Trick plays in baseball have been around since Abner Doubleday invented the game in Elihu Phinney’s cow pasture in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839.
There are plays called “The Fake Pick-Off”, “The Phantom Catch”, “Third Base Bunt Fake-Out” or the most famous trick play “The Hidden Ball Trick.”
When I played baseball growing up many years ago, we spent nearly as much time and energy devising trick plays designed to deceive our opponents as we did working on fundamentals.
Maybe its because of baseball’s slow pace of play and emphasis on strategy, but we knew it was a sport that rewards trickery.
We devised a ton of variations of the “Hidden Ball” trick. We would devise these plays on our own neighborhood ball diamond.
We would spend all day playing baseball in the summer and plenty of that time was spent trying to pull off trick plays on the baseball field.
We were a bunch of young kids, who loved baseball and who knew about the extensive list of “unwritten rules” in baseball and we tried to pull these off amongst friends.
Although, we practiced these trick plays nearly everyday, rarely did they work and never did we pull one off in an actual Little League game in our hometown.
So where does this all lead to?
Well, Muskegon Catholic got duped by a trick play in its Division 4 regional championship game loss to Beal City on Saturday.
There has been plenty of reaction on if the play was ethical or not.
To set the stage, Muskegon Catholic had a runner on second base in the sixth inning with two outs when Beal City pulled off a “Pick Off Trick Play.”
Beal City’s pitcher wheeled around for a pick off throw to second base only instead of throwing the ball he left it in his glove.
The shortstop and second basemen dove for the “fake throw” and ran into the outfield as if they were chasing the ball. The centerfielder also was involved as he turned and ran toward the fence as if the ball rolled past him.
Believing the ball had been throw into the outfield, MCC’s base runner took off for third base only to be tagged out by the pitcher who had the baseball.
This was a play Beal City had used three times this season and it worked twice prior to Saturday’s game.
Many reactions to video of the play didn’t think the deception was in the best spirit of the game.
I disagree with those people.
It is part of the game and always has been.
I do believe using trick plays should never be used to embarrass a team or a player.
You would never call for a trick play if a team was way ahead in a game and that was not the case on Saturday.
Beal City was ahead 1-0 at the time and it was perfect time to use the play, which had worked well for them in the past.
It worked to perfection and kept the Aggies in the lead at the time.
Yes, the play appeared to have been practiced and rehearsed, but it was a legitimate part of the game.
Baseball is a game full of deception.
Pitchers have allegedly doctored baseballs to get more movement on their pitches, batters allegedly alter their bats for enhanced performance, teams attempt to steal signs from their opponents and home teams have been known to manipulate the length and condition of their infield depending on the opponent.
Some of the above acts are illegal and should most definitely not be part of the game and anyone found to be guilty of any illegal offense should be punished appropriately.
That was not the case of the play Beal City pulled off against Muskegon Catholic.
It was totally within the rules of the game and the play didn’t cost the Crusaders the game as they had several opportunities to score prior to the trick play.
Kudos for the Aggies for pulling off the play.
It only emphasizes the old cardinal sin in any sport.
Never take your eye off the ball.