pitcher, play situation, etc. A catcher who is uncomfortable in a deep knee bend position should not assume such a stance. Get the one that gives the most comfort but still affords the pitcher a good target at which to throw.
This catcher (below) takes a halfcrouch because he finds it more relaxing. He keeps his feet spread just about the width of home plate. Many coaches keep cautioning their catchers to keep their fingers closed when the pitch is on its way toward the plate. Some catchers, however, feel uncomfortable if they close their fingers while awaiting the pitch. This catcher (right) does and, to prevent any finger injury resulting from a foul tip, he is holding his open hand behind the glove. As soon as the ball strikes the glove he will roll his bare hand over the ball. His hands and arms are relaxed, extended forward, and he likes to keep his left foot forward and his ,right toe dug into the ground. Why? Because he's more comfortable in this stance and position.
The catcher who finds it difficult to keep his fingers open must then catch with them closed. Too many catchers make the mistake of clenching their fist. A glancing tip off a tightly-closed fist can lead to a serious and painful injury. The more relaxed the fist, the less chance for crippling injury. This catcher opposite page, above) has stuck his thumb inside of his first fingers and has made a loose fist with the other fingers. His right leg is also in a relaxed position since there are no runners on base. A catcher, in order to give his back and legs a chance to rest, should take this position as often as possible when the bases are empty.
This major-league receiver (below) is the picture of relaxation as he awaits the pitch. He £eels comfortable with his backside down low, leaning against the back of his legs. He's holding his glove low because that's where he wants the pitch. Some coaches are critical of the catcher who tips off the direction of a pitch. Other managers, however, claim that this is the way to furnish the pitcher with the exact target. Look closely and notice that this catcher has his thumb inside his closed fingers.
Plays at the Plate. — One o£ the more basic plays a catcher may be forced to make is the force-out at the plate. Since no tag is necessary, the catcher need only touch the plate for the simple force.
This catcher (opposite page) is waiting for the throw with his left foot planted on the plate as the throw is coming in on his right side. If the throw comes in on the catcher's left side, he must then plant his right foot on the plate to make the play. A wild throw to the plate on the force play means the catcher will have to leave his plate position. Do not attempt to first play the runner on such a throw. Get the ball first, and then attempt to touch home plate with your foot or the ball. The catcher must have a firm position while awaiting the runner. To protect himself from getting knocked off his feet, he should get his left foot in front and dig the front spikes of his right foot into the ground behind him. This position furnishes balance and support. The tag on a sliding runner is not as
difficult as it looks. On all plays at the plate which involve tagging a runner, the catcher first must face in the direction of the incoming throw. Just where he catches the ball will determine how he makes the tag. This catcher (above left) has blocked out the plate with his wide stance, forcing the runner to slide around him. The good catcher permits the runner to slide into his glove, eliminating the possibility of any injury to the bare hand by the slider's spikes. The sliding play at the plate finds the catcher (above right) blocking the plate with his arm. He will tag the runner on his shin, or upper part of his left foot. The catcher here was forced to take the throw on the first-base side of the plate and then drop to his knees in order to get into position to stop the run from scoring.
Signals. — The catcher "talks" to the pitcher through a set of finger, or hand, signals. These signals tell the pitcher what the catcher wants him to throw. The catcher (opposite page) is flashing "crotch" signals, the most generally used. The two fingers indicate a curve. The catcher flashes his signal on the right side of his crotch. Signals may also be flashed with the thumb and hand, but young catchers should confine themselves to the
finger signals. Throwing to Bases. — Throwing to bases requires the correct shifting of feet. This catcher (above) is about to peg to second base with a right-handed batter at the plate. He has received an outside pitch, has stepped to the right with his right foot, and slightly forward. He will then step forward with his left foot for the throw to second. Throwing to second with a left-hander
at the plate requires a different foot movement. The catcher (right) is now in throwing position after taking the pitch. He has already stepped forward with his left foot and swung his right foot diagonally behind his left, the weight shifted to the rear foot. The catcher (below) is stationed behind a left-handed hitter with a runner on first base. The catcher, anticipating a throw to that base, has placed his feet, right slightly to the rear of the left, so that he may be able to get off a quick throw after receiving the pitch. Do not throw to first from in front of the batter unless the pitch comes in quite wide of the plate. On a pitch away from this batter, the catcher will have to break left with his left foot in order to catch the
ball. He'll then have to come forward with his right foot before stepping in front of the batter with his left foot. It's easy to see that it's less complicated to throw to first base from in back (opposite page) of a left-handed batter. After receiving the pitch over the plate, or on the inside, the catcher then just swings his left foot forward and toward the direction of first. He cocks his arm for the throw, his right foot now way to the rear, the weight of his body on the front foot. The direction of the pitch always determines which foot the catcher will step off with initially when throwing to a base. He steps left on a pitch outside to a left-handed batter and inside to a righthanded batter. He steps right on a pitch inside to a left-handed batter and outside to a right-handed batter. 108
Covering Bunts. — The catcher should attempt to cover all bunts hit in his area. This is an area that extends halfway to the pitcher, and the same distance down either base-line. The catcher, however, does not field all bunts in the same manner. This catcher (right) is taking a rolling bunt hit toward the pitcher. He picks up the ball in front of his left foot, placing the mitt in front of the ball and jamming it into the mitt with his bare hand. He can now straighten up, move his right foot back and throw to any base. His body faces the diamond when fielding this type of bunt. However, if he's forced to move up the third-base line for a bunt, with a throw to be made to first base, he may have to field it with
his back toward the diamond, pivot around and throw to first. A bunted ball that has stopped rolling ma y be fielded with t he ba re ha nd (left). Many coaches do not like to have their catcher play a bunt with his bare hand. Yet, when necessary, the catcher must pick up the bunt with his bare hand if he wants to get the throw off in time. The batter (opposite page) is racing to first base after dropping a bunt which landed exactly midway between the catcher and the pitcher. In such a situation it is safer to permit the catcher to handle the bunt since he is facing the infield after picking up the ball. On this play, it is the catcher's responsibility to shout vocal instructions as to his intentions. "Mine, Mine," tells the pitcher that the catcher will field the bunt. 110
Here is where the catcher's agility and speed afoot is of utmost importance. The catcher who can pounce on bunted balls is, in reality, an extra infielder. Fast reaction to a bunt is a valuable asset and the catcher who can anticipate and execute quickly is a good fielding catcher. None of the movements o£ the catcher in covering a bunt are taken haphazardly. Everything must be done with speed and with no wasted motion. The mask should be flung to the side, far enough away from the catcher so that it will not get
in his way. He must follow the course of the bunt immediately, making certain that he doesn't brush into the first baseman, pitcher or third baseman, if either of them is about to pick up the ball. Thus the catcher should be agile enough to come to a sharp stop if the bunt is to be handled by any of these players. The catcher is the "take-charge" guy on bunts and actually serves as the "quarterback," shouting instructions as to who will pick up the ball and what base it should be thrown to.
Catching Pop-ups. — An infield pop-up, fair or foul, around the plate area can be tricky because of the backward rotation of the descending ball and the wind conditions. This young catcher (above) instinctively removed his mask as soon as the ball was hit. He removed it by yanking it off at the chin part with an upward stroke of his right hand. The mask is clear of the plate area, removing any danger of the catcher tumbling over it. His eyes are in the air, spotting the exact position of the pop as it is still on its way up, his hip and knees bent and his position relaxed. The catcher must learn that you do not stand under a pop fly, but move up to meet it. The ball, upon being hit, rotates backward and if the catcher stands directly beneath the pop it may eventually drop, untouched, in back of him. Now the catcher has spotted the ball on its downward flight and has stepped in front of the plate (below) to get into position for the catch. He has his fingers stretched and open, in relaxed position, and is getting into position to surround the pop-up. His eyes are kept constantly on the ball, anticipating a sudden change in direction of the fly in the event that the wind starts to veer the ball off its downward flight. His glove is brought to shoulder level, his elbows bent and forearms in an upright position. Many coaches instruct their catcher to get directly beneath the descending pop, then step back as it is nearing the glove. This catcher is about to do exactly that. Normally, he would play a trifle
to the rear of the pop, but this one was not hit too high and it was not difficult for him to reach. Now the ball is plunging downward and catch is about to be made. The catcher, because he had been stationed directly beneath the pop, had to back up in order to catch the ball in front of his body. He backed up by just moving his left foot slightly to the rear (above). Even though the catcher is about to nab the ball, he is still relaxed and in good position. His glove faces upward, his fingers are still spread, elbows bent and forearms upraised. The ball is caught. The catcher is bringing his bare hand over the ball (below) to prevent it from popping out of his mitt. The catch, when possible, should always be made with mitt held high and close to the chest. The chest protects against a possible muff if the ball happens to jump out of the mitt or glance off its inside. Holding the mitt high and against the chest also can help trap a ball not caught cleanly.
Clint Courtney settles under a foul hit between third base and the plate. His fingers are spread and pointed upward, his glove held at eye-level. Because this
foul was not hit too high, Clint was forced to lean backward with the trunk of his body in order to catch the pop, instead of taking a backward step.
Del Crandall o£ the Braves, one of the best fielding catchers in the majors, started late for this not-too-high pop-up on the first-base side of the plate. Be-
cause there was little loft to the ball, Del was unable to get into proper fielding position and was forced to play the tricky pop like a fast-charging outfielder.
Taking Throws. - This catcher (above) took the throw to the plate on the thirdbase side. Since he had sufficient time to make the catch, get in front of the plate and wait for the runner, he placed the ball in his mitt and grasped it firmly
with his bare hand. He is permitting the slider to "tag himself" by giving the runner an obstructed path to the plate, The slider has no other choice but to run right into the catcher's mitt for the put-out.
This catcher (opposite page, below) didn't have the same opportunity to station himself for a routine tag. He received a late throw on the third-base side and was forced to scramble toward the runner with the ball in his bare hand. Legal blocking of the plate is excellently demonstrated by the catcher (above) who is about to tag No. 7. Remember — a catcher is not permitted to block the plate unless he has the ball. Blocking the plate without the ball constitutes interference, and results in an automatic run. No. 7 has no other choice but to slide right into that big mitt for the out. Another "dead duck" at the plate is this White Sox runner (right) who was unable to get around Yogi Berra. Berra took the throw just in front of the plate, dropped to his right knee in order to force the runner to go a trifle outside,
and then applied the tag on the inside of his knee. On this play, Berra didn't have the time to block the plate with his full body. Only a fine play by Clint Courtney (sequence, opposite page) prevented this Red Sox run. Courtney, with his left foot on the plate, reaches for a high throw as the runner starts to go into his slide. With a fast downward motion, Courtney grabs the throw, drops to his left knee and stretches his body over the plate. The runner, given a tiny fraction of the plate to tag, has run right into Clint's outstretched glove. The umpire is exactly right as he starts the call that indicates Courtney has done his job exceed-
ingly well. The White Sox catcher (above) is preventing a Baltimore Oriole from flying home safely. Sherman Lollar is the catcher who has the plate blocked with his knees, body and arms. There's very little the runner can do except try to kick the ball from Sherman's glove. That high right foot flashed by the runner might have been aimed at the ball, but Lollar somehow got his arms under the uplifted leg. When time permits, it is good practice for a catcher to make the tag while on his knees. It's difficult to upset him in this position, and he's also closer to the ground, therefore closer to the slider's foot.
First Base Play
One infield position at which size i s a definite asset is first base. A tall first baseman with long arms and legs is at an advantage since a throw gets to him moments quicker than when an averagesized player with normal arms and legs is stationed at first base. It is easy to visualize the advantages a tall first baseman has over one of average size. He can jump highe r for high throws; reach farther into the infield for low throws. Also, he presents a better target for the fielders to throw at. But sometimes size may be a handicap, especially if the tall first baseman is "tanglefooted. Good footwork is necessary for a first baseman if he is to field his position in good fashion. He must know how to shift his arms and feet for throws coming to his left or to his right. He must be quick about leaving his bag and returning to it when he is forced to stretch for a thrown ball. Since a first baseman does not play close to his base when it is unoccupied, he must be fast enough to dash from his normal fielding position to the bag in order to get into position to take a throw. In addition to all the many quick foot moves involved in taking a throw at the bag, the first baseman must also be adept at fielding grounders, going back for short infield pops and racing to the side for foul flies. Should the first baseman be a lefthanded or right-handed thrower? There are advantages when he is a left-hander,
but they are so slight that no right-handed player who possesses all the qualifications to play first base should feel that he may not be able to measure up to standard. At one time left-handers predominated as first basemen in the major leagues. This is no longer true. In fact, in recent years the major-league teams have sometimes kept two first basemen on their roster, one for his hitting ability, the other for his fielding skills — one a left-hander, the other a right-hander. Some coaches prefer a left-handed first baseman only because of the throwing advantage. When a left-handed first baseman throws to second or third base, his left foot is usually in the back, or pivot position. Thus, the left-handed first baseman, after making a catch, need only step in the direction of the throw. Normally, a right-handed first baseman will have his right foot as the rear foot. This means he will have to take a body turn when throwing to second or third base, thus there is the loss of a moment's time in getting the throw away. These same coaches also claim that the left-hander is better equipped to start and complete the "3-6-3" double play. This is the double play that starts with a grounder to the first baseman who throws to shortstop for the put-out at second base. The shortstop then fires back to the first baseman to complete the double play. On this play there is no doubt that the left-hander has the advantage since he does not have to pivot with his body when getting off the initial throw to second base. The advantage, however, is not one of greater fielding ability but,
The throw is toward the outfield side of the base and this fielder (below) plays it correctly. Left foot on the bag, right foot extended. This fielder is touching too much of the bag. It is not necessary to keep so much of his foot on the bag. Just the toe, where possible, or the heel, should be placed against the bag. This allows the first baseman a longer reach and also cuts down the possibility of an accidental spiking by the runner if his running momentum carries him to the inside of the bag.
again, a saving in time consumed in getting off the throw. Foot Movements. — When getting into position for a throw from an infielder, the first baseman assumes an open stance. This baseman (above) is facing the thrower, feet in position to shift either left or right. His feet are a few inches in •front of the bag. Some first basemen do not place their foot on the bag when getting into position to catch the throw. Many will remain in the ready position and then quickly draw back their tag foot against the inside of the bag.
This first baseman (above) has less of his foot on the bag, but his heel could still be placed a bit lower and more to the inside. The throw is on his right, therefore the right-hander stretches into the diamond, left foot touching the bag.
Just which foot is placed on the bag when taking the throw from an infielder depends on proper body balance and the direction of the throw. A right-handed first baseman normally takes a direct throw with his right foot on the bag, as demonstrated by this first baseman (below left). Also, if the throw veers to the left of this first baseman, he will keep the same pivot foot on the bag. If the throw is to the right, he will place his left foot on the bag. (Reverse all these foot movements for a left-hander.) Throws from the other infielders are not always on target. The first baseman may have to stretch left and right, high and low. Sometimes he may have to back up to take a throw that comes on a bounce. This first baseman (below right) is in position to pick up a low throw on
the long hop. He keeps his right foot on the bag since the hop is coming in on his left side. The long hop is played with the first baseman standing in the foul territory side of the bag. If he plays a long hop coming at him from the right side, his right foot will be in the rear as he keeps the toe of his left foot in contact with the bag. (Left-hander will use opposite foot movements.) A different foot movement is necessary when catching high throws. Many first basemen like to keep one foot on the bag and stretch as high as possible. This can be dangerous. If the first baseman is uncertain about whether he can reach the throw and still keep his foot on the bag, he is in trouble. When in doubt, jump for the high throw, as this fielder, and get both feet off the ground. This is the
surest way and, even if he gets back to the bag too late for the put-out, he has at least prevented an overthrow (above). A short hop is a low, bouncing thrown ball the first baseman (right) must reach for on the inside of the diamond. Again, the position of the feet depends upon the direction in which the throw is coming from the infielder. Left foot on bag when stretching to the right; right foot on bag when stretching to the left. The stretch must be as far into the diamond as possible and extra effort should be made to grab the ball the moment it hops off the ground. This fielder keeps his left foot in contact with the bag as he steps toward the ball with his right foot. Notice how he forms a catching pocket by keeping his two small fingers close together.
Reliable Joe Adcock (above) is the perfect example of the right-handed, rangy-type first baseman. Joe is six feet, four inches and has a tremendous reach. Here he stretches far toward the home plate side of first base to grab a low throw off to his left. Notice how his right foot touches the home plate side of the bag. Here is one of those "bang-bang" plays (opposite page) in which the runner and the ball seem to be arriving simultaneously. The first baseman is taking the throw on his left side, thus his
right foot is on the bag. From this photograph it doesn't appear as if the first baseman is doing everything required of him. He doesn't seem to be overextending himself in stretching for the ball. His left leg and glove hand do not seem to be stretched too far into the infield. Of course, it's possible that the first baseman realizes that the runner definitely has the play beaten and is just waiting to receive the ball. Even so, he should be in better position, thus giving the ball every chance to beat the runner.
Taking the Throw. — Sometimes a throw comes in at such a peculiar angle that the stretch seems a bit awkward. Norman Cash (above), a left-hander, seems to be stretching to his left for this throw. If so, why is he violating the accepted techniques by keeping his left, and not his
right, foot on the bag? Well, some first basemen, whenever they are able to maintain body balance, feel more comfortable by keeping the same foot on the bag no matter in which direction they stretch for the throw. Cash, however, has his right leg bent at an unusual angle.
His tag foot is in perfect position — toe against the inside of the bag, allowing him just a trifle more stretching room, which, sometimes, can be the difference between an out and a safe call by the umpire. Hustling Orlando Cepeda makes a fine but futile effort (opposite page, below) to nail the runner who already has reached the bag. Cepeda, who is not regarded as a polished first baseman, places his bare hand on the ground in order to maintain his body balance. Here is a beauty. This is a split worthy of a ballet dancer, and the graceful Gil Hodges (below) shows how a right-handed first baseman touches the bag with his right toe as he stretches out for a direct low throw.
A first baseman also has to take throws from the pitcher and the catcher when a runner already is on first base. His fielding position is much different than when taking a throw from a fielder in order to cut the batter down at first base. Right-handed Bob Skinner (left), who played first base in this game, is in the accepted position for holding a runner on first base. He has his right foot against the corner of the bag, his left close to the foul line. Upon receiving the ball from the pitcher, attempting to keep the runner from taking too big a lead, he turned toward the right and tagged the runner with his gloved hand. The left-handed first baseman doesn't have to turn his body. On taking the pitcher's throw, he merely reaches down with his right (glove) hand to touch the sliding runner.
