Baseball Magazine

First Basemen Throwbacks

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

Here is usually when the signal is given and the play is arranged.

From an early age, my father and grandfather taught me that if you look closely, there is a heck of a lot going on in the game that the overwhelming number of people (even players) miss.  Today’s tip is one of them.

Occasionally when a player gets on first base you will see the first baseman look at and point his glove in the direction of the shortstop prior to moving into position to hold the runner on at first.  This signal to the shortstop is a reminder that on certain ground balls that are fielded and thrown to first, the first baseman may immediately fire the ball to second base after he gets the out at first.  The signal reminds the shortstop to be at the bag in case the throw is made.  

 With a runner on first, sometimes the throw will not be to second base to get the force.  Instead, depending on the play, the fielder may have to throw to first for the out.  Some runners at first will take off towards second base.  Upon seeing the throw heading to first base, the runner will often round second base in case a bad throw to first can enable them to continue to third.  Knowing this, the first baseman and shortstop might conspire to throw behind the runner at second and catch him rounding the bag too much.

It’s a very heads-up play by the first baseman and shortstop but it usually involves some pre-planning and practicing so everyone is ready and in the right spot.  The timing is important too.  The first baseman cannot wait to see if the runner rounds the bag too much before he throws.  If he does, the runner will have enough time to get back to second.  As soon as the first baseman catches the ball at first, he must immediately fire to second.  Often the ball will be in the air as the runner rounds the bag.  Before the runner realizes his error, the ball is there.  It may only work once or twice a year but you never know.  It might just mean the difference in an important game.

If you play one of those positions or if you are a coach, be sure to practice it.  If you are a base runnner, make sure you don’t get caught rounding the bag too much.

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