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Spalding “Red Cover” Series of 
Athletic Handbooks 
No. 96R. 




The importance ot two great rorces of Attack 
and Defense in Base Ball and their 
relation to each other 

Practical information, entirely new, based on 
modern methods in Base Running 
and Behind the Bat 

Compiled by John B. Foster 

Editor Spalding’s Official Base Ball Guide 


45 Rose Street, New York 

Copyright, 1921 


American Sports Publishing Company 
New York 


MM 26 192 ! 

^ . N I 



Publishers’ Note.5 


How to Catch.9 

Physical Requisites.15 

Catcher Must Be a Good Thrower.21 

Behind the Bat.31 

Using the Mitt Correctly.. 39 

The Thinking Part of Catching.45 

With Runners on Bases.53 

Battery Signs.57 

A Simple Finger Code.63 

Other Methods of Giving Signs.73 

Blocking Base-Runners.79 

Range of the Catcher’s Work.83 

Physical Condition. 89 

Origin of the Catcher’s Mask . ..91 

Catchers’ Equipment.97 




Running Out Hits.107 

Much to Learn About Base-Running.Ill 

With the Runner on First Base.115 

Sliding to Bases.121 

With Runners on Second and Third Bases . . . 127 

• Faults of the Novice.131 

Keep Your Wits About You.135 

The Delayed Steal.140 

“Run-Up” of a Base-Runner.141 

Ground Rules . ..142 

Books to Read.144 

Publishers’ Note 

In the contents of this volume of instruction on Catch¬ 
ing and Base-Running, the methods of these two oppos¬ 
ing forces of attack and defense in base ball are included. 
Heretofore, in compiling books dealing with the various 
positions on a base ball nine, it has been the custom to 
devote a separate book to each position without regard to 
the possibilities of play that are without that particular 
position but dependent upon it. Mr. Foster, from his 
many years of experience in base ball, has noted this fea¬ 
ture, and has combined the subjects of Catching and Base- 
Running in a manner which will enable any player to 
obtain in one volume information that cannot be found 
in any other publication. 

Of the author’s qualifications to write such a book, 
there is no doubt to be expressed. His name is known 
in all parts of the world as editor of “Spalding’s Official 
Base Ball Guide” and “Spalding’s Official Base Ball Rec¬ 
ord.” There is no one who has had better opportunity 
than has had Mr. Foster to know all of the great ball 
players of the last thirty years. As a newspaper writer 
he has traveled thousands of miles annually, has wit¬ 
nessed the games of greatest importance, and has heard 
the intimate conversations of players explaining the finer 
points of their own team work and that of their oppo¬ 
nents. Leaving the sporting editor’s desk, he was for 
seven years the secretary of the New York National 
League Base Ball Club—the “Giants”—and traveled with 

them from the beginning of the spring training trip until 
the end of the season. 

During this time he was in daily contact with such 
great ball players as John J. McGraw, Christopher Math- 
ewson, Mike Donlin, Larry Doyle, Arthur Devlin, Arthur 
Fletcher, Charlie Herzog and other such men as made 
the Giants always contenders for the pennant in the 
National League. Mr. Foster has accumulated a fund of 
information in regard to base ball and the proper manner 
to play it, which he presents to players through the 
medium of the books of Spalding’s Athletic Library. 

The publishers feel that they are especially fortunate 
in securing the services of Mr. Foster, and feel assured 
that every player who studies the information presented 
in this book will materially improve his play in the posi¬ 
tion of catcher, in which he may desire to excel. 

American Sports Publishing Company. 


Catching the ball inside and high. In this catch the mitt is 
placed as squarely back of the ball as possible, because an inside 
shoot is pitched with much swiftness. Conlon, Photo. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 



To be the catcher on a base ball team is about as fine 
a position as there is on the nine. To be a good catcher 
is one of the finest accomplishments of a base ball player. 
To be a star catcher is to become famous. There are 
three statements in the foregoing which every boy can 
think about. He can “mull them over,” as the old saying 
goes. That means to think about them in every possible 
light at his own leisure. 

While he is thinking them over he should also consider 
what they mean. When I have said that to be the catcher 
is about as fine a position as there is on the team, I can 
imagine that some boy wjll ask, “What about the pitcher?” 
A pretty important chap is the pitcher. We all know it. 
When he does something big there is a great deal of talk 
about his achievement, even if it is only the game of our 
own team in our own little town, but he might not have 
been as successful as he was had it not been for his 

Catcher the balance wheel of diamond machine. 