This runner strayed a bit too far from the bag and No. 25, Jack Brandt (right), playing first base, is about to reach down with his glove for the tag. Brandt took the throw from his catcher and wheeled halfway around to get into the tag position.
Stylish Marv Throneberry (above) reaches for the runner's ankle as he takes this pick-off attempt from the catcher. Since he was facing the batter on this play, he has to turn his body to reach the runner, Jim Piersall. A first baseman who is left-handed has a definite advantage on this type of play. On the opposite page you will note how both Skinner and Brandt, after receiving the ball, must sweep from left to right in order to make a tag on the base-runner. Such a sweep is not necessary by the lefthanded first baseman. He catches the ball and flicks downward and toward the runner's ankle, all in one motion. Also, the pitcher or catcher, when throwing to the first baseman, can throw to the gloved-
hand side of the left-handed first baseman without worrying about whether it will be too far over to the side for the first baseman to reach. Therefore the throw is made to the right of the lefthanded first baseman. A throw made to the right of a right-handed first baseman is not as catchable and the chance for error is much greater. In the next professional game you see, pay particular attention to the pitcher's throw to a left-handed first baseman on a pick-off attempt. The pitcher will invariably throw to the right of the first baseman at a spot between the first baseman's right knee and right ankle. This type of throw to a right-handed first baseman is dangerous.
Second Base and Shortstop Play
The individual play and techniques of the second baseman and shortstop are so similar in performance and execution that the y a re placed togethe r in these pages. These two infielders — known as the Keystone combination — work a s a unit around the middle of the diamond and they are both expected to be equal in ability and agility. There are basic differences in the fielding mobility and throwing strength of these two players. The shortstop, since he has more territory to cover, should be more adept at going to either side for ground balls. Also, because the throw from shortstop to first base is longer, his arm should be more powerful than that of his partner. The second baseman, however, because of his proximity to first base, will be forced to make more plays of greater variety. More batters reach first base than any other, and the second base man is closer to the play at first. He has to be alert to all situations developing around first base and must be ready to continually shift from one position on the field to another. The second baseman usually has to play more slow rolling grounders than the shortstop. This is because there are more right-handed batters, and usually a batted ball hit toward second base by a right-handed hitter travels at a slower rate of speed than a ball hit toward shortstop. Thus the second baseman
must have the ability to break in fast if he wants to field a slowly hit grounder in time to get the runner at first base. The throwing motions, by both infielders, should be overhand whenever possible. The shortstop, because he fields more sharply-hit grounders, will use the overhand throwing motion to first base on just about every play. The second baseman, because he comes in on more slow rollers, will have to use both the sidearm and underhand motions, as well as the overhand throw. Both fielders, naturally, are involved in starting more double plays at second base than any other infielder. Both start double plays by fielding a grounder and throwing to the partner who has moved over to cover second base; both serve as the pivot, or middle, man in the double play. It is most important that both fielders know thoroughly their respective strengths and weaknesses when executing the double play. Each should especially keep in mind the strong points of his partner and make the most of them. For example, if the shortstop, when starting a double play, knows that his second baseman's arm is not too accurate or strong when pivoting on the throw to first base, the shortstop should make every effort to help overcome this weakness. He does this by throwing the ball to the throwing side of the second baseman and about at chest level. Thus the second baseman is already in throwing position upon catching the ball from the shortstop. The shortstop usually starts more
force-outs at second base than the second baseman. If there's a chance for the force-out to develop into a double play, he must make his pick -up and throw with no wasted motion. If there are two outs and a runner on first base, the shortstop, going for the force-out at second, should not hurry the play if he knows he has time to make it. He can then field the grounder in a normal manner and make certain of his throw to second base. He straightens up after fielding the grounder, and makes his throw with the motion that assures him the greatest accuracy. Some shortstops when throwing to second base make certain of their throw by lobbing the ball in an underhand motion. The underhand throw is highly recommended •when the shortstop has fielded the grounder very close to the base. The shortstop has many more duties than fielding ground balls. He should back up the third baseman on all balls hit to that fielder. Some shortstops back up the third baseman by racing to the rear of that fielder. Others will move toward the third baseman and position themselves a few feet to the shortstopside of the third baseman's gloved hand. This is because many sharply hit grounders which bounce off the third baseman's glove will veer toward the shortstop's side of the diamond. When this happens the shortstop is in perfect position to play the bounce off the third baseman's glove. If he breaks to the right and back for a fly ball, he pivots off his left foot and steps out with his right. Reverse this
if he has to break to his left. The second baseman as well has to guard against short fly balls hit over his head and should be in a position to streak for foul flies hit over first base. He will handle more short pops in center field than the shortstop, especially those hit by a right-handed batter. With righthanders at the plate the second baseman moves a bit closer to the base, the shortstop moves a bit to the right to close up the open gap between him and the third baseman. Thus the second baseman is closer to short center field than the shortstop. Both infielders back each other up on attempted steals. With a runner on first base and a right -handed hitter at the plate, the second baseman covers the bag on the steal attempt. The shortstop then races behind the second baseman to protect against an overthrow by the catcher or a muff of the throw by the second baseman. With a left-handed batter at the plate, the shortstop covers the base and the second baseman is the backup man. The shortstop fields a ground ball hit to his right by advancing on the ball in a semi-stooped position. The shortstop has moved to his right by stepping off first with his right foot. His glove is held low, ready to bring down to the ground to meet the roller. He may still have to move in a bit more if the ball has been hit slowly, but he should be certain of first getting as close to the ball as possible. Keep eyes on the ball at all times. Since there is to be a play at second base, the shortstop should keep
in mind that he must try to get into that position which will allow him his best possible throwing motion. The stop is made (right) just in front of his right foot. If he could have made the stop directly in front of him, the play would have been easier to execute. But ground balls take peculiar bounces and you can't expect every fielding play to be a simple one. By keeping his left foot to the rear, and the upper part of his body bent at the waist, the shortstop is in good position to make an underhand or sidearm throw to second base. If there is to be a close play at second, the shortstop must make his throw with either of these two motions. Every second counts, and he may mi ss the out at second base by first straightening up to throw overhand. The left foot extended backward (left) gives the shortstop the proper balance needed when making the stop. He has come to a full stop by bracing his right leg and is stopping the ball inside of his right instep. If he hadn't come to a stop, it's more than likely that he would have reached down for the ball and come up with nothing but embarrassment. When going to the right for grounders, the shortstop, or second baseman, whenever possible should try to come to a stop as he bends to make the pick-up of the grounder. Also, he must remember to make the pick-up before he gets off the throw. Inexperienced shortstops, faced with a close play at second base, have a tendency to throw the ball before they really have control of it. What happens? An error, everybody is safe and the pitcher is not too happy about the situation.
Here is a picture of the shortstop going to his right for a ground ball. He has pivoted off his left foot and stepped out with his right. He approaches the ball, upper part of the body parallel to the ground, the glove coming down on its way to pick up the ball. His right knee is closer to the ground only because he is in the act of bringing it forward to take the ball close to his right foot. The stop is made (below, right) close to the right instep. There was no time for the shortstop to brace his right leg by digging the front of his right foot into the dirt. From this position he will be forced to make his throw to second base standing flat-footed. This shortstop is already getting his fingers into throwing position as he makes the stop. This is only recommended if the infielder is cer-
tain that he has firm control of the ball. Some inexperienced infielders do this before they really have the necessary possession. You already know what will happen in this case. Two views of the shortstop (opposite, above) making the throw to second base. The front view shows the overhand throw with feet spread, left foot pointing slightly in the direction of second base. In this play the shortstop has sufficient time to straighten up and make the throw with an overhand motion. Also, perhaps this shortstop has the ability to snap to this position without any loss of time. Many shortstops can catch a grounder and make the throw all in one motion. Others have the ability to scoop up the grounder, come to an upright stance and throw overhand.
The rear view of No. 7 is the start of a sidearm throw from a different fielding position. No. 7 has his left foot turned almost completely toward second base. He is pivoting on his right instep as he's just about to release the ball. This shortstop may be making the throw sidearm because he has a shorter throw to make than the other shortstop who is throwing overhand. A long view (right) of the shortstop and second baseman teaming up to make the force-out at second base. The shortstop has already cocked his arm for the throw and is about to release the ball. No. 5, the second baseman, is coming over to take the toss from the shortstop. It is not necessary for the shortstop to wait until the second baseman is anchored at the bag before throwing the ball to the target. 137
Gil McDougald shows how necessary it is for a shortstop, or second baseman, to come to a full stop when fielding a ball hit to the right. McDougald, who can play third base, shortstop and second base, was at shortstop the day this grounder (above left) went skipping toward the hole between the third baseman and Gil. He sped to his right, his left hand turned outward, the palm of the glove facing the ball. Gil is in no position to think about proper technique in making this play, and must keep hustling until the ball pops into his glove. As Gil is about to make the stop, his left foot is forward, his right lifted and ready to come forward because of the momentum of his quick dash. The ball is taken by Gil (below left) as his right leg comes forward. His momentum carries him still further away from the play. His right foot has not hit the ground as yet, but when it does Gil will pull up sharply in a full stop. Why the full stop? Well, just try to thro w a ball to first base — accurately and quickly — while in motion, going away from the direction of your throw. Making such a play —without coming to a stop — is in direct contradiction of the laws of gravity, and chances are not bright for its success. Infielders should not come to a halt if the throw is made toward the direction in which they are running. For the best example of this type of play, watch a second baseman scramble for a ground-
er hit to his right with a runner on first base. He scoots to the right, makes his stop and pick-up while still in motion, then throws to the shortstop — who is in front of him and on second base — for the force-out. A second baseman who comes to a full stop on this type of play loses valuable time. Gil comes to a full stop (above right) by pulling up short while his right leg is under his throwing arm. This movement is a natural one and is quite easily done. Just pull up short as your right foot strikes the ground. The right foot is used as a brake on this type of play. The throw cannot be made until you have possession of the ball. McDougald has brought his glove up to his chest and is gripping the ball for the throw as his arms swing to the right preparatory to making the throw. Away goes the throw (below right) to second base for the force-out. McDougald tosses in a sidearm motion on this play at second, and the throw is whipped across the middle of his body. If the throw was to go to first base, McDougald undoubtedly would have made it in an overhand motion. The overhand throw is preferred when it is to be long and to first base. The play on these pages is common for a shortstop since he has more territory to cover than any other infielder. The experienced shortstop, knowing he has the widest range of territory to protect, can help himself by learning his strong points. This play to the right
is most difficult, especially if the third baseman is pulled over to the left-field foul line. The shortstop, seeing a grounder headed for the third-short hole, must consider who is in the best position to make the play — the third baseman coming to his left, or the shortstop racing to his right? The second baseman, when taking the shortstop's throw for a force-out at second, can tag the base in any number of ways. This usually depends upon individual preference. However, on a close play at second the second baseman must
get to the bag by the quickest and shortest route. This second baseman (above) straddles the bag as the runner (No. 5) starts his slide. The second baseman has plenty of time to kick the bag with either foot and then leap out of the way of the runner's spike. This second baseman (right) takes the shortstop's throw for the force at second as his right foot comes down on the bag. The second baseman was racing to the bag as the shortstop made the stop and threw to his target.
more difficult. Here is the middle part of a double play (left) which was started by the pitcher who threw to second base for the force-out. The second baseman takes the throw while straddling the bag. He kicks the bag with his inside foot at the same time that he gets off the throw (below) to complete the double play. The experienced middle man doesn't permit the incoming runner to upset his timing. No. 22, although bearing down on the pivot man, will arrive much too late to prevent the throw to first base. A fine overhand throw (opposite, below) is going toward target as the runner starts a straight-in slide. Although the infielder appears to have completed a simple play, there are certain basic techniques both the pitcher and the middle
Some second basemen will not step on top of the bag for the force-out since this is not the shortest route to the bag. Most will kick the outfield side of the bag, or that side of the bag closest to the second baseman's foot. Nothing can bolster a pitcher's spirits more than a double play that keeps him out of a jam. Sometimes the pitcher himself can help his own cause by originating the double play. When he does — with the shortstop or second baseman acting as the middle man, the infielder taking the throw is facing the diamond at all times. On a shortstop-second baseman double-play attempt, the body of the middle man is usually turned away from the diamond, thus making the tag of the base and the throw to first base a bit
perform before starting a double play of this type. The pitcher, after fielding the ground ball, wheels around and faces second base. He should not throw unless he's certain that the second baseman or shortstop can get over to the bag in time. Usually the second baseman will cover the bag if a right-handed hitter is at the plate. The throw should be chest -high so that the middle man on receiving the throw, wastes little time in getting the peg away to first base. Wherever possible, the middle man should try to take the throw while standing in a straddle position over the bag, just as this infielder. Clever base-runners, when they have the opportunity, will try to prevent the middle man from completing the double play. There is nothing illegal in knocking the infielder off balance, as long as any part of the fielder's body is in the base-line. No. 22 tries to do just that (above) by raising his right leg in an attempt to make shin-to-shin contact with the middle man. His attempt was not successful only because the infielder leaped adroitly in the air, thus getting clear of the runner's upraised leg. There are several ways the second baseman and shortstop make the pivot at second base when acting as middle man in a double-play attempt. Just which technique the pivot man uses depends upon the direction of the throw from his keystone partner, the closeness of the play, and the individual skills of the pivot man.
These two pages show how the shortstop and second baseman get together for a double play with the latter acting as middle man or pivot man. To start any double play that involves the keystone combination, one of the two must field cleanly a ground ball and first make the play at second base. The shortstop who picked up the grounder close to second base in this play, is only five feet from second base (left) as he assumes the throwing motion. He correctly assumes the underhand motion since he has better control of the ball and it will be easier for the second baseman, already waiting on the bag, to catch the ball.
Too many young shortstops fail to get the double play into motion, due to their inability to make the correct throw. Some will insist upon throwing overhand to second base, although only a few feet from the pivot man. The overhand throw, in this situation, is difficult to control and equally difficult to catch. The best and safest throw when but a few feet away from the pivot man, is this underhand toss, thrown toward the fielder's chest and with as little arc as possible. The shortstop should keep his throwing hand in front of his body so that the second baseman will have no trouble following the flight of the ball. The second baseman (opposite page, below) has taken the shortstop's throw,
his right foot planted on the outfield side of the bag, his left foot on the outfield side of second base. This is known as the "backing off." type of second-base pivot, only the second baseman is not in the best of positions to back off and away from the sliding base-runner. The sidearm throw to first base (below) is about to be made as the runner comes directly toward the second baseman's exposed left leg. What happened here is that the pivot man didn't push back with his right foot toward right field before making his throw. He also kept his left foot too close to the bag and a clever base-runner would have no problem in upsetting the second baseman.
Here is one o£ those double plays in which everything must break perfectly for the fielding team if it expects to register two outs on a tricky ground ball. Kansas City, the fielding team, turned in a sparkling double play despite so many factors which ordinarily would prevent it. There were runners on first and second base when the Athletics' shortstop (No. 2) suddenly lunged for a grounder that bounced weirdly to his right (above left). The runner hurrying on to third base failed to bother the shortstop shown making the back-handed stop in front of his right foot. The shortstop, because of the peculiar bounce of the grounder, was unable to come to a sudden stop on his right foot, and his momentum carried his left foot another step away from second base (middle) as he looked toward second base and prepared to throw to the pivot man. The second baseman, already on the bag (below left), was facing shortstop as he took the throw with the runner from first base (No. 34) coming at full steam. Look closely and you will see the left foot of the second baseman on the outfield side of the bag. His pivot foot is hidden, but it is also touching the outfield side of the bag. Pivot, ball and runner are very much in evidence (opposite page) as the second baseman gets off his throw to first base. Right here is where the double play is made or muffed. That runner barreling in with the side of his body could
have upset the pivot man. The throw could have been late in getting away, and also wide of its first base target. But the second baseman — all in the same motion — touched the bag, pivoted, backed off, got the throw away and avoided the runner. A good play all around.
Second basemen will also have to make their pivot on that side of the base which faces left field. Again, just how a second baseman makes the pivot depends upon the throw from the shortstop, the closeness of the play at second and the individual abilities of the second baseman.
This pivot man (below) has moved over to the left-field side o£ the bag and will either back off and away from the bag or continue moving forward and toward the mound side of second. He takes the throw facing the shortstop, the side of his body in line with first base. Now he has his choice of pivots to make: Bring the right foot forward and continue toward the mound side of second, or hop to the rear, his right foot to the rear of his left, and make the pivot and throw from the left-field side. The second baseman decides to make his pivot on the mound side of second (right) by turning his body toward first base as he brings his right foot over the left. By making this pivot he has shaken clear of the base-line and away from the runner coming down from first base.
To complete the force-out at second, the pivot man must not be running as he takes the pivot. That is, he must get to the bag and set for the throw (as above). Always make certain of the "front man," the runner coming down from first base. Once he's disposed of, then make the pivot and throw. Now we introduce Red Schoendienst (opposite page, above) as the pivot man who has already moved toward the mound side of second. You can see how he has removed himself from the danger of contact with the runner (No. 8) who seems to be out by such a wide margin that he never bothered to slide. Another good action of Schoendienst spinning toward the mound side of second. This play was much closer and Red
barely got out of the way of the slider (below). Pivot men must try to mix their types of pivots. The keystone fielder who
habitually makes just one type of pivot will regret it because the runner will become familiar with it and will know just how to "take out" the pivot man.
The second baseman's pivot on the mound si de of se c ond a s hi s ri ght foot brushes the infield side of the bag (above). The second baseman took the shortstop's throw with his pivot foot on the bag. Coaches prefer to have their second baseman touch the outfield side of the bag on this type of pivot because the pivot man is then a step farther from the base-runner. However, if you find it easier to pivot off the inside part of the bag, do it that way.
Right foot drawn away (below), the second baseman works his way toward the mound and away from the slider as he assumes his throwing position. If you can make the pivot in this manner, it is done quickly and with no time lost in execution. The trick here is to throw after taking the right foot off the bag. Try to place your front (left) foot a bit farther to your right so that your body will be in better throwing position once you get ready to release the ball.
