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Thread: Hidden ball play, bush league?

  1. #1

    Hidden ball play, bush league?

    Pro's and cons on this one. Have seen it used and my thoughts are bigger the game, tighter the game the more effective the play. Would use in a really tough spot where i did not like matchup with my pitcher and hitter at plate and needed desperately out of a jam.

    Everyone's thoughts?

  2. #2
    I don't think I would ever use this. Of course if a million dollars were on the line, I wouldn't hesitate one moment - haha.

  3. #3
    I think its a play best left for backyard whiffle ball games and personally can't invision a situation where I'd do it. With that said, I wouldn't be upset if it were done to my team.

    One of the cardinal rules of baseball is to "keep your eye on the ball." I believe that holds true when they are on the bases. Always know where the ball is. An athlete has no one to blame but himself if he gets burned by the hidden ball trick.

  4. #4
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    We only used it once against a team whose coaches we hated.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kings over Queens View Post
    I think its a play best left for backyard whiffle ball games and personally can't invision a situation where I'd do it. With that said, I wouldn't be upset if it were done to my team.

    One of the cardinal rules of baseball is to "keep your eye on the ball." I believe that holds true when they are on the bases. Always know where the ball is. An athlete has no one to blame but himself if he gets burned by the hidden ball trick.

    I agree with this 100%. What I find hilarious, though, is that you're fine with the hidden ball trick, but (according to your other thread) consider the baserunner taking 2nd base (at 13U!) after a BB to be "bush." Agressive baserunning is a lot less bush than hidden ball plays or the skunk in the outfield play. In our local rec league, ALL baserunners bust it to first on BB and (especially on passed-ball ball 4) are making an agressive turn toward second. ALL defenders are aware of the possibility of a stolen base in this live ball situation. And this is 10U age group.

  6. #6
    High School Sports
    Thursday, June 10, 2004



    Trick play thwarts Devils
    J.J. Kelly stunts a Grayson County rally with a deceptive pickoff.

    By Ray Cox

    ray.cox@roanoke.com
    381-1672



    INDEPENDENCE - When J.J. Kelly plays in the GroupA baseball semifinals Friday in Radford, don't count on seeing the Indians pull the hidden-ball trick again.

    "That's one we put in for the postseason," J.J. Kelly coach Dave Wyrick said. "It's not a play you can run a lot."

    The two times the Indians tried it, the dastardly sleight of hand worked just fine. On the most recent occasion, J.J. Kelly used it to secure a key out that may well have been the decisive play of the game in a 5-4 quarterfinal victory over host Grayson County on Wednesday.

    "We used it against Honaker in the opening round of the RegionD tournament," Wyrick said. "It worked then, too. We're probably not here now if it hadn't."

    What happened against the Blue Devils came in the fifth with the visitors clinging to a 5-3 lead. With runners on first and second and one out, Wyrick went with a pitching change, bringing catcher Clay Christian out from behind the plate to pitch in relief of starter Garrett Amburgey.

    With courtesy runner Deron Brown taking his lead, Christian whirled and pretended to throw to second. Two outfielders, the second baseman and the shortstop performed amateur but convincing theater as they sprawled across the outfield as if the ball had gotten by. Christian held the ball as Brown took off toward third, then fired to the shortstop when Brown tried to scramble back to second.

    Grayson County coach Mike Worrell saw it coming.

    "We used to have that play, but it never worked for us," Worrell said. "I was yelling for Deron to stay where he was but he didn't hear me. It's not his fault. He'd never seen that play."

    With that, what had started out as a potential big inning fizzled. A leadoff double by Shane Burris leading to a run-scoring sacrifice fly was all the Devils could manage.

    Brock Funk, who had pitched 11 tough innings since last Thursday, had come on again to save Grayson County. Funk entered in relief of Jesse Hampton, the second pitcher used, and shut down the Indians on two hits the rest of the way.

    That made for a tense bottom of the seventh for the Blue Devils (23-3) and the Indians (16-10). Funk socked a one-out home run, his third in three games, to slice the deficit to one run. Two hits and a fielder's choice later, the Devils had the bases loaded, but in the end couldn't score.

    "We just couldn't get the clutch hit when we needed it," Worrell said.

    Funk was terrific again in a variety of ways. In addition to his pitching, he went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. A four-year starter, it was his last game for the Devils.