It seems as if that makes the position of catcher rather 
desirable if there were nothing more to think about. That 
is not all. The position of catcher is a fine one, because 
the catcher, more than any player on the field, can see 
and know what is going on all of the time. A watch 
must have a mainspring and a balance wheel. If the 
pitcher is the mainspring of the base ball nine, the catcher 
is the balance wheel. There are times when he becomes 

10 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

a very substantial balance wheel. Those are when the 
pitcher begins to show evidence that his nerves are a little 
shaky. It is usually the catcher who is able to bring the 
machinery back again to normal working order. 

It is a fine thing to be a catcher, because in that posi¬ 
tion all the game is spread before you like a panorama. 
If there are runners on the bases, they are in front of you 
and under your observation. You can see your own field¬ 
ers, both of the outfield and on the infield, and note 
whether they are playing in a proper position to retire the 
batter. You have each succeeding batter to study all the 
time. You take a good look as to how he stands at the 
plate, how he holds his bat, how he uses his feet, either 
to advance into the ball or retreat from it. If he retreats, 
you are fairly well assured that you can outwit him, and 
then begins a little planning on your part to see that you 
do outwit him. It isn’t just catching the ball that is in 
your mind most of the time. That is largely a mechani¬ 
cal operation concerning which there will be more to be 
said further on. You are using your “thinking cap” as 
if you were maneuvering to hook a big fat bass lurking 
under the root of an old stump, and as wary, perhaps, as 
you are eager to land him. 

To be a good catcher! That’s talking. To be a good 
catcher is to be held in the greatest esteem and admiration 
by those who are fond of our national game. Never has 
it ^een known to fail, so far as my recollection is worth 
while, that a good catcher commands a standing in base 
ball that is superlative. One cannot think of a good 
catcher without associating him with those two expressive 
words, “Old Reliable.” When there is a good catcher 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

behind the bat there is twice the confidence on the part of 
the members of the team. The pitcher knows that he is 
not going to have trouble or be flustered by the wrong 
sign for the batters, or shiver every time that he delivers 
a fast ball because he fears that the catcher will fight it 
and let it get away from him. 

How a young catcher made good. 

I can recall one game where the pitcher was doing 
splendidly, so far as his part was concerned, against a 
rival team. The catcher was wabbly. That’s the best pos¬ 
sible word to describe it. He began to think that he was 
not at his best and that made him worse. All the team 
got upset. There was another catcher, a young fellow, 
on the nine, who had not been used much on the field, 
because the manager had a hobby of sticking to old play¬ 
ers, even to the extent of keeping them in the fight at 
times, when, perhaps, it would have been better if they 
had been given a rest. Things got so bad that the man¬ 
ager was finally induced to put the younger catcher behind 
the bat in place of the older one. The young catcher had 
not kept his eyes shut while on the bench. He had watched 
catchers on other teams also. He was cool and level 
t headed and when he got behind the bat—maybe his heart 
® for a moment was going pit-a-pat—he kept the fact well 
concealed and started off as business-like as if he had 
been catching all of his life. The very first batter struck 
out, because the youngfer catcher did not call for curves 
all of the time. The team “braced up” in five minutes 
and eventually won the game. 

I am not going to say that the young catcher was as 
good then as he proved to be years afterward, since he 

12 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

came to be a star in his time, but he was good. He had 
made up his. mind to succeed as a catcher and had not 
been influenced to try first one position and then another, 
to finish poorly in all of them. He had ideas that were 
needed in playing behind the bat and he turned his atten¬ 
tion to the development of those ideas along the right 

“Buck” Ewing’s reputation will live forever. 

To be a star catcher is to be just as famous in base 
ball as to be a star pitcher. Sometimes I am inclined to 
believe that to be a real star catcher is to be bigger than 
anybody else on a base ball field. Take the case of 
“Buck” Ewing, who several years ago was catcher for 
the Giants. Perhaps there is not another ball player 
whose fame has lived among base ball players and stu¬ 
dents of the game as long as his. Not even Mathewson 
among the pitchers, nor Anson of the first basemen, nor 
“Ty” Cobb, nor even “Babe” Ruth, has commanded more 
sincere admiration, or is likely to command it in the years 
to come, than Ewing. His catching was superb. Almost 
perfect in the physical performance of his work, he was 
quick to discern the movements of his rivals, sensed plays 
almost before they had happened, knew batters ‘better 
than they knew themselves, and watched base-runners 
like a hawk. Very few bases were stolen on Ewing. I 
remember a player who was asked by the owner of a 
Western team why he didn’t try to steal second base more 
often against the New York club. “What’s the use,” was 
the reply, “with Ewing behind the bat ? The second base- 
man runs up the line and meets me with the ball between 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

first and second. A fellow feels as if he should have half 
a chance when he tries to steal, and when Ewing’s play¬ 
ing he doesn’t have any chance.” There have been other 
catchers, who^ fame was world wide, and whose names 
will live in base ball just as long as the national game 
lives. Mike Kelly, for instance; Charley Bennett, George 
Gibson, John Kling and Roger Bresnahan among them. 
They are not forgotten, even when pitchers of contempo¬ 
raneous fame have dropped out of the channels of recol¬ 


Catching the ball outside and high. Note how the mitt is placed 
squarely back of the ball, forming a splendid cup in which it can 
lodge. The ball almost can be caught with one hand when the 
mitt is in this position. Conlon, Photo. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


Physical Requisites 

Very often I have heard a boy say: “I can’t be a good 
catcher. I haven’t got the right build for it.” 