The Yankee shortstop (above) is in the backing-off pivot position as he cocks his arm for the peg to first. His left toe is barely in contact with the bag as his body is on the outfield side, safely away from No. 19 who has no chance to send the shortstop sprawling. The shortstop has his right instep dug into the ground, giving him proper body control. A fast-moving second baseman glides far away from the base-runner (right) in this pivot and throw to first base in a DP attempt. This is a mound-side-of-second pivot and it must be done quickly. Just before making the throw he brushed the back of the bag with his right foot and scooted way over into the mound side of the bag.
Another standard pivot by the shortstop is going across the base and on over to the right-field side of the diamond, as this shortstop (opposite page, above). It is always easier for the shortstop to serve as the middle man because he's moving toward first base as he makes the play. The shortstop (opposite page, below) has moved away from the bag and over to the right-field side of second. Since receiving the ball he has taken three steps: starting with a push-off on the right foot. Since the base-runner seems to be coming into the bag on the outside side, the shortstop draws his right foot backwards as he starts to get clear.
The runner hits the dirt (above), outside leg lifted high in an attempt to upset the shortstop and prevent his throw to first. The shortstop, however, has skipped beyond the base path area and is free from the base-runner. This type of pivot — across the base to right field — is safe and quite simple to execute, even for the inexperienced shortstop. Just remember to take the throw with the right foot on the bag, push off and continue on to the right-field side of the base to avoid the runner. The shortstop also makes a standard pivot by going across the mound side of second.
The start of such a play develops (left) as the shortstop races over from his position to make the force-out at second base. This throw isn't too accurate because it is much too far from the shortstop's body, causing him to lunge toward the right-field side of the bag. Right here is where the possible double play can explode in the face of the fielding team, especially if the shortstop tries to make his pivot before catching the throw from his second baseman. The shortstop now steps in the direction of the mound with his right foot (below) as he gets his left foot away from
the bag. The slider has no opportunity to get close to the pivot man because he's drifting away from the bag and from the direction of the base-runner's slide. On the mound side of second base (below), the shortstop has a clear throw to the bag, as the runner arrives too late at second base. Baseball technicians will not call this the ideal pivot by the short stop who is going to make the play by the mound side of second. Their main objection will be the lunge the shortstop was forced to make in an attempt to grab the second
baseman's throw at the bag. From this position it seems hardly reasonable to assume that the shortstop can get off the base fast enough, hop to the mound side of second base, and still make his throw to first in time to complete the double play. If this play blows up, the second baseman is the guilty party. The shortstop, if he can avoid it, should not place his left foot on top of the bag when taking the throw. Whenever possible the shortstop should attempt to keep his left foot to the outfield side of the bag, or just brush it with his left foot when tagging the bag.
Correct position for the second baseman (right) who gets to the bag in plenty of time to receive the throw from the shortstop. He faces the shortstop, glove held chest-high in order to give the shortstop a target and cut down on his own throwing motion. The outside edge of his left foot is just touching the bag and he can now move to the right, or backing-off position when making his pivot. There is no other pivot move he should make from this stance but the backing-off pivot.
It won't be necessary for him to leap and flip, since he's in back of the bag and away from the spikes of the incoming base-runner; he shouldn't make the pivot on the mound side of second because the right foot should be the pivot on this type of play; and he shouldn't continue beyond the base and on the left-field side because he would then be taking unnecessary steps before getting off his throw. Back he steps (left), pushing, or backing off with his l e f t leg. The baserunner is helpless. He has already been forced at second when the second baseman took the throw, and he is much too far away to do anything about prevent 156
ing the throw to first by the pivot man. For the second baseman who finds it difficult to make the double play pivot, this backing-off type is recommended. There are fewer steps involved in this type of pivot, and the slow-footed second baseman is better off to concentrate on this maneuver than the others which involve quick leaps and quick foot movements. Very rarely does a second baseman back off (below) this far from the bag. If he did he would be taking need less steps, thus cutting down on his chances of completing the double play. The back-off pivot by the second baseman is not complicated. He hits the bag
with his left foot, right foot on the outfield side of second. He can then swing his left foot around, place his weight on his right foot and then peg to first base. Naturally much depends on just how fast the second baseman can get over to cover the bag. Even on a close play when the dash to second, the tag of the bag, the pivot and the throw to first must be made with no lost motion, the back-off pivot is still the simplest play for the second baseman. Again, here is what he does: Gets over to the bag while facing the shortstop; takes throw with left foot on base; steps back to the outfield with the right foot and makes the throw to first base.
No other infielders are forced to make as many tags on base-runners as the shortstop and second baseman. Most tag plays are made at second base on steal attempts, and efforts to stretch a single into a double. One would-be bag-stealer is about to expire only because the Athletics' shortstop (above) already has the ball in his glove following a perfect low peg from his catcher, and is waiting to snap his glove down on the slider's left ankle. There is a definite art in making the tag of a base-runner. Many coaches insist that their infielders do not permit the runner to slide into the waiting glove
since the runner's foot can easily dislodge the ball. The accepted tag technique by an infielder on a runner attempting to steal is the so-called "sweep" method. When ball and runner arrive together, sweep the glove down across the slider's foot, or ankle, and then sweep the glove up again. This tagging motion is not merely an up-and-down movement but just what it indicates —a sweep. The sweeping tag is done in circular motion: down across the front foot of the slider, up with the glove, the glove moving in an arc. The tag is applied differently when the infielder already has the ball and is
waiting to put it on the sliding runner. Although major-leaguers constantly violate the accepted techniques, managers and coaches preach that their infielders do not plant their glove directly in line with the sliding runner. "Hold it (the glove) to one side," they caution their infielders· "Then snap it down as the slider's foot strikes for the bag." Now take a look (below) at the Athletics' shortstop, who has the ball in his
glove. He seems to be violating the "sweep" or "snap" tag and is keeping his glove planted between the bag and the attempted slider. Purists will insist this is an incorrect technique.. But if the shortstop has his glove folded firmly around the ball, ball deep in the pocket, just what can the runner actually do to avoid this "planted" tag? If the infielder brings his glove up and away after making the tag, the runner is a goner.
Third Base Play
The third baseman's requirements are no different from those of any other infielder, except —this is the player who must have the strongest throwing arm in the infield. Balls batted by a right-handed pull hitter travel faster toward the third baseman than any other infielder, thus the third baseman must be able to get his hands into position quicker than the other infielders. Since batted balls are hit so hard down third base, it is apparent that many of them will not be fielded cleanly. Therefore the third baseman, forced to recover a fumbled hopper, and faced with the long throw over to the first base, has to have a powerful and accurate arm if he wants to fire the ball in time to get the put -out. Many have said that a third baseman is just like any other infielder, except that he has lost some of his speed afoot. This may be so on some professional teams, but how many third basemen have these people seen who couldn't throw hard and true? Think of all the third basemen in the major leagues today. Now, ask yourself if any of the other infielders can match the throwing power of their third baseman. The man at the "hot corner" doesn't have too much time to set himself, or maneuver for ground balls. Sometimes the batted ball is on him just as he gets his glove up to meet it. That's why you will see many third basemen, particularly on balls hit to their left, play the ball with their gloved hand. They'll stick
their glove in the air to play the long hops, step off with their left foot and then throw to first base. Medium-speed grounders hit directly in front of them are played by moving in to meet the ball. The throw should be an overhand motion except in those situations when the third baseman is forced to charge fast on a topped, or very slow, roller or a bunt. Fast grounders hit between the thirdbase line and the fielder must be played back-handed. The third baseman, from his low position, must flick his gloved hand over his body and to the right if he wants to make the play. He then has to straighten up and transfer the ball to his throwing hand. What else must a third baseman have to do? There are those twisting high pops hit over the head. Many of these he must catch while running with his back to the plate, taking the ball over his shoulder, like a football end grabbing a pass. He must be pin-point accurate with his throw when starting the "5-4-3" double play, from third to second to first. The third baseman's throw to the second baseman must come at shoulder-high level and a trifle to the second baseman's throwing side. This type of perfect throw enables the second baseman to get off his toss to first base without too much shifting his arras or hands to throwing position. Fielding a bunt demands cat-like quickness and a fast break away from the position. The third baseman, to execute his play in a minimum of time, must
charge toward the bunt and make the pick-up with his left foot in front of his right foot. From the pick-up position he then throws in an underhand motion to first base. This is one fielding play that requires an underhand throw. One of the easiest plays a third baseman is called on to make is the unassisted force play at third base. This play can only be made if there are runners on first and second, or if the bases are loaded. The third baseman who fields the grounder close to his base —when there are two out — should not throw home, to second or first to make the put-out. He should do exactly as this Pirate third baseman — make the put-out unassisted by stepping on third base (below). Although making the put-out looks
simple enough there is a quick and correct way to make the play. The bag should be touched with the foot closest to it. The bag should also be touched at that point closest to the player. This third baseman has done both. His right foot has hit the bag on the back, outside edge, thus saving as much time as possible in making the put-out. To make a throw to first to complete a double play, the third baseman should keep his throwing hand higher and push off the bag with his right foot. We have already covered the technique involved in playing a smash hit between the third-base line and the third baseman. Here is a dandy illustration of reaching for a ball headed into that area.
Sure-fielding Ken Boyer starts stretching for the drive (above) by throwing his body in the direction of the ball. He has dug his front spikes into the ground to maintain proper body balance, and his glove has already been flung across his body and is in back-hand position. The line drive is speared (below) in the pocket of the glove. True, a certain element of luck is involved in making
the catch, but isn't baseball a matter of inches? Boyer's spectacular grab is made while his front spikes are still dug into the ground. He has spread the fingers of his right hand, palm flat. When he falls to the ground, his right palm will break the fall and the fingers in his glove will be able to keep control of the ball.
Foot Movements. — Many of the foot movements o£ the third baseman are much different than those of the infielder who is required to make a play around second base. In many plays at third base the baseman usually has sufficient time to station himself in proper position before making the tag on the runner, and this third baseman has done just that as he awaits a throw from his catcher on an attempted steal by the base-runner from second base. He straddles the bag (above left), placing his weight evenly on his feet. The inside part of the bag is exposed to the runner coming from second but the fielder has removed the possibility of receiving an injury from the runner's spikes. A third baseman who positions himself in front of the bag, thus blocking it, leaves himself liable for injury by the runner who is entitled to freedom of the base-line. A runner is entirely within the rules if he attempts to knock over the third baseman who stands in front of the bag without the ball. Some third basemen will not take a throw from the catcher while in this position. The experienced third baseman will station himself in front of the bag, then swing his left leg around to the outfield side of the base, thus assuming the straddle position. This is just what this third baseman (below left) is doing. He has swung his leg around the bag and is about to catch the throw from the catcher. Once the catch is made he will be in a position similar to the third baseman in the above photograph.
This third baseman has taken the throw and has swung his left leg around to the outfield side of the bag. From this position he will have to turn left in order to face the runner coming down from second (above). Note that the throw is about knee-high, perfectly placed for the third baseman.
Making the Tag. — The runner is out (below) because the third baseman is alert. Knowing that the runner will at tempt to drive his right foot against the inside corner of the outfield side of the bag, the fielder has shielded that area, Thus the runner's right foot slides right into the fielder's glove for the put-out.
If the throw is high or wide, concentrate on catching the ball. Play the ball first. An inexperienced third baseman may make the mistake o£ attempting to hold his fielding position as he reaches wide, high or low for an inaccurate throw. If the throw is so inaccurate as to make the third baseman leave his feet, forget the runner and concentrate only on catching the ball. Remember, third basemen, bring the glove up to the side after tagging the runner. Do not keep the glove in its tagging position since the runner may kick the ball out of the glove. Willie Mays is about to get cut down
on this attempt to take an extra base because the ball, in this case, arrived before he did. The fielder's right foot is outside of the foul line only because this is how he likes to position himself in making this play. There is no hard and fast rule on just how the third baseman should station himself when taking the throw from the catcher. As the third baseman gains additional experience he will soon learn which method is best for him in making this type of play. Take another look at this fielder (above). He caught the ball in both hands but has since transferred it to his
gloved hand. He will then shoot his gloved hand down to the ground and let Willie slide into it. Since the upper body and arms of the fielder are in front of the
bag, it will not be necessary for him to swing his right leg to a position on the far side of the bag. The third baseman has his forearms well in front of the bag and will make the play without any difficulty. Everything worked on this tag at third (below) with the same situation (a single to right field with a runner on first). The throw came straight and low. The third baseman, from his straddle position, made the catch. He snapped the glove down in front of the bag and the runner is about to be eliminated because he's sliding right for the glove.
Still another method of playing the bag on a sliding runner is demonstrated by dependable Eddie Mathews. He has his right foot (above) jammed tight against the home plate side of the bag as the slide is made head first. His left leg is back and spread wide, a position Eddie feels keeps him well anchored at the bag. Both of Eddie's hands are making the tag, probably because there is less danger of a spike injury. An excellent example of the play of a third baseman when an inaccurate throw forces him from his fielding position is demonstrated in the three sequence pho-
tographs (opposite page). The alert third baseman (top) instantly leaves the bag when he sees that the throw will not be strong and accurate enough to catch the runner. He steps off on his left foot because the throw is going to his left. In the middle photograph we see that the third baseman has completely given up the idea of nailing the base-runner and is making certain that the throw doesn't get by him. The runner drives' toward third base and the fielder goes to the outfield side of the bag (bottom) to flag down the inaccurate throw from the outfield.
Speed, hustle, the ability to judge a fly ball and a powerful throwing arm are the prime qualifications of an outfielder. All outfielders should possess these qualifications and, where possible, there is some advantage to have a left-handed right-fielder and a right-handed left-fielder. The center-fielder should be the fastest and surest of the outfielders. Since he will catch more balls and pick up more grounders, he should be the best fielder. The right-fielder's toughest chances are fielding grounders and catching flies hit between him and the foul line. The left-handed thrower who plays the ball on his left, or throwing, side already is in position to make the throw back to the infield. Thus a left-hander can get the ball away a bit quicker from the right field position than a right-hander. The reverse is true in left field where a righthander has a slight advantage. A smart outfielder not only knows how to catch and throw but makes a study of the hitters. He knows which batter is most likely to hit a certain pitch to a specific part of the field. This knowledge is very important, and the thinking outfielder sometimes can overcome a lack of other talents provided he knows just when and where to play the batters. A pull hitter, left or right, should be played shaded toward his strength. A strong right-handed pull hitter who smashes to left field almost any pitch he
can hit, should be played deep and toward the left side of the diamond. The left-fielder plays closer to the foul line; the center-fielder moves to the left-center hole and the right-fielder moves to his right, leaving a gap between him and the right-field foul line. Reverse these fielding positions for a left-handed pull hitter. The knowledge of just where the batter will hit a pitch plus the information that the pitcher is throwing a curve or fast ball are aids to proper outfielding. The outfielder must also know the speed of the base-runners so that he doesn't make a needless throw after picking up a grounder. If there is a fast runner on second base and the batter hits a hopping ball through the box and into center field, that outfielder must immediately come up with the answer to the question: Can I get the runner at the plate? The experienced outfielder had the answer even before the batter singled through the middle of the diamond. A hopping ball coming to the center-fielder who is playing a normal depth does not travel too quickly. Therefore, with a fast base-runner on second, there doesn't seem to be much chance to get the runner at the plate. The throw should be made to second, holding the batter to a single. A needless throw to the plate in this situation would only result in the batter darting to second on the throw to the plate. The following pages vividly illustrate some of the outfielding techniques.
Willie Mays (below) exhibits flawless form in catching a fly hit to his right and to. his rear. He started back and to the right by making a pivot on his left foot and stepping off with his right. When he got into position to make the catch he had his glove outstretched, both palms facing upward, the little finger of his throwing hand against the little finger
of his gloved hand. Willie's right foot is about to be placed in back of his left. Right after making the catch he dug the front spikes of his right foot into the ground, his left foot in front. His feet were then in excellent alignment and he was in perfect position to throw back to the infield in order to keep the base-runners from advancing after the catch.
his arm and glove well out in front of his body. He realizes that he is out of stretching position to make a two-handed catch. It's obvious that this catch cannot be made if the fielder attempts to make it with the glove held in an upward position, fingers pointed upward. If the catch were attempted in that fashion, the ball would strike the heel of the glove. After the lunging one-handed catch is made (below), proper positioning must be maintained if the fielder is to keep the ball secure. The outfielder slides to the grass, his left knee and leg taking the weight of the awkward slide. He keeps his right arm high so that the trunk of his body will not come forward. The best way to break a fall after making this type of catch is to roll over on your left side, bringing the glove into your waist.
A little blooper went into short left field, slightly to the left of this fast-charging outfielder (above) who had been playing the batter at normal depth. He started moving in on the fly by stepping off first with his left foot. As he approached the ball he made up his mind to try for the catch. In comes the left-fielder, eyes always on the ball, attempting to time his stride so that his glove will reach the ball before it drops. An outfielder who races in on a short fly, or line drive, can make the catch but one way: the inside of his wrist and palm of the glove facing outward, his fingers pointing toward the ground. This outfielder charges quickly on this short pop,
Mickey Mantle's fly-catching technique on a ball hit to his rear differs from those used by Willie Mays (see page 172). Mickey had to go back and to his left for this long drive. He started after the ball by pi voting left on hi s right foot and stepping off with his left. He never once turned his back on the ball, following it in flight with his head turned at an angle. Some coaches disapprove of the outfielder who keeps his head turned toward the infield as he races backward for a fly ball. They prefer the outfielder to turn his back on the fly, run to the position to where he thinks it may descend, and then turn around to make the catch. However, it is possible that this fly that Mickey is racing for has not been hit that far. If the outfielder feels he has a better chance of making the catch by following the flight of the ball, as Mickey is doing here, then he should play it that way. You must be exceedingly fast to run backward while keeping your head turned in the direction of the ball. Also, you must maintain proper balance since you are looking one way and running in another in this situation. Your feet may slip out from in front of you if you're not careful, and one slight stumble means that the ball will not be caught.
Mickey reaches the ball as it hits his glove, just below the pocket. The fingers of his bare hand are relaxed and stretched as he places them against the ball to keep it from popping out of his glove. Mickey has made the catch as the front of his right foot hits the ground. Still in motion, Mickey continues to move as he gains firm control of the ball.
