The Ole Ball Game

Etiquette on first base?

Photo Bill Stanton:

Photo Bill Stanton:

Anonymous asked: Recently, we have had an incident of our baserunner running through first base, and the first baseman also running to the bag to try and make the out. Needless to say there was a collision.

I know about a safety bag that can be used, however, I believe that it would have not stopped the collision.

What can be done, safely, by our coaches to teach the children to avoid this again?

Did I mention it is the major division of Little League? Our safety director has told one of our moms for the runner to throw an elbow into the first baseman. I do not think that this is a good idea, it's baseball, not football.

What can I do about this situation and handle it the right way?

Thank you.

Rick answered: Thank you for your question.

Those collisions at first base can be bad ones. Let me say up front, having the runner throw an elbow into the first baseman is not the way to go!

Both players are entitled to the base. Not all collisions there are avoidable; but most are.

The safety bag is designed to keep the runner to the outside of the base, so that the runner/first baseman do not get tangled up. As you said, the bag alone will not provide enough seperation if the players are both on the move.

One baseball skill that is sometimes not taught before players reach high school is that pitchers cover first base on balls hit to the right side.

If the pitcher is heading that direction, the first baseman has a opportunity to toss the ball to the pitcher who is coming up the first base line, parallel to the runner's path, not across it.

If the first baseman trys for a ball in the hole and can't get to the ball, the pitcher is at the bag for the second baseman's throw. Good for both situations.

If the first baseman fields the ball on the line, and is running down the line to tag the base, they just need to be aware that they need to stay to the inside. If the pitcher is there, the 1B can just toss to the pitcher covering on the inside of the base.

The best all around solution is for the pitcher to make it a habit to get that direction on balls hit to the right side. It is an essential skill for a pitcher anyway, and it is never too early to teach it. If the first baseman can get the bag himself, he just waves or calls the pitcher off.

Teaching this skill to pitchers, first and second basemen, is all a part of "PFP's", pitcher's fielding practice. It is as essential as teaching pitchers to back up bases, field bunts and make the lead throw on comebackers, for double plays.

While it is tough to eliminate all collisions, it is possible to teach players techniques that provide them options to avoid those crashes.

Good luck as you go forward.

Yours in baseball,


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Jul 06, 2016
1st base coaching etiquette
by: Joe

I am one of the coaches for my son's baseball team (Little League Majors). I usually manage the dugout, but was asked to coach 1st base. When my son came up to bat, I was telling him to "watch the curve balls, be patient and wait on it." The count quickly came to 3-0. I hollered, "expect fast ball" and sure enough a perfect fast ball came and was called strike (later I learned that the 3rd base coach had given him the take sign). After that pitch, I hear the opposing team's coach yelling that "he's calling pitches" as if I was reading the signals from the coach (which I suck at) or I guess calling the signs from the catcher (which I was not focused on). My son was walked. We ended up winning the game, but I felt like I was called out as a cheater and was told you don't call out pitches in baseball. I tried to explain that I was not calling out pitches, but was trying to be a helpful father/.coach and give guidance to my son (or any player for that matter). I was still being accused of calling out pitches and you do not do that in baseball. I admit that I am not a baseball guru and a bit naive to the parts of the game about "calling pitches" I don't get it. Please explain what I did so wrong and how do I approach this better in the future.

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