    When asked what he thought of the hidden-ball trick, he smiled thinly and tipped his cap in the direction of the J.J. Kelly dugout.

    "I wasn't sure if that's what they were doing until I saw the shortstop keep laying down," Funk said. "Then I went, 'Uh, oh.'"

    John Nelson, B.T. Tomlinson and Burris joined Funk with two hits. The Devils left the bases loaded in the first and seventh and committed four errors.



    Needless to say, this was probably a pretty big situation

  7. #7
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    I would have a difficult time justifying spending already limited practice time on teaching the hidden ball play.

    If kids worked on it on their own and asked for permission to give it a try, I would probably allow it. But I would not set aside practice time to practice and implement it.

    As a player this would have been one of those things that would have come up at recess, PE, or dinner where an crazy idea would have turned into a "Hey we could probably pull that off in a game" type of things.

  8. #8
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    I would have a difficult time justifying spending already limited practice time on teaching the hidden ball play.

    If kids worked on it on their own and asked for permission to give it a try, I would probably allow it. But I would not set aside practice time to practice and implement it.

    As a player this would have been one of those things that would have come up at recess, PE, or dinner where an crazy idea would have turned into a "Hey we could probably pull that off in a game" type of things.

  9. #9
    1982: The Grand Illusion
    Mike Kasprzak

    No single play did more to bring national exposure to the College World Series than the Grand Illusion.

    Miami assistants Skip Bertman and Dave Scott were scouting the Florida junior college championships in 1982 when they saw West Palm Beach Community College pull a phantom pickoff play. During a workout a month later at the CWS, Bertman decided to have some fun.

    "We put the play in as a relaxer," said Bertman, who went on to win five national championships as Louisiana State's head coach. "It was just a humorous thing. We had no intention of using it. The kids had a blast with it. They thought it was funny."

    Miami's opponent the next day was Wichita State, which was on its way to an NCAA single-season record 333 stolen bases, a mark that still stands. Bertman set four conditions to use the play: a Shockers player had to be coaching first base; one of their top basestealers had to be on base; it had to be dusk; and the runner had to dive back on the first pickoff move.

    Lo and behold, all four criteria were met with the Hurricanes clinging to a 4-3 lead in the sixth inning of the June 7 game. On first base was All-American Phil Stephenson, who set an NCAA mark with 87 steals that season and still owns the record for career steals. Stephenson dove back to first on pitcher Mike Kasprzak's pickoff move. Kasprzak then looked to the dugout, where Bertman stuck his finger in his ear, flashing the prearranged signal.

    After throwing a strike, Kasprzak took his foot off the rubber and seemingly fired a throw to first. First baseman Steve Lusby dove over a prone Stephenson. Second baseman Mitch Seaone and right fielder Mickey Williams frantically dashed toward the right-field bullpen, where pitchers Dan Smith and Bob Walker and even Hurricanes batgirls pretended to elude the ball.

    Even the fans were fooled. Spectators in the right-field bleachers stood to look for the ball as players in the Miami dugout pointed to where the ball seemed to be.

    When Stephenson took off for second, Kasprzak took the ball from his glove and threw it to shortstop Billy Wrona. A sheepish Stephenson was tagged out, killing the Wichita State rally. The Hurricanes made their 4-3 lead hold up to win the game.

    The play made it onto ESPN and local broadcasts across the country, as well as nationally syndicated shows such as "This Week in Baseball."

    The play so spooked the opposition that when Hurricanes pitcher Rob Souza really did throw a pickoff into center field against Maine later in the tournament, the runner stayed put. The Black Bears were convinced Souza had tossed the rosin bag.

    In the championship game, the Hurricanes again faced off against Wichita State, and the Grand Illusion remained in the minds of the Shockers. Wichita State stole only one base, helping the Hurricanes gain a 9-3 victory and the first of their four national championships.

    "The thing that play did for college baseball was make it notable," Bertman said. "Everybody knew about the play. When I went to LSU in 1984 . . . I heard one guy say, 'What we need is a coach who can run that pickoff play.' He had no idea who I was, of course."
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by UAME View Post
    What I find hilarious, though, is that you're fine with the hidden ball trick, but (according to your other thread) consider the baserunner taking 2nd base (at 13U!) after a BB to be "bush."
    I prefer to teach kids the right way as much as possible. We always teach hustle.