Since there were no runners on base, he did not pull up short by coming to a stop on his left foot. When the bases are empty always keep moving. If it is not necessary, do not break stride.
Although many school games are played on fields without walls, or enclosures, outfielders must learn the problems involved in going back for a fly that may hit the wall, or land close to it.
The Duke draws a bead (below) on the ball. He has made up his mind —come what may — that he's going to make the catch. He knows — and this is important — that a fellow outfielder (left-fielder or right-fielder) — is already backing him up, close by the wall and ready to take the rebound if he doesn't make the catch. Outfielders, by backing up, work as a team on this type of play. Snider has decided that he has nothing to lose by trying for the ball and is ready to spring upward off his right foot.
Centerfielder Duke Snider (above) has such a problem to contend with. First he asks: Is the ball catchable? If so, do not hesitate once your mind is made up that the catch can be made. Walls, however, are of firm foundation and they should not be challenged with flesh and bones.
Up he goes (below), the pocket of his glove facing the ball, fingers pointed upward. His bare ha nd is against the wall to stop his forward motion into the wall and to furnish his body with protection and balance. This type of catch can only be attempted with one hand. Attempting such a catch with two hands would mean that the outfielder, when jumping for the ball, would lose control of his body and crash into the wall. No put-out is worth a crippling injury. Snider is aware of this and ha s taken the proper preca utions, e ve n though hi s atte mpt i s still a bit risky.
A great catch (above) because Snider did everything perfectly. He judged the downward flight of the ball properly, leaped at the right time, maintained proper body balance, and was surehanded enough to keep control of the ball once it smacked into the pocket of his glove. There was nothing "lucky" about this defensive gem. Any outfielder who is uncertain about whether he will be able to make such a catch, should first go back to the wall and face the fly ball. If he decides he cannot catch it, he should immediately run back toward the infield, turn around and face the wall to play the rebound.
All catches on these two pages were made because each fielder timed the ball and his stretch, or leap, perfectly. Timing is most important when making onehanded jumping catches. Leap too soon, the ball will strike the heel o£ your glove; spring high too late and the ball will be gone beyond you. No. 20 shows how to take a ball hit directly over your head when the catch must be made with the back to the infield. Although No. 20 is an infielder, his technique should be studied by every would-be outfielder who has trouble catching a ball hit over his head. Keep the glove high, the arm stretched away from the body. If the fly is timed correctly, the ball will find its way into the glove.
Another type of leaping back-to-diamond grab is turned in by speedster Billy Bruton (No. 38) who collars the ball while both feet are off the ground. This is one of those run-and-hope plays an outfielder must make from time to time. As the ball is hit, just turn your back to the infield and run in the direction of the drive. Then hope you arrive at approximately the same time that you can stick your glove out, backhanded, to make the catch. Going up like an elevator (opposite page) is Al Kaline, a supreme fly-catcher who loves to leap for batted balls. Proof that Kaline didn't leave his feet too early or too late is in the pocket of his glove. The catch was made as he approached the peak of his leap, a picture fielding play guaranteed to make his pitcher feel grateful. 178
Team Defense, General
During the course of a game the fielding team will be forced to make plays which require perfect timing, coordination and cooperation. We are not referring to the basic fielding plays, such as a routine grounder thrown to first base for a put-out, or a fly ball caught by an outfielder, but to those plays which involve a fielder other than the first baseman making the put -out at first base; the run-down of a runner trapped between bases; the responsibility of all the infielders in various bunt situations; the alignment of the infielders when there are runners on base. Illustrations of the pitcher as a fielder and several bunt situations are covered in the following pages. There are many general team defenses which are difficult to illustrate, two of which are run-down and cut-off plays. (Some of these are covered in the chapter on Play Situations.) Run-down Plays. — The run-down of a runner may involve as many as four fielders. Let's assume the runner on first base is suddenly picked off and he starts running between first and second. The pitcher throws to first base but the runner is halfway between first and second. The first baseman starts to chase the runner toward second. The pitcher should now immediately get over to first base to cover the bag, and the second baseman should get in back of the shortstop to back up the shortstop, who is
playing catch with the first baseman in an attempt to tag the runner. Thus there are four fielders involved in this type of run-down. In any run-down always attempt to chase the runner back to the base furthest from home plate. A run-down between second and third base might involve the shortstop and second baseman at second base, the third baseman and the pitcher, or catcher, at third base. If the catcher is in the play the pitcher, or first baseman, should cover home plate. Cut-off Plays. — Cut-off plays (throws from the outfield which are intercepted by an infielder) are an especially important phase of general team defense. Many situations arise when the batter, with a runner on second, drives a single to the outfield. Anticipating a close play at the plate, the outfielder throws home. Although many coaches have different ideas on their defensive alignment in such a situation, here is a good one to follow. Move the first baseman into the middle of the infield to serve as the cut-off man on throws from the centerfielder or right-fielder. Station him in the direct line of the throw from the outfielder to the plate. The pitcher backs up the catcher at the plate; move the second baseman to cover first base. As the throw comes in the catcher should yell to the first baseman (or third baseman), telling him whether the re's a chance to make the out at the plate. If there is a chance, the first baseman lets the throw go through to the catcher. If not, the first baseman then cuts off the
1 8 1 181
throw and holds the batter-runner at first base, or pegs to second if the batterrunner attempts to take an extra base. This is sharp, smart defensive team play and can help win many ball games. Most school coaches are aware that the winning team is the one that "gives away" the fewest runs. Inexperienced school players make many mechanical and fielding mistakes only because they are still in the process of learning and developing. Coaches, however, all agree that the school team which gives away the fewest runs will eventually win a majority of its games. A different type of cut-off is used when the batter hits safely to the outfield with a runner on first base. The runner, naturally, will try to race around to third base. If the outfielder's throw is allowed to go into that base with no attempt to cut it off, the batter may continue into
second base. To protect against this, put the cut-off defense to work. In this type of defense the shortstop is the logical cut-off man. Immediately after the ball is hit the pitcher should race to the rear of third base, in position to back up a muff or a wild throw. The shortstop stations himself in the line of the throw to third base and makes his play on vocal instructions from the third baseman. Cut-off, or let the throw through. But the shortstop must be told what to do since he can't see in back of his head. So you can see how important defensive cooperation is if you expect to win games. Pitcher Covers First Base. — The pitcher (below) must get over to cover first base when the first baseman is fielding a ground ball. Some grounders may be hit so sharply to the first baseman that he has time to make the play himself. However,
no pitcher should stand still on any ball hit to his left. The pitcher should instinctively move toward first base on any ball hit to the right side of the diamond. Even if it's a routine grounder to second base, get off that mound. Maybe the first baseman will trip on his way to cover the bag. This pitcher knows that he will have to take the throw at first base for the out. He has left the mound and headed for first base, his eyes on the first baseman who has the ball in throwing position. The underhand toss is recommended on all short throws and the first baseman must not wait until the pitcher gets to the bag before making his throw. The throw from the first baseman
should be released before the pitcher gets to the base. Lead the pitcher with the throw. Time the throw so that the ball gets to the pitcher when he's about one or two strides from the base. This will allow him time to locate the base with his foot. The pitcher (above) has taken the throw as he steps on the base. This pitcher, although touching the inside top of the bag, has lost a precious half-step by not touching the inside edge of the bag with the right side of his foot. The first baseman shows how the body is brought forward, as well as the arm, following release of the ball. The pitcher, after making the tag, should not continue running. Come to a stop, and
shove off toward the infield on the right foot. He is then in position to make a throw if there is another base-runner. With a runner on first, the pitcher must also cover second when both the shortstop and second baseman drop back
for a fly ball. The same holds true when, with a runner on second, both the shortstop and third baseman drop back for a fly ball. Thi rd ba se must t hen be covered. Not all first baseman-pitcher plays are
routine. You sometimes see both players forced to turn in spectacular efforts if a put-out is to be registered. Such a play occurred when the San Francisco Giant first baseman (opposite page) dashed to his left and in to get a slow roller. He paid scant attention to the technique of picking the ball up with both hands, snatched at it with his bare hand while on the move away from first base. The Giant pitcher streaks to cover first base as the ball (above) has already been released. How did the first baseman get the ball away? He whipped it in an underhand motion, throwing as best as possible to that spot over first base where he hopes the pitcher eventually will be. What about the t hrow leading the pitcher by one or two strides? The first baseman was in no position to worry about this. He was throwing from the side and to the rear, a most difficult play. Taking long strides, the pitcher (middle) seems to be in good position to beat the runner to the base, if the throw is true. The pitcher starts to stick his glove out and reach for the ball as he comes within three strides of the bag. Catch is made as the right edge of the pitcher's foot (below) makes contact with the bag. This play misfired on one count: The runner was too fast and beat the throw. Also you can say the throw was a trifle high. But considering the position from which the first baseman threw and the fact that the pitcher wasn't pulled away from the bag by the throw, its height can be overlooked. This was a good play, but let's look at it again. No matter how it was played,
it's evident that the runner would have been safe. However, was the first baseman a bit hasty in making hi s throw from such a difficult position? Possibly. The safest way, perhaps, would have been for the first baseman to pivot more in the direction of the base before releasing the ball. Bunt Defense. — The defensive alignment for an anticipated bunt is always interesting to watch. There is no set pattern as to how the infield will decide to position itself. Much depends upon the score, the number of base-runners, the hunter's ability and the strength of the following hitter. The trend in the major leagues seems to be to "surround" the sacrifice bunter, especially if he's not very good as a hitter. Let's say the offensive team has a man on first, none out, score tied in any of the last three innings. The pitcher is now at bat, a very weak hitter, but a successful sacrifice will push the potential lead run into scoring position. Everybody knows the pitcher is going to bunt, and the defense sets itself for the play. But it sets itself for the sacrifice by "surrounding" the batter. On the pitch, both the third baseman and the first baseman break down the line toward the plate and almost get within touching distance of the batter. This makes the batter's bunting task that more difficult. Is this a good way to prevent the batter from sacrificing? It's not recommended for players of school age. Young players should stick to basic techniques. The major-leaguers can do
many things "against the book" only because they have talent and superior knowhow, acquired after many years of playing. The bunt (opposite page) was not unexpected and from the batter's grip we see that he bunted to sacrifice the runner to second. There was only a runner on first when this sacrifice was made. The catcher signalled for a high pitch since it's more difficult for a batter to successfully bunt this type of pitch. Contact with the ball was made just below face level, an ideal height for the pitcher to aim a pitch on an anticipated sacrifice attempt. As the ball (opposite page) skipped into the diamond, the catcher's bare hand instinctively was raised to the chin strap of his mask, ready to yank it off if he is forced to field the bunt. The pitcher never stands still after delivering the ball in a possible bunt situation. This is the normal positioning of the infield with a runner on first and a bunt anticipated. The third baseman breaks toward the plate, just about halfway between the plate and third base. He moves slightly to his left as he breaks in, but shouldn't stray too far from the foul line. The pitcher comes down from the mound and toward the plate, and the first baseman also moves toward the plate but on the pitcher's side of the infield. The shortstop and second baseman must cover the bases, the shortstop on second base, the second baseman on first base. The catcher, who has the play in
front of him, shouts instructions as to who should field the ball and what base it should be thrown to. The left-handed pitcher (page 187) is in perfect position to field the bunt but did not have time to make a play on the "front" runner, the runner going to second base. He then threw on to first base (page 187) where the second baseman was already on the bag to make the putout. The infield played this bunt "according to the book," satisfied to get the putout and permit the base-runner to advance to second. However, different bunt situations demand different infield alignments. With a base-runner on second and a bunt in order, the third baseman cannot move in too far to play the bunter. It's possible he may have to get back in order to take a throw at the bag if there's a chance to catch the runner coming into third. With runners on first and second base, the pitcher should move toward the third-base side of the mound after delivering the pitch, giving him a better chance to try for the force-out at third base if he fields the bunt in time. Another bunt play (sequence, left) which misfired only because the bunt came back too quickly. The first baseman was too alert and the shortstop was where he was supposed to be. The pitch is bunted (above) at about shoulder height. Notice that the catcher is in an almost upright position, ready to dash in front of the plate to cover the bunt. No. 5 (middle) was right in the path of t he bunt. Now you see one of t he
advantages of the left-handed first baseman. The first baseman does a half-pivot on his right foot and faces in direction of the second base. The play is now in front of him and it is his decision to make as to whether to try for the front runner or make the put-out at first base. Since the first baseman already had the ball in plenty of time it is not necessary for him to check both first and second bases. However, it is always safer to make the put-out at first. The shortstop waits on the throw (opposite page below) as No. 26 races toward second base. His left foot is on top of the bag, and here it makes no difference whether the foot touches the inside or the top of the bag. Fast foot -
work is not necessary here and there is no split-second saving of time. Out at second (above) as the shortstop flies away from the runner and toward the pitcher's side of the infield, ball gra sped in bot h ha nds. He ha s done the right thing —made certain of the put-out at second. Some school shortstops making this type of play may have the double play on their mind. This is wrong because the first baseman's throw was away from the shortstop's body and he was forced to lean toward the first-base side to make the catch. Attempting to make the double play here could easily result in an error and even the loss of the put-out at second base.
Base Running and Sliding
The art of base running begins the moment the batter hits the ball and steps off toward first base. A right-handed hitter, after completing his swing, turns his body away from first base and shifts his weight to his left foot. Thus, with the weight on the left foot, he takes his initial step toward first base with his right foot. It follows that a left-handed hitter, after swinging, turns his body in the direction of first base, the weight shifted to his right foot. Thus his first step toward first base will be with his left foot. The batter, after hitting the ball, should follow its direction so that he can decide what to do as he approaches first base. A right-handed batter can follow a ball hit to the left side by taking a quick glance over his shoulder. The left-handed batter has the ball in front of him no matter where it is hit. On approaching first base the runner can streak on to second base, make his turn around first base and decide whether to go for second or stay on first,, or race straight over first base, pulling up in short right field. Always make the turn around first base on a safe hit to the outfield. If the outfielder is slow in picking up the ball or momentarily fumbles it, you are in perfect position to streak for second. Always run down the first-base line with all your speed. If first base is occupied, the actions of that runner will give you a tipoff on whether your ball has been field-
ed, or has fallen safely. Many batters know instinctively just how many bases they can make on a safe hit. A batter who knows he can get more than one base on a hit should not slacken his speed as he approaches first base. Before touching first he should take a wide turn toward the bag. He can then pick up more momentum as he goes on to second base. It is not important whether the runner touches the bases with his left foot or right foot, but he should touch the infield corner of the base. The first-base coach will help on a drive which seems good for extra bases. He will shout instructions at the runner as he rounds first base, particularly when the ball is hit to left field and out of easy visual range to the batter-runner. A batter-runner who approaches second base and must decide whether to go on to third base must be alert to instructions from the third-base coach. Also, the runner, whenever possible, should keep his eyes on the fielders racing for the ball. This is basic for all runners approaching second base on a ball hit from the left-field foul line to center field. The play is in front of the runner and he must then consider the game situation, the fielder's throwing arm and his own ability to beat the throw to third base. When a base-runner is on first, waiting on the next pitch, he should have his foot on the bag until the pitcher gets into pitching position by placing his (the pitcher's) foot on the pitching slab. The runner on first must also keep
alert for instructions from his coach. Don't take a lead off second base until the pitcher steps into pitching position. The runner on second, when taking his lead, will find it difficult to concentrate on the pitcher, shortstop and second baseman at the same time. The thirdbase coach may watch the movements of the two keystone infielders as the runner worries only about the pitcher. The runner then is guided off his bag by his coach's verbal instructions. The runner on third base leads off his bag in foul territory only. Line drives whistle into this area and the runner who gets struck by one in foul territory is not out. There are several times when a runner is forced to slide. A runner slides for
two very basic reasons: to avoid being tagged by a fielder, and to halt his momentum when going into the base he's headed for. Before sliding a runner must first learn to fall properly. Most runners fall to their left side before going into a slide. This is done by first raising the right foot a few inches from the ground, keeping the right knee bent and facing forward. The runner bends forward at the waist and bends his left knee. He then falls to the left side, taking the weight of his body on the outside of his left leg and the palm of the left hand. To maintain balance, swing the right arm upward. To fall on the right side, merely reverse the preliminary positions.
Types of Slides. — The many slides are the straight-in, bent-leg, hook, whip, and head-first, many of which are illustrated and defined in the following pages. The bent-leg slide is good to use when the runner feels he has the play beaten. In the bent-leg position the runner can slide into the base, contact it with his right foot, push his body up with his left palm and, with his right foot as a brace, assume an upright position. The runner is then in position to take advantage of a muff by the infielder or a wild throw, and continue on to the next base. No. 34 (opposite page) has fallen on the left side and is headed straight for the base, in bent-leg slide position. His left knee is well bent, the instep turned so
that the spikes will not catch in the ground. However, No. 34 is not keeping his body in proper balance. His body, from the waist up, should be more erect and his weight should be thrown a bit more forward. Young players make this same mistake when practicing the bentleg slide. It will be difficult for No. 34 to get to his feet quickly once he tags the bag since he will then have to bring his weight forward upon contact with the base. Although his right knee is slightly extended, the right leg should be in a more forward position, or the knee of the left leg should be bent a bit more under his right thigh. No. 34 certainly knows how to execute the bent-leg slide but he's demon-
strating all the common faults of the school player who is learning the art of this slide. To get to the base by the shortest possible route, use the basic straight-in slide exactly as being executed by the runner on page 193 who is raising a cloud of dust around third base. This runner made his take-off on his right leg. His upper leg is well above the ground, knee bent. Most runners will make their initial contact with the bag with the toe of this upper foot but the umpire tips us off that such is not the case here. The runner has evidently beaten the throw to the third baseman by so clear a margin that the outstretched index finger of the umpire furnishes the clue that the runner is safe. Since his left leg is raised and not in contact with the base, it is reasonable to assume that his bottom foot has already contacted the bag-There are two basic differences in the straight-in slide and the bent-leg slide. In making the take-off in the straight-in slide, the weight of the upper part of the body is thrown backward. In the bent-leg slide, the take-off is made closer to the base and the weight of the upper part of the body is thrown forward. Remember, weight thrown backward for the straightin slide, forward for the bent-leg slide. Hook Slide. — The hook slide is used to avoid being tagged. What better way to avoid a fielder than "hooking" away from his efforts? No. 4 (top left) steams into second base, intent on stretching his hit to right
field into a double. The second baseman has just snared the throw from the outfielder and knows that the runner will slide away from him and toward the pitcher's side of the base. The runner is taking off on his left foot (opposite page, middle) so the infielder knows the slide will be to the left since the runner will not be able to change directions once he has committed himself. Why does the runner choose to hook from the left? Because the infielder had to go to his left for the throw. Always hook away from the direction of the play. Into the slide goes No. 4 (opposite page, below), both knees bent, both feet turned to the side, the weight of the upper part of the body to the left and backward. Although the second baseman reaches desperately to make the tag, the runner continues away from him and over to his left.
