What do all those hand signals mean? Inside the hidden language of baseball and softball
Signal: The umpire will show the number of balls using the fingers on his or her left hand and the number of strikes with the right. The numbers will also have to. During the Civil War, seaman communicated ship-to-ship with flags, troops on the ground used hand signals during battle, and baseball. Obviously the catcher and pitcher cannot verbally communicate, so, they must communicate through a series of hand signals. The most common way for the.
I always wondered why he looked at me when he would say that. During the course of a game, most of the communication occurs between the catcher and the pitcher. In my brief baseball playing life, which ended after high school, I was a catcher. With the bases empty, the signs to the pitcher were easy: One finger for fastball, two for curve, three for slider or splitter depending on what the pitcher threwand a four-finger wiggle for a change up.
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With the bases empty signaling pitch location can be as easy as putting your glove where you want the pitch or pointing to the inside of one of your legs if you want the pitch to go to one side.
When runners reach base, it gets more complicated. Since the runner can see the catcher give the signs especially from second base, it is important for the catcher and pitcher to disguise their intentions.
The most common way to disguise the signs involves using a sequence of different signs with the first sign signaling the pitch type and the last one telling location with odd numbers meaning outside and even numbers meaning inside. That would be an inside curveball. The first 2 means curve and since the last digit is even it means the location is inside. The catcher and pitcher can change the sign sequence several times during a game to keep the other team from breaking the code.
Obviously, it is important for them to be on the same page to avoid potential disaster. This is why the catcher will go out to the mound and talk to the pitcher when a runner reaches base during the game to clarify what signs they will be using.
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Against a right-handed hitter, the second basemen will usually peek into the catcher to see what the pitch is going to be. He will then determine whether he or the shortstop will cover second in case of a play there. He communicates by shading half of his face with his glove and then flashing a sign with his mouth. Cleveland Indians Coach Jeff Datz The most entertaining baseball communication usually comes from the third base coach.
Next time you are watching a baseball game, keep an eye on the third base coach especially when there are runners on base.
- What do all those hand signals mean? Inside the hidden language of baseball and softball
Let's do an example of signs that might come from a third base coach. Rubbing the belly can mean bunt, touching the ear can mean steal, touching the nose can mean hit and run, and so on.
But none of these signs becomes hot until the third base coach gives the indicator sign, which, for this example, will be touching the belt. The indicator sign usually means that the very next sign the coach gives will be the hot sign although it could be the second or third sign after the indicator. If the third base coach touches, in order, arm, ear, nose, chest, nose, arm, cap, then no sign is hot because the coach did not touch his belt, which is the indicator that the next sign becomes the hot sign.
But if the coach touches, in order, arm, belt, nose, ear, cap, nose, arm, nose, then the bunt is on because the first sign after the indicator, the belt, was nose, which means bunt.
The system above is complicated and might be difficult for the opposing team to crack, but it is not enough. The most potent weapon the coach has in his arsenal to prevent his signs from interception is the wipe sign, which takes off whichever sign the indicator put on.
If the indicator sign tells the batter that the next sign is hot, then the wipe sign tells the batter that the hot sign is off.
Using the example we used above, if the third base coach touches, in order, arm, belt, nose, ear, belt, nose, arm, nose then the bunt is on because the first sign after the indicator was nose, which means bunt. But, if the third base coach touches, in order, arm, belt, nose, ear, belt, nose, chest, arm, nose then there is no active sign given because the bunt, which was turned on by the coach touching the belt and then the nose, has been wiped off by the coach brushing his chest.
The most basic way is to put down a series of numbers.
Only the pitcher and catcher know what the "key" is to figuring out the meaning of the signs. The easiest way to explain this is to provide an example. The catcher will put down a series of signs 4. Using his fingers he puts down 2,1,3,1. In our example, only the first two signs will mean anything to the pitcher.
The first sign is the pitch and the second sign is the location. Seeing the signs 2,1,3,1the pitcher should know to throw a curve ball 2 and outside 1.
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The 3 and second 1 mean absolutely nothing. Now try and figure out this sign combination: The answer is a fastball outside. Again, this is just a basic example. Sometimes the keys can be quite complicated. This is especially true at the college and professional level.
The key is the keep the signals easy to understand for both the pitcher and catcher, but difficult enough that a runner on second will not be able to steal your signs. If you do catch a runner stealing signs, call time out, talk to your pitcher and change the signs. Other Signals Other signals that are relayed to the pitcher through signals from the catcher include: Most of these decisions and signals will be made by your coach or infielders and given to you for you to relay to the pitcher.
See these sections for more info: Situations and PlaysThrowingand Glossary.