Hidden-ball Trick

Even the Amazing Criswell would be...amazed

Even the Amazing Criswell would be…amazed

The rarely seen “hidden-ball trick” was worked to perfection in an August 10 interleague game between the home-field Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays—two teams deep in the hunt for 2013-playoff spots. Although the Dodgers won the game, Juan Uribe, otherwise safe at third base, was abruptly called out as he awaited the next pitch when Evan Longoria sneaked in to apply a swift tag.

On the major-league level, this sleight of hand is rarely attempted and even more rarely succeeds. One of the keys to the deception is the location of the pitcher, who cannot be on the rubber: if he were, a balk would be called. In the video, one finds the pitcher well off the rubber, near the catcher.

Back in the day of Shadow Ball and other phantom shenanigans, as well as even in the present-day minor leagues, the hidden-ball trick would be (and is) seen somewhat more often, and likewise a baserunner is caught napping.

One of the past masters of the hidden-ball trick is current Yankees executive and former shortstop Gene Michael. I (Evander) plan to haunt the Westchester County Center next week in quest of Michael’s autograph on my pre-1974, wooden-slat Yankee Stadium-seat bottom. I already have thirty-three signatures on this unusual bit of equipment.

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About rightoffthebatbook

Co-author of the book, "Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life"
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