    I wouldn't teach the hidden ball trick and I don't try to take second on a walk with a runner at third. I have less of a problem with it when their isn't a runner on third, but either way, I don't do it. The only point of trying to take second with the runner on third is to enduce a run down or force an error. Do we really need to force inexpereinced rec kids to make errors so that we can score a run? Really? More times than not they are going to make an error anyway simply because they aren't that good or expereinced. How about we just put the ball in play and give them an opportunity to suceed, rather than forcing a situation where they will likely fail?

    On my team the runner hustles down the line but ALWAYS stops at first. Then we play baseball. We attempt to steal, or put on a hit a run, bunt sac, whatever. I prefer to try to let the pitcher to hold the runner and let my runner take a lead and properly steal a base. It's really not that difficult a concept to grasp, but others seemingly disagree, so, OK. I think you can teach hustle and good baserunning without resporting to what I consider bush league stuff.

    I'm not a big fan of trickery or nonsense. Even at the lowest level, I try to teach them to play good sound fundamental baseball without turning the game into a circus. Otherwise you might as well que up the carnival music.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Kings over Queens View Post
    I prefer to teach kids the right way as much as possible. We always teach hustle.

    I wouldn't teach the hidden ball trick and I don't try to take second on a walk with a runner at third. I have less of a problem with it when their isn't a runner on third, but either way, I don't do it. The only point of trying to take second with the runner on third is to enduce a run down or force an error. Do we really need to force inexpereinced rec kids to make errors so that we can score a run? Really? More times than not they are going to make an error anyway simply because they aren't that good or expereinced. How about we just put the ball in play and give them an opportunity to suceed, rather than forcing a situation where they will likely fail?

    On my team the runner hustles down the line but ALWAYS stops at first. Then we play baseball. We attempt to steal, or put on a hit a run, bunt sac, whatever. I prefer to try to let the pitcher to hold the runner and let my runner take a lead and properly steal a base. It's really not that difficult a concept to grasp, but others seemingly disagree, so, OK. I think you can teach hustle and good baserunning without resporting to what I consider bush league stuff.

    I'm not a big fan of trickery or nonsense. Even at the lowest level, I try to teach them to play good sound fundamental baseball without turning the game into a circus. Otherwise you might as well que up the carnival music.
    Did your rec players learn anything from that play?

  12. #12
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    On March 28th, (now #6) Orange Lutheran (CA) pulled the hidden ball trick to beat (now #8) Columbus (GA) 1-0 during the National High School Invitational.

    "That's something our second baseman Travis Blue has had in his back pocket, that he's kind of picked up over the years and he does it at practice, he's worked on it all the time," Orange Lutheran head coach Eric Borba said. "And it's tough to get everything to work exactly correct, to have an umpire watching, get the baserunner off the base, and it's just practice and repetition. We've been working on it and it just came through for us today."
    It's very bush and very pathetic.
    Last edited by songtitle; 04-27-2012 at 09:11 AM.
    eFastball.com hitting and pitching fact checker

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by real green View Post
    Did your rec players learn anything from that play?
    Sure. Goes without saying.

  14. #14
    In the same vein of bush or not bush, how do we feel about baserunners who try to distract the pitcher by clapping while he is in motion?

    I think its stupid and wonder why a runner would want to cause a pitcher to make a bad pitch. Isn't it better that the batter have an opportunity to hit a ball and move him over, rather than say drawing a walk, or worse, getting hit by a pitch?

    Makes no sense to me.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by CircleChange11 View Post
    I would have a difficult time justifying spending already limited practice time on teaching the hidden ball play.

    If kids worked on it on their own and asked for permission to give it a try, I would probably allow it. But I would not set aside practice time to practice and implement it.

    As a player this would have been one of those things that would have come up at recess, PE, or dinner where an crazy idea would have turned into a "Hey we could probably pull that off in a game" type of things.
    You can beat it by teaching your baserunners to not take their lead-offs until the pitcher is engaged on the rubber, which is pretty basic.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kings over Queens View Post
    In the same vein of bush or not bush, how do we feel about baserunners who try to distract the pitcher by clapping while he is in motion?
    It's illegal.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Kings over Queens View Post
    Sure. Goes without saying.
    That play would happen at any level when a heads up team finds a lazy catcher or unaware pitcher. The only reason you don't see it more often in higher levels of play is the pitcher and catcher have learned they have to stay in the game between pitches. I am sure your pitcher and catcher are better players today because of that play and that is what rec is about. Exposure to situations they can learn from.

