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Fielding The Position

Some pitchers seem to harbor the impression that nothing else is
expected of them but to pitch the ball, and the effect of this opinion
is to diminish their worth to a very great extent: A pitcher is just as
much a fielder as any of the other players, and may render his side
efficient service by his ability to properly care for this part of his

I have already spoken of throwing to bases to catch runners, and it is
unnecessary to say anything further except to again caution against too
much of it. A pitcher should throw only when there is a chance of making
the put-out.

In fielding ground-hits he must exert considerable activity on account
of the very short time allowed him. He should have the courage to face a
hard hit, because on account of the position of the second baseman and
short-stop such a hit will generally be safe if he does not stop it, or
at least turn its course. It is his place to get all bunted hits. It
is a mistake to break up the in-field by bringing a third baseman in
close to get hits which a live pitcher should be able to field. When a
batter who is likely to bunt the ball comes to the bat, the pitcher must
be ready at every ball pitched to move in the direction of the third
base line, where such hits are always made. There are some pitchers,
such as Galvin and Van Haltren, against whom it is not safe to try a
bunt, but, as I have said, many others seem to think they are expected
only to pitch.

On a hit to the first baseman the pitcher should cover the base, and if
the hit is slow or if the baseman fumbles it he may still have time to
toss the ball to the pitcher. The pitcher should not wait until he sees
the fumble before starting, but the instant the hit is made go for the
base; he will then be there and ready to receive the ball and not be
forced to take it on the run. So, too, the occasion may arise when he
should cover second or third, where some combination of play has taken
the baseman away and left the base uncovered. In all cases where a
runner is caught between bases the pitcher must take part in the play.
If the runner is between first and second, the pitcher will back up the
first baseman, leaving the short-stop to back the second baseman; if
between second and third, he will back up the third baseman; and if
between third and home, he will back the catcher.

The pitcher must back up the catcher, the first and third basemen, on
all throws from the out field. He must not wait until the throw is made
before getting in line, but the moment the probability of such a throw
arises, he should get there, and then he can see the entire play, and
will be sure to get in a line with the throw. In backing up he must not
get too close to the fielder he is backing, otherwise what is a wild
throw to him will be likewise to the pitcher. He should keep from fifty
to seventy-five feet away.

With runners on bases he should be sure that he understands the
situation perfectly before pitching, and he must keep it in mind; then,
if the ball is hit to him, he need lose no time in deciding upon the
proper place to throw it. If his play is to try for a double by way of
second base, he should not wait until the baseman gets there and then
drive the ball at him with all his might; but he should toss it to the
baseman as he runs for the base, timing the speed of the throw so that
the baseman and the ball will reach the base together. Thus no time will
be lost, and the throw being easy, may be much more quickly and safely

In short, a pitcher should make himself useful wherever he can, and use
his wits in fielding as well as in pitching. He should not be
disheartened by poor support or unavoidable accidents, but should keep
up his courage, and the entire team will be infused with his spirit.
There are some pitchers who are not hit hard and yet seldom win because
they display such a lazy disposition in the box that they put all the
other players to sleep; and, again, there are others not so successful
in the matter of base hits, who yet win more games, on account of the
aggressive spirit they impart to their fellow-players. Let the pitcher
be alive, then, and if he has any heart let him show it; let him keep
up his spirits, have a reason for every ball pitched, and use his brain
as well as his muscle, for it is only in this way that he, can ever take
a place in the front rank.

Next: The Catcher

Previous: Strategy

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