Away goes the slider (above), safe and clear of the falling second baseman. As he slides, the runner brings his left foot forward and away from the base, with his right foot turned so that the instep faces the base, right leg bent and dragging across the ground. He hooks the inside corner of the bag with the toes of his right foot. Notice how the upper part of his body turns to the left, his right arm thrown across his chest and away from the second baseman. The open left palm is on the ground, absorbing some of the shock of the slide, along with the left thigh and leg. The same techniques are used in making the hook slide from the right. Here is a good time to remind the slider that the direction of the hook depends upon the position of the infielder. The advantage of this slide is to carry the runner away from the direction of the
throw. This type of slide is useless unless the runner can take advantage of its "carry-away" motion. The runner (opposite page) seems to have violated the basic rule of getting to the base in the quickest way possible. Since he slid on his left side, and his extended foot was the right, therefore the one closest to the bag, why did he first touch the base with the leg under the body? Comfort seems to be the answer for this type of slide. The runner, certain that he had the play beaten, merely continued to slide with his left leg bent under him. He saw no reason to touch the
base with his right foot on this particular play. Some runners will slide into a base this way, using the instep of the upraised foot to hook the striding foot of the fielder and thus prevent him from throwing on to another base. Kennie Boyer (below) breezes into third base in straight-in style. Boyer has made his fall to the right side, right knee bent under his left knee. Although his spikes seem headed for the third baseman's kneecap, such is not the case. Boyer is bringing his forward foot down and will touch the bag with the heel of his left foot.
This young player (below) shows how not to make the hook slide. He came racing toward second base in an effort to take an extra base on his hit to right field. The shortstop came over to the bag to take the throw on the mound side, leaving the outfield side of the base unprotected. The runner is pictured making this back-flopping hook slide only because he did not fall to the ground with one leg below his body. Instead he flopped on his backside, faded to his right and kicked the base with the instep of his left foot.
This type of slide is definitely not recommended. Yet there are some majorleaguers who still slide in this manner only because they prefer not to have a leg bent under their body when sliding into a base.
The Washington base-runner (above) getting around the Yankee catcher was forced to make the hook slide for a very basic reason — the catcher was blocking the plate and forced the runner outside. The runner, however, didn't give up on this play. Faced with the alternative of sliding straight into the catcher, hoping to knock the ball out of his glove, or trying to hook by him, he chose the proper course of action. The slide was started on the right side and the take-off foot was the right. The runner kept his right foot directly beneath him and brought the weight of his body forward, almost to an erect position. At the last moment he nicked the outside portion of the plate to carry home the run.
The play at second base (below) is going to be close as No. 4 goes to his right to take the throw from an outfielder as the batter-runner, No. 20, seems about to fall to his knees while balancing on the toes of his left foot. The fingers of his left palm are outstretched to absorb some of the shock of the fall and the slide.
Into the slide he goes (above) as No. 4 has now taken the throw-in a bit to the right of the bag and the runner. The slider has now succeeded in bending his left leg below his body as he raises his right foot, but the weight of the upper part of his body is forward and almost erect.
Over to the left moves the runner (below), his palm taking some of the weight of his body as he brings his right foot up to hook the inside corner of the bag. No. 4 just misses the tag. This is another example of the hook slide in which the runner takes off on the left foot and slides left. Always remember: Slide, or hook, away from the fielder's tag.
Leaning to his left, No. 4 is looking at the runner's leg action (above), wondering just where he can make the tag. The runner hasn't made contact with the bag as yet and No. 4 is going to lean forward and sweep down with his glove, hoping to get a piece of the slider's foot before it touches the base.
Head-on Slide. — The head-first, or headon, slide is used mostly when the runner taking a lead off base is forced to get back to that base in a hurry. You see most of these slides when runners on first or second base retreat to the bag when the pitcher or catcher attempts to pick them off. However, there are still some players who prefer to slide head-first into a base merely because they feel they get to the base quicker. The head-first slide is exactly the opposite of the straight-in slide, with the hand, instead of the toe, being used to touch the base. Perhaps the greatest of all head-first sliders was Pepper Martin (below), who
played for the famous St. Louis Cardinals Gas House Gang of 1934. Pepper was fast and extremely colorful but his dashing manner of sliding head-first into a base was imitated by many young players of his era. Could he slide feet first? Of course, and when the hook slide was required Pepper could "hook" with the best. Pepper's head-first slide is made on the front part of the body. Spring off your feet and throw your body forward, keeping your arms extended. The momentum will carry you straight into the bag. Phil Rizzuto, the little fireball of the
New York Yankees of years ago, was another player who made extensive use of the head-first slide. Phil (above), who always seemed to be sliding —not running — into a base, could also use the hook slide. However it's possible that he changed sliding styles on occasion to keep the infielders guessing. At least that
seems to be one worthwhile reason to use this type o£ slide. No. 36 (below) was on second base whe n t hi s ha p pe ne d . The pi tc he r whirled, threw to the shortstop covering the base and the runner was forced to retreat as quickly as possible. Therefore the head-first position.
THERE ARE so many different play positions and strategies that occur in this wonderful and complicated game of baseball that it would take almost two full volumes to illustrate and explain each of them so that they may be fully understood by the player of school age. Experience is the most valuable teacher for a player. The more games in which he plays, the more familiar he will become with many of the situations which come up inning by inning. No two games are alike and there are problems to solve, adjustments to make for both player and manager, or coach. Even one pitch, a ball
or a strike, can often change the complexion of a game. A decision by a coach may turn out to be a good one in Thursday's game. On Friday, the same decision may very well blow up in his face. Have patience with your teammates, listen to your coach. All players do not have the same mental reflexes, and where you may size up a situation properly and quickly, your teammate may be a trifle backward in arriving at the same solution. Your coach, of course, knows more than you. Listen to him. He will feel that he has done his job if he believes you have learned something from him.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
Pitcher Catcher First Base Second Base Third Base
6. 7. 8. 9.
Shortstop Left Field Center Field Right Field
The bases are empty and there is a menacing, long-ball hitting right-hander at the plate. The right-handed pitcher attempts to pitch away from the hitter's power zone, chest-high, but not every pitcher can always throw to the spot he is aiming for. Even the best of pitchers must make mistakes. That is why home runs are hit, that is why pitchers get roughed up and finally knocked out of the box. The pitcher comes in with a blistering fast ball but gets it just where the batter wants it — chest-high and a trifle outside. The bat whips around and the ball is propelled deep into left field. Fortunately the left-fielder is playing the batter in his "power-area" and doesn't have too far to gallop before catching up with the skipping drive. The batter now becomes a runner and knows that he will get at least two bases, and maybe three, on his smash. The defense starts to form as the left-fielder chases down the drive. The shortstop drops back into short left field, getting into position to take the throw from the left-fielder who has moved back and away from the diamond. The second baseman moves over in front of his base where he can watch the left-fielder, the shortstop and the runner and tell the shortstop what to do once he receives the throw.
The third baseman straddles the base, ready to make a play at his station if the runner decides to go for a triple. The pitcher and first baseman should also get in motion on this type of situation. The pitcher moves over into the foul area directly behind the third baseman so that he protects against a wild throw or a muff of the throw by the third baseman. The first baseman moves over to the third-base line, getting in position to take an unnecessary throw that may go through to the plate. As the runner steams into second base the shortstop catches the throw from the left-fielder. Since the shortstop's back is toward the play he can't see what is happening. Here is where the second baseman becomes his "eyes" by shouting directions to the shortstop. If there is a chance to nail the runner at second, he will tell the shortstop to throw to that base where he is in position to take the toss. If the runner is heading toward third, he will tell the shortstop to peg to the third baseman. There is nothing complicated about shaping the defense on this type of play. There is only one runner to worry about. If the second baseman does his job by letting the shortstop know what to do with the ball, the play may not result in a put-out but it will be accomplished properly and efficiently.
That same long-ball hitting righthander is at the plate again. This time the pitcher — the same fellow who threw to the batter's power zone in Play No. 1 — is insistent about pitching "away" from the batter. He throws him outside because he now knows the batter has unusually good power on any pitch he can hit to left field. The batter looks at three pitches — all curve balls — and the count is one ball and two strikes. Now starts the thinking bout between hitter and pitcher. The hitter reasons that the pitcher will continue to throw outside because he (the pitcher) can afford to miss the strike zone now that he is ahead in the ball-andstrike count. Sure enough the pitcher lets loose another curve — hoping it will get over a corner of the plate —but the batter already has shifted his feet in order to hit it to right field. He snaps his bat at the pitch and raps it into right field, far and away. Since the right-fielder is playing way over into right-center for this leftfield pull-hitter, it seems certain that he'll wind up with a triple, or maybe a home run. The defense immediately snaps into action. The right-fielder goes back and to his left to snare the bouncing ball. The second baseman dashes out to short right field to take the relay throw as the short-
stop moves toward second base, ready to tell the second baseman what to do once he catches the relay. The third baseman anchors at his base. The pitcher, or left-fielder, runs in back of third base to back up the possible throw there. The first baseman can move between third base and home plate or back up the catcher. Now the throw comes to the second baseman from the right-fielder, fired on the fly. If the runner is heading for third base, the shortstop will instruct the second baseman to peg there. If the runner is heading home, the instructions will be to toss to the plate. The throw to either base, if not too long, should be made on the fly. By all means, the right-fielder, after picking up the ball, should not attempt to throw directly to third base or the plate. If he has gone back rather deep to retrieve the wallop, the throw will be much too long to make, especially for the outfielder of school age. Although he doesn't handle the ball, the shortstop is the key man in this play. He must size up the situation in a hurry. Throw to third ba se? Throw to the plate? He may even tell the second baseman to hold the ball, especially if the runner is already sliding into third base and there's no chance to get him. In that event, the second baseman should turn and run into the infield with the ball.
No play in baseball is as simple as it looks. Remember that and you will make fewer mistakes than the player who takes the easy play for granted. To play the game well and properly there must be a logical reason for every move, every step, every throw. Let us examine this play. This is a simple pop fly, nothing else, a nd it should be turned into an out. Of course there is always the possibility of two infielders fighting each other for the opportunity to catch the ball. So they collide and the ball falls untouched. There is also the slim possibility that an infielder, standing alone and with his teammates shouting encouragement, will drop the ball. That is why baseball is such an unpredictable and exciting sport. The inevitable will always crop up if you don't stay on your toes — and on the ball. Okay, let us see what happens when the batter, fooled by a change-up pitch, swings under the ball and lifts a pop to the left side of the infield. Who is going to make the catch? The ball is hit high enough for even the first baseman to come over to nab the pop so there doesn't seem to be much of a problem for any of the infielders to camp under the high pop. The pitcher, whenever possible, should not catch one of these pops. There's always the danger that he will trip while moving around the mound. He may also stick one of his pitching fingers into the
ball while reaching up for the catch. Coaches like to have their pitchers stay away from pop-ups, unless, of course, they come straight at him and there's no time for another infielder to make the catch. Since the ball is descending in front of both the shortstop and third baseman, one of these two will make the catch. Position play is important here. If the batter is a left-handed hitter it is reasonable to assume that the third baseman, playing over to his left, is closer to the pop. Then he should make the catch with the shortstop letting him know "it's all yours." Conversely, if a right-handed hitter has lifted this pop-up, the third baseman would be closer to the foul line and the shortstop would then be closer to the ball. Then the shortstop should make the catch. However, either infielder is in easy position to make the catch. The important point is that one or the other should make the catch, with the pitcher or the catcher shouting to one of the two infielders, informing him just who should make the catch. The other infielders are not to stand and watch the play. The first baseman should drift over to his position and the second baseman should move over to his bag. The ball can always be dropped and the first and second baseman will then be in proper position to make a play if the batter-runner rounds first base while the ball is being mishandled.
The defense never rests. A defensive team that permits only the players involved to complete a play is not doing a job. The heads-up defensive team will never allow the routine play to be made by not preparing for an error of execution. There is nothing more routine than the ground ball hit to the shortstop. A nice, medium-hit grounder to a surefielding shortstop with the bases clear shapes up as an obvious out. But is it always? The smart defensive club does not take it for granted. It makes its moves to help the shortstop, making the stop of the grounder, and the first baseman, taking the throw, if they need it. The ball comes skipping toward the shortstop. He moves in one step in order to get into throwing position. But the other fielders are also moving at the same time. The left-fielder races in from his post to protect against the possibility of a clean muff of the grounder by the shortstop or a bad hop at the last moment. This hop may skip by the shortstop and into the outfield. The center-fielder, too, keeps on his toes. He moves toward the play, preparing for the possibility of the bad hop that may bounce weirdly over
into his territory. The pitcher follows the path of the grounder. Who knows but that the ball may bounce off the shortstop's body and carom toward the pitcher. These things do happen and the pitcher might as well be ready. The second baseman gets over in front of his base to be there in the case the ball hops off some part of the shortstop's body or glove. The first baseman, of course, waits on the throw which is to come after the shortstop makes the pick-up, and the right-fielder ambles into short right field to cover any throw which is wild enough by the shortstop to come his way. The catcher doesn't stay on hi s haunches and watch the shortstop make his play. He should follow the batterrunner toward first base, always anticipating a bad throw by the shortstop or a muff by the first baseman of the throw. When one of these two possibilities occurs, the catcher is then in the right place if he's in the vicinity of first base. Many a catcher has kept the batter-runner from taking an extra base just because he knew how to hustle down on such a play. A team can be considered well-coached if it makes all these moves on what looks like a routine play.
Nothing can make a defensive team look as bad as a short, drooping fly ball that is too far in for an outfielder to reach and too far out for an infielder to grab. You can almost hear the infielders and outfielders stretch and strain as they attempt to reach one of these tantalizingly soft flies which causes a mass movement by infield and outfield. Many of them are catchable. Those that are not, however, sometimes bring the batter a two-base hit only because some defensive player forgot to make the right move. Here we have the batter lifting a low fly ball beyond the reach of the infield into short center field. The ball is popped beyond the reach of the second baseman and shortstop and a trifle in front of the onrushing center-fielder. What does the defense do on this type of play? Certainly it does not give up. Let us assume the batter is a lefthanded hitter. In that event the shortstop will be playing to his left and closer to short center field than the second baseman, who is pulled over toward the firstbase side of the infield. The shortstop then is closer to the fly ball and he should pursue it. Naturally, if a right-handed hitter lifts this type of fly over the infield, as in this play, then the second baseman is closer to short center field and he should be the player who chases back for the fly. The center-fielder comes in at top
speed. There is always the possibility that a slight wind will hold the ball in the air long enough for him, or one of the infielders, to make the catch. That is why the fielders should never give up on this type of low fly. If both second baseman and shortstop turn their backs toward the diamond and dart out for the fly, they are inviting trouble. If the ball drops the batter-runner may end up at second base unless one of the other players does his job. The best type of defensive move on such a play is to have the third baseman, or pitcher, run to second base and cover that bag. The catcher then moves down to third base to protect that spot. The first baseman stays close to his bag because the batter-runner may turn toward second base, decide to retreat to first base and the first baseman should be available to take any incoming throw. Many coaches like to have their shortstop make the call on such a play. Yet how can he if his back is to the ball as he races into short center field, watching for the fly as it comes over his shoulder? The best bet is to have the player coming in and facing the ball make the call. This would be the center-fielder. There is nothing one can do if this type of fly ball drops untouched, but there is no excuse for the batter to turn it into a two-base hit simply because second base is left uncovered.
Nothing is more frustrating to a defensive team than to watch a base-runner from first base streak into third on a onebase hit by the batter. It is especially so when more alert and heads-up defensive play may have prevented the base-runner on first base from going into third base. This extra base by the runner, so very valuable especially when there are less than two out, puts additional pressure on the pitcher and his team. Many times, through proper positioning, it can be prevented. Sometimes, however, there is nothing the defense can do to prevent the base-runner from advancing to third following a single. A bounding ball up the middle takes quite a while to reach the outfield. The fast and smart runner can steam into third without too much trouble on this type of single. The single to right field also makes it difficult for the defense to prevent the base-runner from taking the extra base. But no matter in which direction the single is hit with a runner on first, there are certain moves the defensive players should make only because it is expected of them if they are to be considered ball players. The single to right field usually will get a base-runner to third base, provided the right-fielder isn't playing too shallow and the hit is not a sharp liner which gets to the right-fielder quickly. The throw from right field to third base is long and chances are good that a fast runner who gets a good jump on the base hit will streak into third base. But the defense should not "give" the runner this extra base. Set up a defense to prevent it, and also against the possibility of the batter-
runner storming into second base on the throw to third. The defense on this type of play is uncomplicated. Let's say our batter drives safely into short right-center. The runner gets off at the crack of the bat and the right-fielder moves swiftly to his right, picks up the ball and is now ready to whip it back into the infield. He sees the base-runner making his turn at second, headed for third. Knowing his arm is strong and accurate enough to make a try, he pegs toward third base as the center-fielder helps out by yelling "third base, third base." The throw is made low, designed to get to the third baseman on one hop. It is also kept low so that the shortstop can cut it off if necessary. Now here's what should happen as the runner rounds second and the rightfielder uncorks his throw: The pitcher moves behind third base to back up the third baseman; the second baseman wheels into his bag for a possible play there and the shortstop gets in direct line of the throw, stationing himself in position where he can cut it off. The third baseman now lets the shortstop know what to do. The cut-off by the shortstop will definitely hold the batter-runner at first, but will permit the base-runner to get to third. If the third baseman wants the ball to come through to him, the sliding base-runner may still be safe at third and the batter-runner may wind up at second base. Of course it's a gamble, either way, but that's what makes baseball such an exciting venture.