  18. #18
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    A team tried the hidden ball trick on us last year in LL Juniors. My hitter just got a double. the short stop called time huddled all the infield together for 30 seconds, then rushed back to his spot while holding his glove to his chest with both hands. It was obvious he had the ball, but I knew they called time - I let it go. Next, the pitcher engages the rubber and my runner steps off the bag to take his lead.

    The SS "sneaks" his way over between the runner and the bag and then tags the runner. Nobody saw, since the pitcher was engaged in the rubber and had made no movement. So the SS yells, "Blue! Blue! Look!" and tags him again. The umpires just stare at him.

    The kids have no idea whats going on, so I yell to my runner, "They tried the hidden ball trick on you, but called time before hand, so there is no play. Also, the pitcher engaged the rubber so if there was no time called, then it would have been balk." The runner just chuckled a little and stayed where he was. The other team just felt pretty dejected and silly they just tossed the ball to the pitcher and tried to get going again.

    It was kind of funny.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by headstillhitter View Post
    High School Sports
    Thursday, June 10, 2004



    Trick play thwarts Devils
    J.J. Kelly stunts a Grayson County rally with a deceptive pickoff.

    By Ray Cox

    ray.cox@roanoke.com
    381-1672



    INDEPENDENCE - When J.J. Kelly plays in the GroupA baseball semifinals Friday in Radford, don't count on seeing the Indians pull the hidden-ball trick again.

    "That's one we put in for the postseason," J.J. Kelly coach Dave Wyrick said. "It's not a play you can run a lot."

    The two times the Indians tried it, the dastardly sleight of hand worked just fine. On the most recent occasion, J.J. Kelly used it to secure a key out that may well have been the decisive play of the game in a 5-4 quarterfinal victory over host Grayson County on Wednesday.

    "We used it against Honaker in the opening round of the RegionD tournament," Wyrick said. "It worked then, too. We're probably not here now if it hadn't."

    What happened against the Blue Devils came in the fifth with the visitors clinging to a 5-3 lead. With runners on first and second and one out, Wyrick went with a pitching change, bringing catcher Clay Christian out from behind the plate to pitch in relief of starter Garrett Amburgey.

    With courtesy runner Deron Brown taking his lead, Christian whirled and pretended to throw to second. Two outfielders, the second baseman and the shortstop performed amateur but convincing theater as they sprawled across the outfield as if the ball had gotten by. Christian held the ball as Brown took off toward third, then fired to the shortstop when Brown tried to scramble back to second.

    Grayson County coach Mike Worrell saw it coming.

    "We used to have that play, but it never worked for us," Worrell said. "I was yelling for Deron to stay where he was but he didn't hear me. It's not his fault. He'd never seen that play."

    With that, what had started out as a potential big inning fizzled. A leadoff double by Shane Burris leading to a run-scoring sacrifice fly was all the Devils could manage.

    Brock Funk, who had pitched 11 tough innings since last Thursday, had come on again to save Grayson County. Funk entered in relief of Jesse Hampton, the second pitcher used, and shut down the Indians on two hits the rest of the way.

    That made for a tense bottom of the seventh for the Blue Devils (23-3) and the Indians (16-10). Funk socked a one-out home run, his third in three games, to slice the deficit to one run. Two hits and a fielder's choice later, the Devils had the bases loaded, but in the end couldn't score.

    "We just couldn't get the clutch hit when we needed it," Worrell said.

    Funk was terrific again in a variety of ways. In addition to his pitching, he went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. A four-year starter, it was his last game for the Devils.

    When asked what he thought of the hidden-ball trick, he smiled thinly and tipped his cap in the direction of the J.J. Kelly dugout.

    "I wasn't sure if that's what they were doing until I saw the shortstop keep laying down," Funk said. "Then I went, 'Uh, oh.'"

    John Nelson, B.T. Tomlinson and Burris joined Funk with two hits. The Devils left the bases loaded in the first and seventh and committed four errors.



    Needless to say, this was probably a pretty big situation
    We have the exact same play in our book, but have used it only twice in two years when big games were on the line. It worked both times, exactly as in the articel. Both times the third base coach caught on immediately and screamed for R2 to stick to the base and both times R2 ignored the coach. It doesn't take that long to teach and you can't use it very often, but...

