First baseman taking a low throw by reaching forward
First baseman taking a low throw on the long bound
First baseman throwing to second for a double-play
Laying out an amateur field
Making sure of a catch - left-fielder catching
On the alert
Pitcher at practice in the 'Cage'
Pitching a 'Drop' Ball
Playing a trick on the base-runner
Practising throwing with the 'spool'
Running to first base
A pitcher's victim. Out on strikes
A wild throw and a safe slide to second
The body protector and Catcher's mask
Short-Arm throw, the beginning
Short-Arm throw, the end
Shutting off a runner at the Home-plate
The umpire did not see Gardner at all
Third baseman intercepting the slide of a runner from second
We crossed the home-plate within three feet of each other
Baseball player catching a ball
Throw to first
The Manager of the team
The Crowd went wild
Swing and a miss
Signaling from the dugout
Misjudged the ball
Looks like a home run
Waiting to bat
Turning an error into an out
Trying to steal home
He missed the catch
He caught the ball
Climbing the fence to catch the ball
Another great catch
Another good catch
A perfect slide
A One-hand catch
The next point is to acquire a correct position in the "box," and an easy, yet deceptive, style of delivery. The position is, to a great extent, prescribed by the rules, and so much of it as is not can be learned by observing the different pitchers. The position which seems most natural should be chosen. The ball should be held in exactly the same way, no matter what kind of curve is to be pitched. Being obliged by rule to keep the ball before the body, in sight of the umpire, any difference in the manlier of holding it will be quickly noticed by a clever batter, and if for a particular curve it is always held in a certain way, he will be forewarned of the kind of ball to expect.
Some batters pay no attention to these little indications; but the majority are looking for them all the time, and once they detect any peculiarities, they will be able to face the pitcher with much greater confidence. The correct manner of holding the ball for every kind of delivery is between the thumb and the first and middle fingers, as shown in the accompanying cut of Clarkson.
In fielding ground hits the short-stop should observe the general principles for such plays. He should, if possible, get directly and squarely in front of every hit, making his feet, legs, and body assist in stopping the ball, in case it gets through his hands.
If the ball comes on a "short bound," he should not push the hands forward to meet it, hut, having reached forward, "give" with the ball by drawing back the hands in the direction the ball should bound. In this way if the ball does not strike the hands fairly, its force will at least be deadened so that it will fall to the ground within reach of the player; whereas, if he pushes his hands forward and the ball does not strike fairly, it will be driven too far away.
By far the most difficult catch on a ball field is that of a ball hit high to the in-field, because of the great "twist" to the ball. The slightest failure to get the ball fairly in the hands will result in a miss, and yet this is always greeted by derisive howls from certain among the spectators. There are various styles of catching these hits, but the position of the hands shown in the accompanying cut is believed to be the best.
The hands should be reached well up to meet the ball and then brought down easily in the line of its course. If the hands and arms are held stiff, the ball will rebound from them as though it had struck a stone. The use of a glove on one hand may be found helpful in counteracting the effect of the twist. The short-stop is expected to try for all such hits falling in his own position, and also all falling back of the third baseman and in short left-field.
The accompanying cut of Ewing is an excellent representation of a batter, in the act of hitting. He not only swings the bat with the arms, but pushes it with the weight of the shoulders. The position is a picture of strength.
In hitting at a high ball the bat should be swung overhand, in an almost perpendicular plane, and so, also, for a low ball, the batter should stand erect and cut underhand. If the bat is swung in a horizontal plane the least miscalculation in the height of the ball will be fatal. If it strikes above or below the centre line of the bat, it will be driven either up into the air or down to the ground. Whereas, if the bat is swung perpendicularly, the same mistake will only cause it to strike a little farther up or down on the bat, but still on the centre line, and if it misses the centre line it will be thrown off toward first or third, instead of up or down.
In catching a high ball the hands should be held in the position shown in the following cut of Bushong, the fingers all pointing upward.
Some players catch with the fingers pointing toward the ball, but such men are continually being hurt. A slight foul-tip diverts the course of the ball just enough to carry it against the ends of the fingers, and on account of their position the necessary result is a break or dislocation. But with the hands held as in this cut there is a "give" to the fingers and the chances of injury are much reduced. For a low ball the hands should be held so that the fingers point downward, and for a waist ball, by crouching slightly it may be taken in the same manner as a high ball.
Left to right - The In-Curve, the out-curve, the drop and the out-drop
The pitcher is the most important member of a ball team. Most of the work falls to him, and a good pitcher, even with a comparatively weak team behind him, can sometimes win games where a good team with a weak pitcher would lose. A good pitcher must first of all have a cool head and keep his nerve even under the most trying circumstances. He must also have good control of the ball and be able to pitch it where he wants it to go. After that he must have a knowledge of curves and know how by causing the ball to spin in a certain way to cause it to change its course and thus to deceive the batsman. The art of curving a ball was discovered in 1867. Before that time all that a pitcher needed was a straight, swift delivery. The three general classes of curved balls used to-day are the out-curve, the in-curve, and the drop. There are also other modifications called "the fade away," "the spitball," and others. Curve pitching will only come with the hardest kind of practice.