A bunt situation keeps everybody on his toes. Every fielder gets into the act when the batter drops one down and the runner, or runners, begin digging to the next base. There is nothing like a bunt to start all the defense moving. When a batter is sent to the plate with specific instructions to bunt, why attempt to deceive the defense? The team in the field knows the score of the game, the inning, the batter and exactly what will happen in such a situation. If the obvious play is the bunt, get up to the plate and don't wait to get into your bunt stance just as the pitch is approaching the plate. As the pitcher goes into his stretch motion, the batter should go into his bunt stance. He is then ready to "lay one down." But is the defense ready? If not, they don't belong on the team. Here's how the defense should form in the ninth inning, winning run perched on first base, nobody out, and the No. 1 or No. 2 batter in the lineup at the plate. The bunt is a good one, trickling out toward the first-base side of the plate. None of the infielders are caught sleeping because the bunt is expected. The pitcher has already come down off the mound, the first baseman has run toward the plate, the shortstop has moved over to cover second, the second baseman has dashed over to cover first base and the catcher has flung his mask to the side and is moving up on the bunted ball. Who picks it up? Well, since it is rolling close to home plate, on the first base
side, the third baseman had better backtrack to third base. He is too far away to pick it up. The catcher is right above the ball, so is the first baseman, and the pitcher is on the side of it. If these three fielders are in these positions, then it is easier and safer for the catcher to pick up the ball. This is so because the ball is in front of him and he is in good position to see how far the base-runner is from second base. If the catcher picks up the ball, the pitcher shouts instructions, telling him which base to throw to. If pitcher or first baseman makes the pick-up, the catcher calls the play. In this play, the catcher made the throw to first base, the second baseman covering. The outfielders, too, must make moves when a bunt is laid down with a runner, or runners, on base. The right-fielder moves to his left and jogs over into short right field. The center-fielder hurries to a position behind second base, anticipating a throw to the bag where he is in perfect back-up position. The left-fielder moves off to his right and in toward third base. After all, he doesn't know how many wild throws will be made in an attempt to catch either the base runner or the batter, so he prepares for a possible play at third base. Nothing the fielders do can prevent a bunt from being laid down. But they certainly can keep the offensive team from taking more bases than it is logically entitled to. And this they do by making the proper moves.
A bunt play with runners perched on first and second base is a tricky and sticky situation. Too much can go wrong for the team in the field, especially if someone forgets his assignment. Often one or two infielders are caught where they are not supposed to be. The result? Both runners advance and the batter reaches first base without hardly drawing a deep breath. The bases are full and the pitcher wonders if it's all worth it. It even happens in the big leagues, and it will happen, and often does, in your school or community league if your team doesn't protect itself at all flanks. First, what has happened here? Well, the batter gets off a bunt to the left of the plate and a little less than halfway toward the third-base side. The pitcher, in coming off the mound, goes over slightly to the first-base side to protect that area, thus the third baseman has to come in to field the bunt and peg it on over to first base where the second baseman is covering. The shortstop moves to second base for a possible throw there. Why was the bunt made toward third base?. This is the best place to bunt a ball with runners on first and second, or just second. Get that third baseman to move in and away from his base and the batter has accomplished his purpose. Many sharp-fielding teams, however, will align their defense to meet this situation. The third baseman will be instructed to anchor at third base no matter what, all because the team in the field wants desperately to try for a force -out at third
base. Here is the best way to move your defense if this is what you want to accomplish. As the pitcher delivers, he comes off the mound toward the third-base, not first-base, side. He is then covering part of the area normally protected by the third baseman. Have the first baseman come down the line and then move toward the pitcher's mound. The danger in this type of defense is that there is one less infielder available to field the bunt — the third baseman — and more holes in the infield through which to push the bunt. Once the bunt is covered, by first baseman or pitcher, the catcher calls the play. If the catcher picks up the bunt, a quick glance toward third base will tell him if he has a chance to make the put -out there. If not, he should automatically peg down to first base to nail the batter. Very often, if the bunt is picked up fast enough, a double play may result. Putout at third, over the diamond to first base for the second out. The outfielders again move according to the instructions in Play No. 7. Many years ago Branch Rickey, one of baseball's finest minds, devised a radical defensive strategy to meet this situation. He practiced with the third baseman, pitcher and first baseman all converging on the bunt. Who covered third base? The left-fielder! Silly? Not when the batter is a notoriously weak batter and the runners on base represent the tying and winning runs in the ninth inning.
Cut-off plays take many forms depending, of course, upon such factors as number of runners on base, what base, direction of the hit, etc. Sometimes, the pitcher, out of necessity, must take the incoming throw from the outfield, or at least get into position to cut it off when necessary. This play serves to illustrate the role of the pitcher as the cut-off player. There is one striking inconsistency in this illustration, all of which will be pointed out. With a runner on second base, the batter slashes a hit to left field. The leftfielder charges the ball, knowing full well that the runner has already started for third. It is two out and there's a very good possibility that the runner may get the nod from the third -base coach to keep running, hoping to beat the throw. Many left-fielders in this type of situation sometimes take the safe way out. They give up the run in order to hold the batter-runner to a single. However, there is no need to do this — if the cut-off man gets into position and does his job, depending upon the catcher's instructions. In throwing the ball plateward, the left-fielder should throw low, on the line and reach the plate on one hop. Here, the pitcher moves on over toward the third-base side of the infield to make a cut-off if necessary. The ball is thrown
in and the catcher calls the play. That is, he tells the pitcher to cut-off the ball. If the pitcher does this, the batter-runner will have to be an extremely gifted runner to get more than a single out of the play. Why is the cut-off made? The runner from second is on his way to the plate, a certain bet to beat the throw. Therefore the catcher concedes the run but advises the pitcher to take the throw in an effort to hold the batter to just a single. Here is the glaring inconsistency referred to earlier. There is nobody backing up the catcher. Very poor defensive maneuvering, and that is why, back in Play No. 1, it was suggested that the pitcher does not serve as the cut-off man. In this play the pitcher would be wiser to get behind the catcher and have the shortstop serve as the cut-off player. The second baseman and first baseman must man their positions because there could be a play on the batter-runner following, either on a throw from the catcher or the cut-off man. The third baseman, too, must remain glued to his post. The runner from second may start for the plate, then decide to backtrack when he sees that the throw has him beaten. T he catcher, once he has the ball, is helpless unless there's someone at third base to take his throw. Therefore, third baseman, stay where you are in this situation.
The defense for a double play, with runners on first and second, depends upon the type of batter (lefty or righty) and the situation at the time. If the No. 3, 4 or 5 batter is at the plate, none out or one out, and the offensive team is attempting to mount a rally and play for a big inning, the infield knows that it must play back and try for the double play on the ground ball. Since the bunt factor is eliminated because the offensive team is going for a big inning, or because there is already one out, the defense pulls back here with all infielders playing a normal depth. Let us assume there is none out and the outlook is promising for the offensive team. When getting into double play position, the infielders, particularly the second baseman and shortstop, "cheat" a little. That is they play as close to second base as possible without giving the batter too much of a hole to hit through on either side of the infield. For example, the batter, if left-handed, would normally be played by the second baseman shaded slightly toward first base. But in this case the second baseman cannot afford to play too far away from second base. Also, the shortstop, with a righty at the plate, normally would play shaded slightly toward third base. Now, with a possible double play situation, he doesn't take this position but also stays as close to second base as reasonably possible.
Let us assume the batter raps sharply to the shortstop. It is no trick at all for the second baseman to get over, take the toss, make the pivot and peg on to first for the double play. The runner on first base and the batter are then eliminated, and the runner from second has gone to third. The first baseman, after receiving the toss for the second out, should be alert and remember that there is now a base-runner on third. The first baseman comes off his bag and moves toward the direction of the plate, his eyes on the base-runner at third. The third baseman stays at his base and holds the runner close. On a double play attempt, all outfielders should advance on the infield, getting in position to field a wild throw by the shortstop or second baseman. The catcher should not run down toward first base to protect against an over-throw because the runner breaking from second could then round third and go on to the plate if he notices that it has been left unguarded. There is little for a pitcher to do but watch and hope in a double play of this type. If he wants to be of help, he should move behind the third baseman and be in back-up position if the first baseman, after taking the pivot man's throw, attempts to throw to third in an effort to nail the base-runner who might have taken a wide turn around third, ready to break for the plate.
It is not always necessary to make a double play from short to second to first, or second to short to first, with runners on first and second and less than two out. Although these are the most obvious double play situations, sometimes the front end of the double play may be made at third or at first. Let's examine all the double play possibilities in this situation. Runners on first and second, third baseman playing close to the foul line. Batter raps sharp bounder to third baseman who is but two or three steps away from the bag. He should dash to the bag, make the force on the base-runner coming down from second by stepping on the base, and then whip over to first base for the DP. Same situation as in this play, but this time the bounder is hit to the left of the third baseman. Upon making his pick-up he knows that he's too far away from his base to make a play at third. Therefore he starts the double play by tossing over to second base. The shortstop must then go to his right and cover third base because it was left unguarded once the third baseman went to his left to play the ground ball. The first baseman may also be confronted with the same situation. With runners on first and second the first baseman should be playing right on his base, keeping the runner as close to first as possible. If a sharp grounder comes his way, he has one of three choices: Throw to third for a force on the runner coming down from second; throw to second for a force on the runner coming down from first, or step on the base and then throw
to third or second. If he chooses the latter play, the baseman to whom he throws must then tag the incoming runner, not the base, since the force has been eliminated once the batter is first retired at first base. Normally, a first baseman capturing a grounder hit straight at him, should throw down to second for the force, and take the return throw in an attempt to complete the DP. Very rarely should the first baseman try to get the "front" out in this situation, meaning play the runner going into third. However, if it is the last inning, none out, and that runner represents the winning run, strategy may dictate that he be headed off only if the first baseman is certain that he can get the ball over to third in time to make the put-out. Why head off the winning run? Well, if the runner gets to third safely — and the double play is missed via first to second and back to first — he'll probably score on a fly ball, a hit for sure. However, if the first baseman is certain that he can convert the grounder into a double play, by all means make the play via second base. Then the runner from second goes to third, but there are now two out. The pitcher should get over to first base on any grounder hit to the first baseman, especially if the first baseman is forced to stray to his right to play the batted ball. The shortstop is the pivot man with a lefty at the plate; the second baseman makes the pivot with a righty at the plate. The outfielders again should start toward the infield on this play.
For reasons unexplained, a defensive team always feels uncomfortable when the attacking club has runners on first and third. Somehow, runners on first and third seem to lead to more complications than a bases-loaded situation. Defensing a first-and-third situation depends again on the status of the game. The inning, the score, type of batter, etc., all must be considered before the defense decides just how it is to play the batter. Normally, an infield will play in close to cut the run off at the plate if the man at third represents the tying or winning run. If it is the early or middle innings, with none or one out, the defense normally will play back, allow the run to score and take a chance on completing a double play via a ground ball. Always play for the double play if the base-runner at third represents neither the tying nor winning run. The runner on third base, when the infield plays deep with one out, must break for the plate on a grounder. This eliminates the double play possibility if, for some reason, the infielder throws to the plate. With none out, however, the runner on third must play it safe. If he is cut down at the plate, his team will then have runners on first and second with one out and a hit required to score a run. If he does not break from third base and the grounder only results in one out, then the runner on third is still in good position to score on an infield out or outfield fly by the following batter. In this play the pitcher has fielded a "come-backer," a one hopper smashed to
him by the batter. Ignore the runner on third because there is an easy double play coming up, providing there is no wild throw or dropped ball. That is, ignore the runner if there is one out and the grounder can be converted into the DP. If there is none out and the runner at third represents the tying or winning run, fake a throw to third base and then wheel to second base with your throw. The second baseman should be in position at the bag to take the throw if the hitter is a righty; the shortstop should be at the bag if the hitter is a lefty. If the runner from third now breaks for the plate on the pitcher's throw to second base, the throw must be made to the plate. The third baseman must remain at the bag to hold the runner, and the center-fielder should be advancing to-` ward second base to back up the play. Many coaches, or managers, will play their infield differently in such a situation. If the batter is right-handed and a power hitter, they may instruct their third baseman and shortstop to play a normal depth but pull the second baseman and first baseman in tight. If a lefthanded power hitter, the second baseman and first baseman may move to a normal depth with the third baseman and shortstop pulled in tight. Just what happens on a ground ball hit to either side depends upon the score, the number of outs, the inning, the type of grounder. Remember, defenses can always be set to meet any situation, but then the play must develop according to the defensive set-up if it is to be successful.
The first-and-third situation always presents the danger of a double steal. Young players somehow panic when they are on defense in such a set-up and a double steal is being attempted. In seven cases out of ten something usually goes wrong with their defensive planning and the two base-runners successfully accomplish their mission. This is not good and measures should be taken to protect as well as possible against this type of double steal. The pitcher must be helped as much as possible. To help him the first baseman guards the runner on first by playing on the home-plate side of the bag, his right foot against the bag. The third baseman must also play close to the man at third, thus holding this base-runner's lead to a minimum. The pitcher, too, helps himself by not taking a wind-up. He should pitch from a stretch position if he wants to keep the runners close to their respective bases. In this play we assume that the batter is a straightaway hitter. That is he hits the inside pitch to left field, the outside pitch to right field and the pitch thrown down the middle toward the middle of the diamond. Thus either the second baseman or shortstop can take the throw from the catcher on an attempted steal. Since the batter is not a pull hitter, both second baseman and shortstop are in excellent position to combine their efforts at second base. The runner from first starts for second base on the pitch to the plate. The second baseman breaks from his position and gets in front of the bag as the short-
stop also races toward second base. The second baseman is maybe three steps in front of the bag as the throw comes to the shortstop, who is on the bag. If it is two out and the shortstop sees that he has a good chance to nail the runner coming down from first, he instructs the second baseman to let the throw go through so that he can make a play on the runner coming into the bag. If he sees that the base-runner will beat the throw, he instructs the second baseman to cut-off the throw and return it to the catcher in an attempt to nail the runner coming to the plate from third base. Of course this is easier to read than to execute. Smart base-runners can upset all this strategy. If the runner on first suddenly halts between first and second, what to do? If the runner on third starts to break for the plate and then stops, what to do? The defense must consider the importance of the run. If it means winning or tying the game, all attention should be placed on the runner at third. If the run from third is unimportant, then don't bother about it and play the runner coming down from second. The outfielders must also be alert. They should move in on the infield and protect against over-throws. The second baseman and shortstop must work as a smooth-functioning team on a double steal attempt with runners on first and third base. One is only as good as the other. The second baseman who gets in front of the bag must be instructed what to do once the catcher's throw is on the way.
A right-handed pull hitter at the plate with runners on first and third base means that the defense must shift slightly to its right and therefore puts the second baseman on the spot in a double steal attempt. This type of defense is necessary if the fielders are anxious to cut down on the hitter's power alleys, and the shortstop and third baseman must be moved to the right if this is to be done. The third baseman gets close to the third-base line and the shortstop moves into the hole between short and third. The area between the shortstop and second base is wide open and any grounder headed in that direction is certain to roll safely into the outfield. But that is what must be done if the defensive team wants to effectively close up the hitter's areas. Thus, the second baseman also moves to his right and closer to the bag, and with runners on first and third he is the only man involved in a double steal attempt once the catcher wings back the throw with the runner from first breaking toward second base. Before a pitch is delivered, the defe nse must make up it s mind a s t o what course of action it will take on any number of situations. Since this play concerns the double steal, it must decide: Shall we play the base-runner coming into second, or shall we make an attempt to nail the runner breaking for the plate from third base? The pitch comes in. It is a pitch-out because the catcher reasons that the offensive team will attempt a double
steal. The team in the field leads by two runs in the eighth inning. So the second baseman is then instructed to get over to the bag and make a play only on the runner coming from first base. What if the runner stops halfway? There is no problem. Just concentrate on running him down between first and second base in an attempt to get the put-out. Permit the run to score since it seems logical to allow a run in order to get an out when leading by more than one run. What to do when the runner on third — in this first-and-third situation — represents the winning or tying run? If the team in the field is faced with a double steal with the winning run on third, the easiest way out is to permit the runner from first base to take second base on a steal attempt. In other words, the second baseman should not play the runner from first base. Instead, after receiving the throw from the catcher, he should rush toward the middle part of the diamond, watching the runner on third base. No harm has been done if the runner from first is allowed to take second without a play being made on him — with the score tied in the ninth inning. After all, it is the base -runner on third who represents the winning run. But, by all means, do not allow the runner from first to steam into second base without a play being made on him when the tying runner is perched on third base. Why? Because that runner going into second represents the winning run and can now score from that spot on an outfield single.
The run-down play always brings the fans to their feet and the fielders to their toes. There is never so much excitement and action in the infield as when a clever base-runner who is fast and shifty gets trapped off a base. Of course, you might say that no clever baserunner gets trapped off any base. This may be so, but a runner who does not take some chances cannot be considered a dangerous and effective base-runner. The best of them — Willie Mays, Luis Aparicio, Vada Pinson — on occasion get trapped off a bag because they are caught leaning the wrong way, the pitcher's motion fools them or the catcher calls for a pitch-out when they are taking an extraordinarily long lead and his peg gets to a base before they're able to scramble back. Any base-runner who is caught flatfooted off the bag by a throw from the pitcher or the catcher should not at tempt to immediately dart back into the bag he was stationed on. Instead he should advance toward the next base and jockey back and fort h between bases while the infielders are closing in on him. A runner trapped off a base is not a sure out. Any time players throw and catch a ball there is an element of chance. So, you runners should not give yourself up on this type of play. You fielders should not be over-confident of getting an easy out. In this play we notice that the runner on first is caught off by a quick toss by
the pitcher. The runner breaks for second and the chase is underway. The first baseman, who now has the ball after receiving it from the pitcher, runs the runner toward second base. The shortstop goes over to cover the base and take the throw from the first baseman as the second baseman darts behind the first baseman and covers first base. The pitcher, too, can move over to first base to help out. The first baseman throws the ball to the shortstop and the runner stops and reverses his field, going back to first base. If the pitcher is at that base, the first baseman can get in back of the shortstop as the pitcher backs up the second baseman, who has gone over to first base. Here are the fielders and the bases they cover: At second base, the first baseman and shortstop; at first base, the second baseman and pitcher. Notice that the catcher has gone way over into foul territory, backing-up in the event the first baseman or shortstop makes a wild throw past first base. The left and center-fielders come in to protect against an over-throw past second base, and the third baseman stays close to his bag. In the event of an over-throw the runner may round second and try for third base. When chasing an embarrassed runner, it is always best to run him back to that base furthest from home plate. Thus in event of an error of commission, an extra base is not taken by the runner.