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Kings over Queens View Post
    In the same vein of bush or not bush, how do we feel about baserunners who try to distract the pitcher by clapping while he is in motion?
    .
    Over the years some opposing baserunners have done this.
    The umpires have never tried to stop it.
    As a coach, I ignore it, and hope my pitcher will ignore it.
    I indoctrinate my players to ignore bad calls, bad weather, bad mounds, bad infields, you name it.
    I model the message, and hope it carrys over into moments such as baserunners handclapping.
    About 5 years ago in the state semifinals the opponent's runner at first (who reached first a couple of times) was grabbing his crotch obscenely when our LHP came set and was gazing at the baserunner.
    The umpires ignored it. I pretended it wasn't happening, and quietly reminded my assistants to do the same. Thankfully, our somewhat volatile LHP ignored it too. I firmly believe our consistent team ethos was the reason.

    BTW, Kings, in better response to your exact question, "how do we feel?": IMO, hand-clapping/crotch-grabbing reflects much worse on the opposing coach than it does on the knucklehead baserunner who is being allowed or encouraged to do it.
    Last edited by skipper5; 04-27-2012 at 10:08 AM.
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  21. #21
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    One that does bother me, though is when the middle infielders continually circle R2 trying to get in his way. I'd really like to tell R2 to break for third as soon as he steps in the way and cause a collision, but that seems a little drastic.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roothog66 View Post
    One that does bother me, though is when the middle infielders continually circle R2 trying to get in his way. I'd really like to tell R2 to break for third as soon as he steps in the way and cause a collision, but that seems a little drastic.
    I don't think it's drastic. I think you have the right idea. As soon as you see them circle once, the next time they circle, take off immediately and cause contact. Your runner gets the base regardless, if I have my facts straight.

  23. #23
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    You guys lost me.....

    Why is developing and employing a LEGAL play in an attempt to win a ball game considered "bush league".....especially in a close game?

    Hell, I've had several well executed "trick plays" against my teams over the years, and I tip my hat to the other coaches and players for coming up with (or copying) them.

    Rather than getting pissy about it, why not take it as a learning experience? I keep reading about the poor sad-sack "inexperienced" players....well how are they supposed become "experienced" players? And when is it OK for someone to run aggressively against them, or try to "trick" them into a mistake.....HS, JC, College, MiLB??

    Several years after I started coaching, I had a "B" Bronco (11-12 y/o) All-Star team in a local open tournament in preparation for sanction play. We ended up against one of the better TB teams in the area and they pulled the "hidden ball into the OF pickoff @ 2nd" play against us. Man, they executed it perfectly....even their fans in the stands were yelling, "GET THE BALL, GET THE BALL!!!"....not only faked out our runner, but my third base coach, and myself they ran it so well.

    As soon as the play went off, our runner popped up, looked around, and we're both yelling, "C'mon, C'Mon, C'MON!!!" Well, when the pitcher nonchalantly jogged over and tagged our runner out half way between the bases for the third out of the inning; it still took me a second or two to figure out what had just happened, as it wasn't a play that I'd seen before.

    Wow, talk about stunned.....I felt kinda stupid and small at that exact moment, but I sure as heck didn't get pissed at the other players or coaches. They did their job and executed everything perfectly; it was me and my coaches who got fooled that day, and who had not prepared ourselves or our kids properly......"if you don't know where the ball is, DON'T just run to be running." Our bad, not the other team's.

    But I'll tell you what....I learned from it, and while I've never implemented that play into our arsenal (thought about it though), I know what to look for when it's attempted against us, have talked to my players about it, and have not been caught by it since (and we've had others attempt it on several other occasions).

    I look at trick plays as great learning experiences, and welcome them against us.....as I think it just makes us all the better as players and coaches, to see and experience what others are doing in continuing to THINK up new ways of playing the game.

    But to call them "bush league" or complain about them? No way....."There's no crying in baseball".
    In memory of "Catchingcoach" - Dave Weaver: February 28, 1955 - June 17, 2011

  24. #24
    IMO, at levels of competition above rec, the hidden ball trick is moral and respectable.
    But I have never allowed my teams to use it, and never will.
    Can't explain why not; after all, in many ways I'm always looking for an edge.
    ____________

    Edited to say: I just read Mud's post. He's corrupting me. We may have to use hidden ball at least once before I retire.
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  25. #25
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    as a first base coach, I'm always checking to make sure the pitcher has the baseball after a meeting on the mound and communicating with any runners...always.

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