Catching a runner off second base is indeed an art and requires precision timing and coordination. We are not referring to the run-down that follows, but the throw from the pitcher, or catcher, which first gets to the infielder covering second before the runner can get back in time. Several teams employ a count-system to nail wandering runners off second base. This is accomplished by the shortstop (or second baseman) and pitcher agreeing on a set signal on which the throw will be made to the bag and the shortstop will slip behind the runner to make the tag. Here is how it goes. Say the pitcher and shortstop agree on the signal of onethousand four. When the pitcher steps on the pitcher's mound, both shortstop and pitcher start counting silently: "Onethousand one, one-thousand two" and on to one-thousand four. At the last count, the shortstop races behind the runner to the bag and the pitcher wheels and tosses to second base in an effort to nail the runner. The count-system is only effective when the pitcher and shortstop believe they have a good chance to catch the runner off the base. Also, to really lull the runner into a false sense of security, pitcher and shortstop should attempt several pick-off throws with no established pattern. The pitcher should even throw to the bag when the runner is perhaps only a step away from the base. This will "set-up" the runner for
a serious attempt at a pick-off. A base-runner caught off second base should start on toward third, and begin a run-down play as indicated in this illustration. The pitcher wheels and fires to second base. The shortstop is the most likely fielder to take the throw with a left-handed pull hitter at the plate; the second baseman will take the toss if there's a right-handed power blaster at bat. Also, if it is a bunt situation the shortstop should stay as close to second base as possible and he will take the pitcher's toss. Let us say the shortstop has received the pitcher's pick-off peg. The runner starts toward third and the run-down is on. The shortstop pegs to the third baseman as the pitcher races over behind third to help out. The second baseman gets behind the shortstop. Thus your run-down alignment has the third baseman and pitcher covering third base, shortstop and second baseman covering second base. The left and center-fielders move toward the infield to guard against over-throws, and the first baseman can also get over toward second base to help out. Again it is urged that an attempt be made to chase the runner to that base furthest from home. Since he started for third, all efforts should be made to make the play at second base. Thus in the event of a wild throw or a muff no extra base has been reached and the only thing lost is an almost certain out.
Running the bases seems a simple art. It isn't. There is a definite way to run to and past each of the three bases on the field and the runner who knows when to swing out or in will be the most successful. It has been said time and time again: Baseball is a game of inches. And so it is with base running. An extra half step, although it doesn't seem important at first glance, can win or lose a game. The smart and adaptable player learns quickly how to save a step here and there when speeding around the bases. He is the player to fear once he becomes a baserunner. The illustration charts the progress of one runner circling the bases on a ball hit between the outfielders. This is a try for extra bases, and the proper turns around the bases may mean the difference between a triple or a home run. The right-handed hitter, the illustration shows, must approach first base by running in front of home plate. The lefthanded hitter can break straight down the line after contact has been made with the ball. On the approach to first base, the runner should swing slightly wide of the first-base foul line and then cut to his left as he approaches the bag, touching the inside, or infield, side of the bag. Many coaches instruct their base-runners to hit the bag with their inside, or left, foot. They claim that this foot serves as the push-off foot when going to the next base.
However, the runner should hit the base with his natural stride. In other words, if his right foot is the one to make contact with the bag, hit the inside of the bag with this foot and then push off for second base. The run to second base should be made, as illustrated — on the inside part of the diamond. This cannot be done if you swing wide around first base. The only way to stay on the inside part of the base-line is to cut the inside corner of first base. When three or four steps from second base, run slightly to the outside and then cut in to touch the inside corner of the bag. Once touching the bag, take the same path toward third base, remembering to circle slightly to the right and then cut in when three or four steps from the base. The most common mistake made by base-runners occurs when they approach a base. Instead of cutting inside the bag, many take the long way around by cutting wide and into the outfield side of the infield before getting back on the inside portion of the infield. This is timeconsuming and means extra steps, sometimes the difference between a double and a triple. The smart base-runner saves steps. To save steps, take the inside routes. These base-running situations also apply to runners already on base who start toward home plate after the batter hits the ball.
Coaching and Strategy
SCHOOL TEAMS have one coach who directs all play, offensively and defensively. He usually sits on the bench and gives signals to the first-base and third-base coaches, who in turn pass them on to the batter or base-runner. The head coach of a team is responsible for planning all the pre-game strategy and the tactics during the game. He makes up the lineup, placing his hitters in the batting positions he believes will bring the most runs. In planning the lineup, he must also consider which players are hitting the ball well, which players are in a slump and which players do well against the pitcher they will have to face. Even the batter "on deck" serves as a coach when there's a play at the plate. The batter waiting his turn is in the best position to tell the runner coming to the plate whether to slide or come in standing. No. 1 (here), by holding his left arm high, palm facing the ground, has told his Red Sox teammate to slide into the plate.
Most coaches stick to the same formula in making up a batting order. The No. 1 hitter is fast afoot, an excellent judge of a ball and a strike, and a player who is hard to pitch to because he is small or has an unusual stance. This player should have the ability to draw a great number of walks, thus getting in position to start his team toward a run. The No. 2 hitter should have about the same qualifications as the lead-off man, but he should be good as a bunter and a batter who can hit to right field. A single to right field by the No. 2 batter, if the lead-off hitter is on base, most likely will result in a first-and-third situation. The Nos. 3, 4 and 5 batters should be the power hitters. There is really not much difference in whether the No. 4 hitter should bat third, or vice versa. However, it is good policy to have your strongest batter hit in the No. 3 spot. In this way he is certain of getting up in the first inning, and over the nine innings may get more chances to bat than the Nos. 4 and 5 hitters. It's interesting to note that Babe Ruth, baseball's greatest slugger, batted in the No. 3 spot throughout most of his career. The No. 6 hitter should be a bit stronger than the No. 7 batter since he may have more opportunities to drive in runs than the No. 7 man. The No. 8 batter is perhaps the weakest hitter in the lineup, with the pitcher following in the No. 9 position. Many school coaches who have a pitch-
er who is also a fine hitter, will place the pitcher much higher in the lineup. There is nothing wrong with this strategy, particularly if the pitcher is strong and physically able to carry the hitting, as well as the pitching burden. Signals. — Each hitter should know just when to be alert for a signal. Sometimes the situation is so obvious that the hitter automatically knows he is on his "own" at the plate. With bases empty and one or two strikes on the batter, it's quite obvious that the coach is not going to tell him to "take" a pitch. To take a pitch means to let one go by. This signal is usually given when the batter is ahead of the pitcher in the ball -and-strike count, or if the coach wants the batter to take the first pitch from the pitcher in the hope that it will be a ball. Don't be discouraged if you are ordered to take a pitch as you get to the plate. There is nothing wrong with this strategy, especially if the pitcher is inclined to have a little control trouble. A pitcher who gets behind in the count constantly is in trouble, and when the count gets two balls and no strikes, or three balls and one strike, you may then get the pitch which you will be able to drive out for a safe hit. The hit-and-take strategies are very important and the coach who knows just when to apply them will win his share of games. Many teams have their right-handed batters look to the first -base coach for a signal, and the left-handed batters look to the third-base coach. No matter how a signal is communicated, it is important
that all the players know just where to look to receive the signal. There are many ways in which signals can be flashed. Hand to cap, hand to leg, hand to knee, hand to face, etc. But no matter how they are given, they should be simple. Leave the complicated series of signals to the major leagues. They are forced to change s i g n s constantly throughout the season because players are traded from one team to another and one club plays another twenty-two times during the season, a sufficient number of games in which to steal a tell-tale sign. The third-base coach (above) has told
the runner coming into third base, in no uncertain hand language, that he must "hit the dirt." His palms are outstretched and face the ground, the universal signal to slide. The third-base coach sometimes tells the incoming runner just where to slide into the bag in order to avoid any possible tag by the third baseman. This runner (below), if he had his eye on the coach's outstretched finger, immediately knew that the coach wanted him to slide toward the outfield side of the bag. An alert coach who flashes signs like this is a valuable asset to his team since such a signal may very easily be the difference between a runner being safe or out.
Another sign the batter passes on — after receiving it from a coach — is the hit-and-run (below). A simple sign for this play is to have the batter tug at his belt with both hands as he holds the bat in his left hand. The squeeze, sacrifice and hit-and-run signs can be anything you want them to be. The way a batter holds his bat, the way he tugs at his pants, cap, etc., can also be used to communicate these signs to the runners.
Types of Signs. — These two pages illustrate some of the most commonly-used signals. These signs are simple, easy to follow and should be understandable to all. It is not suggested that these specific signals be used, but the simple hand movements are recommended. The batter sometimes flashes a signal to the base-runners. He gets the sign from one of the coaches and in turn flashes it to his teammate (s) on base. The squeeze, or the sacrifice, is flashed by this batter (above) who has clasped his left hand over his belt buckle.
Some more simple signs, all flashed by the coach, are (above, left to right) double steal, hand to side of face; pitchout, arm upraised; play infield back, first finger pointing toward infield; come in standing up, palms facing base-runner coming in to third base. More signals (below, left to right) also
flashed by the coach are the sacrifice bunt, both index fingers hooked inside the belt; take the pitch, fingers tucked inside the uniform collar; steal, tug at right side of cap; sign is off, fingers under chin. This indicates to batter and runner that the sign flashed on the previous play is now cancelled.
Just when to do what on the field of play comes under the heading of "Strategy." Some coaches, or managers, play the game "according to the book." This means that they bunt when a bunt is in order; they have the batter take a pitch when he's ahead of the pitcher; they flash the steal sign with a runner on first, two out, score tied and a weak hitter at the plate; they play "hit -and-run" with a man on first base and a 3-1 count on the batter. To stay with the book is not wrong, but the alert coach, or manager, is the one who throws away the book on certain occasions and surprises the opposition with something new, something different — but always based on sound thinking. To watch two opposing coaches in a battle of wits, let's assume that the two teams out on the field are the Panthers and the Angels. The Panthers are the visitors and the Angels are the home club. Now we'll set up certain situations which demand some heavy thinking by either coach. In the first inning, the Panthers fail to score but the Angels start a mild rally in the bottom half of the inning. The first man strikes out but the next two batters single, putting runners on first and second. A wild pitch advances both runners, and now the Angels have men on second and third, one out, and their No. 4 batter at the plate. What to do? The decision is up to the Panther coach. If the Panther coach tells his infield
to play in and cut the run off at the plate, he is playing by the book. But is this sound reasoning? By playing the infield in, with a powerhitter at the plate, the Panthers are giving the batter more territory to hit at. Also, a sharply hit ground ball with the runners playing in may go through the infield a bit easier than if the infielders were playing at normal depth. Any time the infield plays in it gives the batter a better chance to drive a ground ball between them and also a better opportunity to lift a short fly over their heads and into the short outfield. A blooper which might have been caught with the infield playing back will now drop safely when an infield is pulled in. Since it's the first inning, how important can the run be? It seems better to play the infield back, allow the runner on third to score on a ground ball, and protect as much of the playing area as possible. Remember, if that No. 4 batter hits safely, the Angels may be in for a "big" inning. So why give him more of the field in which to hit safely than necessary? Now we're in the sixth inning, the score is 3-3 and the Angels are again making threatening gestures. The No. 1 batter walks, the No. 2 batter beats out a bunt, and there are runners on first and second, nobody out, and the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 batters —the strength of the Angels — due to hit. What to do? The decision is up to the Angel coach. Perhaps eight to ten coaches would bunt, moving the runners to second and third with one out, and leaving it up to
the Nos. 4 and 5 batters to drive them home. This is a book decision and cannot be criticized. Okay, so the No. 3 batter bunts them along, and there is now one out, runners on second and third and the No. 4 batter stepping to the plate. Now it's time £or the Panther coach to start thinking, and if he's alert, and if his pitcher has good
control, he'll have the No. 4 purposely passed to fill the bases and bring up the No. 5 batter. One hard ground ball straight at an infielder will take the Panthers out of the inning and kill the rally. Perhaps it's best not to bunt in this situation. Why should the Angel coach "sacrifice" his No. 3 batter and then run the risk of having his No. 4 batter passed
purposely? If he does this, he has just eliminated the potential strength of two of his best batters. And why bunt at all? It's the sixth inning —not the eighth or ninth — and the score is tied. One more base hit and the Angels may come up with three or four runs instead of just one. Into the bottom of the eighth the two teams struggle, and the Panthers have taken a 4-3 lead. The No. 8 batter for the Angels leads off and he quickly goes ahead of the pitcher, two balls and no strikes. He looks for the hit or take sign from the third-base coach. What to do? Bring out the book right here and play accordingly. The No. 8 hitter represents the tying run. He's not considered a good hitter or he wouldn't be batting in the eighth spot. Since he's ahead, 2 and o, he must be given the take sign. As long as he stays ahead of the pitcher, 1 and o, 2 and o, 3 and 1, he must be taking in this situation. It's the same inning, Angels trail by one run and there are two out. The No. 3 batter singles to center and now the big slugger is at the plate. He works the count to 2 and o, takes a strike, and then the next pitch is a ball, making the count 3 and 1. What to do as he looks to his coach for a sign? Again, use the book. The No. 4 batter is a long ball hitter. Since he's behind in the count, the pitcher will try to get the ball over the plate because he does not want to move the tying run into scoring position. Let the No. 4 batter hit away here. One long drive may tie the game, and here's the hitter who has the power
to do it. Now we go into the bottom of the ninth, score tied, and the Angels have their No. 5 batter at the plate. He drives the first pitch down the right-field line,
slides into second with a double and now
represents the winning run. The No. 6 batter is left-handed and is batting .285, the No. 7 batter is weak as is the No. 8 batter. What to do? Before the Angel coach can even form his strategy, the Panther coach should act first. Since the only run that matters is perched on second, he should immediately order the No. 6 batter purposely walked. If not, he's inviting trouble.
According to the book, a bunt is in order. But the chances are not too bright for either the No. 7 batter or the No. 8 hitter to drive in the run. If the Panther coach doesn't order the batter passed, the Angel coach would be smart to allow the No. 6 batter, who is left-handed, to hit away. A ground ball to the right side of the infield will get the base-runner to third, and a reasonably deep fly hit to center or right may also move the runner to third. Also, it's possible that the No. 6 hitter will strike out or pop up, but it's also possible that he may hit safely, sending home the winning run. But it's doubtful whether the No. 6 batter will even get a chance to swing, providing the Panther coach has his thinking cap on tight.
The rules of baseball are based on cold logic. Study them. Get familiar with their terminology. Re-read them. Umpires admit that they constantly read the rules. Tricky rulings often occur which may be covered by an obscure line or paragraph in the rules. They must be ruled on —and interpreted — and the rule book is the best source of information. Difficult situations always seem to pop up in sandlot and high school games. This is because the players are still learning and they will get involved in peculiar situations which are almost impossible under major league supervision. Common, and complicated, situations in sandlot and high school games are players not batting in turn; runners failing to touch all bases in order; batters getting hit by pitched balls which are over the plate; catchers missing third strikes with men on base; two base-runners occupying the same base at the same time, and many, many others which help to confuse the umpire and make the coach's dinner indigestible.
Take the case of what happened a few years ago in a major-league game. The team at bat had runners on first and second base. The batter hit a sharp grounder at the shortstop — or maybe it was the second baseman. Anyway, only an error would have prevented a double play. What happened? One of the base-runners deliberately got in front of the infielder set to make the stop and was hit by the batted ball. The rules were specific at the time. The runner was called out for interference and the batter was given credit for a base hit. However, the team at bat still had another out left and could have scored some runs, all because it had a smart base-runner who purposely prevented a double play.
It's doubtful whether every umpire, manager and player in the major leagues knows how to rule on every tricky play that might crop up.
The rule covering such a situation has since been changed, but such a play makes baseball rules an interesting and argumentative subject. Not all base-runners who get hit by batted balls are out. If a batted ball is first touched, or goes by an infielder, and then hits the base-runner, the ball is not dead and the runner is not out. Play continues and the runners can advance at their own risk. Also, a runner who gets hit by an infield fly after it has been so called by the umpire, is not out if he is standing on his base. Although the batter is automat-
ically out on an infield fly call (with first and second, or first, second and third occupied with less than two out), it's a double play i£ a runner is hit by a ball ruled an infield fly while off his base. There are many rules which, at first glance, make you think. For instance, a catcher can use any glove he wants when behind the plate, but the first baseman and other players must use gloves o£ specific dimensions.
We all know that throwing a glove or cap at a batted ball is not right. The batter is entitled to three bases but only i£ the cap or glove strikes the ball. Although the biggest violators are the major-leaguers, the rules are specific about hitting with one or both feet out of the batter's box. The batter's box is 4 feet by 6 feet, certainly large enough for any batter with the largest of feet. But some major-leaguers sometimes have their front foot out of the box, hoping to nail the curve ball before it breaks. Observe this rule, keep both feet in the batter's box.
fectly within the rules if you do not tag a base-runner with the ball. This does not mean that you can hold the ball in your left hand and tag him with the right hand. As long as the tag is made with the hand which holds the ball, it is a legal tag. Too many young fielders think they have to tag the runner with the ball and very often lose control of the ball while making the tag. Did you know that any fielder — but the pitcher or catcher — can station himself in any part of the field as long as he's in fair territory? This means that all four infielders can be placed between first and second, all three outfielders can be pulled in to plug up the infield holes, or some of the infielders can be placed in the outfield to make a five- or six-man outfield. Looks silly but it's perfectly legal.
A balk by a pitcher stops the game and base-runners advance one base. Sometimes a balk is called as the pitch is on its way to the plate. The batter — whether he hits a home run or into a double play —has struck at an illegal pitch and all he has to show for his effort is a good swing. The balk call by the umpire has "killed" further play.
Although this was covered in the chapter on Playing Techniques, you are per-
ACE —The best and most dependable pitcher on the team. APPLE-The ball. ARBITER-The umpire. ASPIRIN TABLETS - Pitched balls by an exceedingly fast pitcher. BEAN BALL — A pitched ball which comes close to the batter's head or which hits his head. BENCH JOCKEY-A player in the dugout, or on the bench, who rides the opposing team's players, preferably the pitcher, his aim being to anger them and interfere with the performance of their assignments in the game. BLANK —When a pitcher holds the opposing team scoreless, usually in an entire game. BLOOPER-A short fly hit just in front of the outfielders and/or just in back of the infielders. BLOW - (noun) A safe hit. BOBBLE — Failure by a fielder to catch, or hold safely, a batted ball. BONER —A mental mistake by a player, such as running off his base on a fly ball about to be caught with less than two out. BOOT — A fielding error which deprives the defensive team of an out. Usually made on a ground ball. BUSH — Term used by major league players and writers to describe the baseball hinterland, the deeper minor leagues. A player new to the big leagues whose behavior or speech does not please his associates is reprimanded by being called a "busher." When a player is transferred to the minors by a major league club, it is sometimes referred to as sending him back to the bush, or to the bushes. CHARLEY HORSE-An injury to a leg muscle which is caused by a sudden
strain on some part of the body of the muscle. Very painful. CIRCUS CATCH-A caught fly ball, usually by an outfielder who leaves the ground and is forced to roll over after the catch, like a circus tumbler. CLOTHESLINE-A line drive hit to the outfield which travels on a low line without touching the ground or rising more than ten or fifteen feet above the ground. CLUBHOUSE LAWYER - A talkative player who never seems to be satisfied with the conduct and operation of the team by its manager or the performance of his teammates. COUSIN —A pitcher who is hit safely quite frequently by one batter. Or a batter who is consistently retired by one pitcher. In the first case the pitcher is referred to as a cousin of that batter, and in the latter, the batter is referred to as the cousin of that pitcher. CRIPPLE — When a batter is ahead on the count, three balls and no strikes, or 3 and 1, or 2 and 0, the pitcher must send the next pitch through the strike zone if he doesn't want to issue a base on balls. In such a situation the pitcher often throws the pitch down the middle. Such a pitch is known as a cripple, and is very often hit solidly and far by the batter. DUSTER-A pitch close to the batter which causes him to fall to the ground. The batter then removes the dust from his uniform before resuming his batting position. A pitcher who intentionally throws the ball at the batter is dusting him off. FOOT IN THE BUCKET-A batter who draws his front foot away from the plate as he swings at a pitched ball is said to be batting with one foot in the water bucket. This phrase has been handed down from the days when drinking water came in buckets instead of through the ball park's plumbing system. GOPHER BALL —Any pitch the batter smashes for a long drive, usually a home run. This is derived from the way the batters "go fer" it, hit it, and then "go fer" two or three bases or a home run.
GO THE ROUTE (OR THE DISTANCE) — To pitch a complete nine-inning game. GRANDSTANDER-A player who makes a routine play seem difficult in order to please the fans. Also known as a showboat. GRANDSTAND MANAGER-A fan who shouts advice at the manager and/or players during the games from his seat in the grandstand or bleachers. GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE - Exhibition games played in spring training between major league teams. HANDCUFF-A hard-hit batted ballusually a line drive —which an infielder can't catch cleanly because he doesn't have time to get his hands in position to make the catch. Thus the infielder is handcuffed. HIT FOR THE CYCLE-A player who hits a single, double, triple and home run in one game has "hit for the cycle." IVORY —New players added to a team from leagues of lower classification or from teams outside organized baseball. The talent scouts of professional teams are also called ivory hunters. KICK —A vocal objection to an umpire's decision; a protest. Also means to boot a grounder. LEG HITTER-A speedy player who beats out a lot of infield rollers which would be routine outs if a player of normal speed was running to first base. LONG-BALL HITTER-A batter with strong power at the plate who is capable of delivering extra-base hits with some frequency. ON DECK — The next batter in the lineup who follows the player at bat is on deck. PASS —A base on balls, a "free ticket" to first base for the batter. POWERHOUSE -A long-distance hitter. PRIMA DONNA - A player who is given to displays of temperament because things aren't going right for him. PULL THE STRING - A change-up pitch. A pitcher who throws a ball slower than his usual rate of speed is said to pull the string.
RABBIT EARS-A player who hears everything said by the fans and the opposing players and gets disturbed by what he hears. RELIEF ARTIST-A pitcher who comes in during the late stages of the game and halts the opposing team. RHUBARB — A heated and long argument between players and umpires. RIDING THE BENCH-A player not in the lineup is riding the bench. ROCK - A boner. ROOKIE - A first-year player. SCRIBE — A baseball writer; also reporters and journalists in general. SHAKE-OFF —A pitcher who wants another signal from his catcher shakes his head from left to right. The pitcher is shaking off the original signal for a pitch and now wants another signal. SHAVE —A pitch that comes close to the batter and makes him move out of its way. SPRAY HITTER-A batter who can hit pitches to all parts of the field but with little power. SQUEEZE PLAY-A bunt with a baserunner on third. The runner attempts to score as the batter bunts the ball. SWITCH HITTER-A batter who can hit right or left-handed. (Like Mickey Mantie.) TAKE CHARGE GUY-A player with leadership qualities who can inspire his teammates by vocal support or his outstanding individual play. TEXAS LEAGUER-A fly ball which drops safely just beyond the infield and just in front of the charging outfielder. THROWER —A pitcher who has very little of anything is sometimes known as a thrower. TWO O'CLOCK HITTER - A player who looks like a great hitter in batting practice but can't buy a hit during the regular game. VETERAN - A player who has been in the game a few seasons.
Ace, defined, 252 Adcock, Joe, 126 Amateur clubs, growth of, 19-21 Amherst College, 20 Apple, defined, 252 Arbiter, defined, 252 Aspirin tablets, defined, 252 Athletics, Brooklyn see Brooklyn Athletics Balls, early, 16 Baseball's Hall of Fame, 21 Bean ball, defined, 252 Bench jockey, defined, 252 Berra, Yogi, 117-119 Bang-bang plays, 126 Base running, 191-203 Baseball field, first, 17-18 Bat, selecting a, 26 Batting, 26-56 Bunting, 48-56 Grip, 29-33 Spread, 26-28 Stance for, 26-28 Swing, 33-47 Batting order, 242-243 Bent-leg slide, 193-194 Blank, defined, 252 Blooper, defined, 252 Blow, defined, 252 Bobble, defined, 252 Boner, defined, 252 Boot, defined, 252 Box score, first, 19 Boyer, Ken, 163, 197 Brandt, Jack, 130-131 Brooklyn Athletics, 22 Brooklyn Excelsiors, 20 Bruton, Billy, 178 Bunning, Jim, 64, 76 Bunting, 48-56, 110-111, 186-189 Burdette, Lew, 68, 74-75, 81 Bush, defined, 252 Carter, Robbin, 16 Cartwright, Alexander, 18 Cash, Norman, 128-129 Catching, 101-115 Covering bunts, 110-111 Plays at plate, 103-105 Pop-ups, 112-115
Position in, 101-103 Qualifications for, 101 Signals, 107 Stance for, 101-102 Taking throws, 115 Throwing to bases, 107-108 Center fielding see Outfielding Cepeda, Orlando, 129 Chadwick, Henry, 17 Changeup see Pitching Charley horse, defined, 252 Cincinnati Red Stockings, 21-22 Circus catch, defined, 252 Civil War (U.S.), effect on baseball, 20 Clothesline, defined, 252 Clubhouse lawyer, defined, 252 Clubs, amateur see Amateur clubs Coaching, 240-244 Batting order, 242-243 Signals, 244 Cobb, Ty, 28, 32 Courtney, Clint, 114, 119 Cousin, defined, 252 Crandall, Del, 115 Creighton, James, 20 Cricket, 16-17 Cripple, defined, 252 Crotch signals see Signals Curve ball, 80 Cut-off plays, 181-182 Defense see Team defense DiMaggio, Joe, 28, 41 Double play, 142-147 Double steal (signal), 245 Doubleday, Abner, 17 Duster, defined, 252 Elysian Fields, 18 Evers, Johnny, 32 Examples of play see Play situations Fashion Race Track, 19 Fast ball, 78-79 Fielding, 87-99 Fly balls, 98 Ground balls, 91-94 Outfield play, 95-97 Position in, 87-89 Stance for, 87-89 Throwing in, 99 see also: Catching; First baseman; Outfielding; Second baseman; Shortstop; Third
baseman Fingernail ball, 84 First baseman, 121-130 Foot movements, 122-126 Qualifications for, 121 Stance for, 122-126 Taking throws, 128-310 Fly balls, 98 Foot in the bucket, defined, 252 Foot movements see First baseman; Second baseman; Short stop; Third baseman Force-outs, 103-105, 134, 137, 139-142 Games First professionally promoted, 19 First intercollegiate, 20 Gehrig, Lou, 28 Glossary, 252-253 Go the route (or the distance), defined, 252 Goal ball, 16 Gomez, Ruben, 84 Gopher ball, defined, 252 Gothams, 18 Grandstand manager, defined, 253 Grandstander, defined, 253 Grapefruit league, defined, 253 Ground balls, 91-94, 134-136 Grounders see Ground balls Hall of Fame, Baseball's see Baseball's Hall of Fame Handcuff, defined, 253 Head-first slide see Head-on slide Head-on slide, 202-203 History, 14-23 Hit-and-run (signal), 244 Hodges, Gil, 129 Hook slide, 194-201 Hubbell, Carl, 81 Hulbert, William A., 22-23 Infielding see Fielding Ivory, defined, 253 Kaline, Al, 46-47, 178 Keystone combination, 133, 144-145 Kick, defined, 253 Knickerbocker Baseball Club, 17-19 Knuckle ball, 82-85
Knuckle curve, 81-82 Lepcio, Ted, 94 Logan, Johnny, 93 Lollar, Sherman, 119 McDougald, Gil, 138-139 Maglie, Sal, 81 Mantle, Mickey, 174-175 Martin, Pepper, 202 Massachusetts game, 16, 21 Mathews, Eddie, 168 Mathewson, Christy, 22 Mays, Willie, 44-45, 166, 171 Musial, Stan, 28, 42, 49 National Association of Baseball Players, 19, 21-22 National League, 23 New York game, 17, 21 New York Nine, 18 On deck, defined, 253 One old cat, 16 Origin, 14-18 Outfielding, 171-178 Pascual, Camilo, 84 Pass, defined, 253 Pierce, Billy, 84 Piersall, Jim, 131 Pitching, 59-85 Change of pace (changeup), 8081 Curve ball, 80 Fast ball, 78-79 Fingernail ball, 84 Follow-through, 68-71 Grip, 61 Knuckle ball, 82-85 Leg lift, 64 Position in, 63-64 Screwball, 81-82 Slider (knuckle curve), 81-82 Stance for, 72 Striding, 67 Pitchout (signal), 245 Pivot, 145-157 Play situations, 204-239 Plugging, 16, 21 Podres, Johnny, 84 Poison ball, 16 Pop-ups, 112-115 Positions, playing see Catching; Fielding; Pitching; Second baseman; Shortstop
Powerhouse, defined, 253 Prima donna, defined, 253 Pull the string, defined, 253 Put-out, 188-189 Qualifications, players' see Catching; First baseman; Second baseman; Shortstop; Third baseman Rabbit ears, defined, 253 Red House Grounds, 18 Red Stockings, Cincinnati see Cincinnati Red Stockings Rhubarb, defined, 253 Riding the bench, defined, 253 Rizzuto, Phil, 31, 202-203 Rock, defined, 253 Roe, Preacher, 81 Rookie, defined, 253 Rounders, 14-17 Rules, 250-251 Early, 18 Run-down plays, 181 Ruth, Babe, 21, 28 Sacrifice (signal), 244 Sacrifice bunt (signal), 245 Schoendienst, Red, 148-149 Screwball, 81-82 Scribe, defined, 253 Second baseman, 133-159 Double play, 142-147 Foot movements, 134-159 Ground balls, 135-136 Pivot, 145-157 Position of, 134-159 Qualifications for, 133 Stance for, 134-159 Tag plays, 158-159 Shake-off, defined, 253 Shave, defined, 253 Short pops, 134 Shortstop, 133-159 Double play, 142-147 Foot movements, 134-159 Ground balls, 135-136 Position of 134-159 Qualifications for, 133 Stance for, 134-159 Tag plays, 158-159 Sign is off (signal), 245 Signals, 107, 241-243 Skinner, Bob, 130-131 Slider (knuckle curve), 81-82 Sliding, 193-203 Head-on slide (head-first slide),
202-203 Hook slide, 194-201 Types of slides, 193-194 Snider, Duke, 176177 Spahn, Warren, 63-74, 67-68, 71,81 Spalding, Albert G., 17, 22-23 Spray hitter, defined, 253 Squeeze (signal), 244 Stance see Batting; Catching; Fielding; First baseman; Pitching; Second baseman; Shortstop Steal (signal), 245 Strategy, 204-239, 247-249 Switch-hitter, defined, 253 Tagging, 105, 158-159, 165-168 Take charge guy, defined, 253 Team defense, 181-189 Bunt defense, 186-189 Cut-off plays, 181-182 Pitcher covering first base, 182186 Run-down plays, 181 Techniques, playing, 34-203 see also: Batting; Catching; Fielding; First baseman; Outfielding; Pitching; Second basemen; Shortstop; Team defense; Third baseman Texas leaguer, defined, 253 Third baseman, 161-168 Foot movements, 162-165 Making the tag, 165-168 Qualifications for, 161-162 Throneberry, Marv, 131 Thrower, defined, 253 Throwing In fielding, 99 To bases, 107-108 Throws, taking, 115, 128-130 Tie score, first, 19 Tour, pioneer baseball, 20 Town ball, 16-17, 21 Turley, Bob, 63 Two o'clock hitter, defined, 253 Two old cat, 16 Uniforms, first, 19, 21 Washington Baseball Club, 18 Wilhelm, Hoyt, 84-85 Williams, Ted, 28, 33, 41-42 Williams College, 20 Wright, George, 21 Wright, Harry, 21
HERE IS A selected list of baseball titles which covers just about everything on the game. The player,
or student of the game who wants to increase his knowledge of the sport, will find many helpful hints in each of these books. There are playing hints, strategies, play situations, history, records and statistics among the fifty books selected as the most informative.
Allen, Archie P.: Handbook of Baseball Drills, New York, Prentice-Hall, 1959. Allen, Ethan N.: Baseball Play and Strategy New York, Ronald Press, 1959. Allen, Ethan N.: Winning Baseball. New York, Ronald Press, 1956. Allen, Lee: The Hot Stove League. New York, A. S. Barnes, 1955. Boudreau, Lou: Good Infield Play. Chicago, Zifï-Davis Publishing Co., 1949. Brewster, B.: First Book of Baseball. New York, Franklin Watts, Inc., 1950. Buchanan, Lamont: The Pictorial Baseball Instructor. New York, Dutton, 1954. Child, Malcolm: How to Play Big League Baseball. New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1951. Cooke, David C:"Baseball for Boys. New York, Dodd Mead, 1959. Coombs, John W.: Baseball, Individual Play and Team Strategy. New York, Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1955. Cummings, Parke: Dictionary of Baseball. New York, A. S. Barnes & Co., 1950. DiMaggio, Joseph P.: Baseball for Everyone. New York, Whittlesey House, 1948. Dunne, Bert V.: Batter Up. Garden City, L. I. Doubleday & Co., Inc. 1948. Dunne, Bert V.: Play Ball! Garden City, L. I. Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1947. Dunne, Bert V.: Play Ball, Son! San Francisco, Serra Publishing Co., 1945. Durant, John: Story of Baseball. New York, Hastings House, 1959. Feller, Robert W. A.: How to Pitch. New York, A. S. Barnes & Co., 1948. Fitzgerald, Edward: The Book of Major League Baseball Clubs. 2 volumes. New York, Grosset & Dunlap, 1959. Fraley, Oscar: How to Play Championship Baseball. New York, A. A. Wyn, 1954. Henderson, Robert W.: Ball, Bat and Bishop. New York, Rockport Press, 1947. Henrich, Tommy: The Way to Better Baseball . . . in collaboration with A. L. Plaut. New York, Exposition Press, 1951. Hornsby, Rogers: My Kind of Baseball. Edited by J. Roy Stockton. New York, David McKay," 1953. Jessee, Daniel E.: Baseball. New York, A. S. Barnes & Co., 1939. Kuenn, Harvey and Smilgofï, James: Big League Batting Secrets. New York, Prentice-Hall, 1958. Lai, William T.: Championship Baseball. New York, Prentice-Hall, 1954. Mack, Connie A.: Connie Mack's Baseball Book. New York, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1950. Meany, Tom: Baseball's Greatest Hitters. New York, A. S. Barnes & Co., Inc., 1950. Meany, Tom: Baseball's Greatest Pitchers. New York, A. S. Barnes & Co., 1949. Meany, Tom: Baseball's Greatest Teams. New York, A. S. Barnes & Co., 1949. Meany, Tom: Baseball's Greatest Players. New York, Grosset & Dunlap, 1953. Mize, John: How to Hit. As told to Murray Kaufman. New York, Holt, 1953. Moore, Terry B.: Covering the Outfield. Chicago, Ziff-Davis Publishing Co., 1948. Newhouser, Hal: Pitching to Win. Chicago, Zifï-Davis Publishing Co., 1948. Pashko, S.: How to Make the Varsity. New York; Greenberg, Publisher, 1946. Richards, Paul: Modern Baseball Strategy. New York, Prentice-Hall, 1955. Schumacher, H.: Baseball Strategy. Leonia, N. J, Wells Publishing Co., 1949. Siebert, Richard W., and Vogel, O. H.: Beginning Baseball. Chicago, Athletic In stitute, 1948. Siebert, Richard W., and Vogel, O. H.: How to Improve Your Baseball. Chicago, Athletic Institute, 1952. Sisler, George H.: Sisler on Baseball. New York, David McKay, 1954. Smilgofï, James: Winning High School Baseball. New York, Prentice-Hall, 1956. Smith, Ken: Baseball's Hall of Fame. New York, A. S. Barnes, 1952. Turkin, Hy and Thompson, S. C: The Official Encyclopedia of Baseball. New Revised Edition. New York, A. S. Barnes 8cCo., 1959. Vogel, O. H.: Ins and Outs of Baseball. St. Louis, C. V. Mosby, 1952.