Suppose we think a minute. Of what physical type 
have the best catchers been? There was Connie Mack, 
about as good in his day as any of them; tall, very tall, 
and slim to the thinness of the proverbial bean pole. There 
was Mike Kelly, tall and broad shouldered, and not over 
developed below the hips. There was “Buck” Ewing; 
well proportioned in every way, better rounded out phys¬ 
ically, as some have said, than any of the great catchers. 
There was Clements of Philadelphia, thick almost to 
stoutness, a player who was broad rather than tall. There 
was Wilson, of years gone by in Pittsburgh, who might 
have been a star had base ball possessed an appeal to him 
other than a means to the end, who was short, heavy and 
nimble. There was Flint, angular, bony, and looking less 
like a catcher than his fellow pitchers of the old Chi- 
cagos. Kittredge, who was far from being six feet tall, 
for years was a sturdy backstop for Anson’s Colts. Of 
the catchers of recent years there are a number who have 
found a place for themselves in the more important 
leagues who are neither tall nor heavy. Their physical 
type is a complete refutation of the old theory that a good 
catcher had to be a big man, or a big boy, towering notice¬ 
ably above his fellows. 

After observing the work of the catchers for the last 
quarter of a century, and more, I have about concluded 
that the most important advantage which is derived by the 

16 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

tall catcher is a greater ability to stop a high, wild deliv¬ 
ery than is possessed by the short catcher. The longer 
the reach of his arms, the more efficient he is bound to be 
in blocking incipient wild pitches. On the other hand, 
sometimes the tall man is not so quick on his feet as the 
shorter man, and the latter by his nimbleness “holds up” 
the pitcher—that is one of the professional terms for 
keeping him steady—as well as the pitcher who is stead¬ 
ied by the tall fellow. Pitchers are crotchety. It gets on 
their nerves to be aiming to put the ball to certain marks 
all of the time. Like a man who is shooting from traps 
and missing, or the fairly good billiard player who repeat¬ 
edly fails on what he considers to be an easy shot, the 
pitcher who lacks on one day the control of the ball that 
he had on another is usually quick enough to hold every¬ 
body responsible except himself. 

Size no bar to catching ability. 

One of the pitchers of a big league team, who had been 
doing badly for two or three innings until the manager 
was on the point of making a change, blurted out when 
he was criticised: “Get me a catcher. I can’t pitch down 
hill to that runt.” 

“What do you mean ?” asked the manager. 

“I mean just what I say. How’s a fellow of my size 
going to pitch decently when you can’t see anything behind 
the bat but a sawed-off fence post?” 

“Listen,” replied the manager, drily. “That sawed-off 
fence post, as you choose to call him, is one of the best 
catchers in this league. If you only knew it, you are 
doing far better to pitch down hill, as you call it, than to 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 17 

pitch on a level plane. You’re fooling the batters by that 
downhill work, although you haven’t been doing much 
fooling today, because you haven’t any control of the ball 
yourself. Haven’t you made a sufficient study of base 
ball to know that if there is anything which a batter 
doesn’t like, it is to feel that the pitcher is standing above 
him and that he is being forced to strike at the ball on a 
slant? Of course he isn’t, as a matter of fact, but as long 
as you can make him believe that he is you have that 
much the better of it.” 

Pitcher saw the light. 

The pitcher was a reasonable player and he began to 
think of what the manager had told him. He had no 
chance to finish that particular game, because he couldn’t 
break his curves right, but the next time that he pitched 
he asked the manager if the short catcher was going 
behind the bat. “I thought you didn’t like short catchers,” 
said the manager, with a grin. “Well, maybe I don’t,” 
retorted the pitcher, “but I’ve been thinking it over, 
and I believe that I’ve got a winning scheme.” The 
manager did not argue. He was too well satisfied to 
think of interfering with any notion that a pitcher 
might have in his head toward increasing his ability 
on the ball field. In time that pitcher and catcher 
became part of a championship team. 

In many ways size has less to do with the probable 
winning development of a catcher than any position 
on the ball field except that of pitcher. In other words, 
these two positions call more for skill along certain 
lines, regardless of whether the player is of a certain' 

18 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

physical type. A winning pitcher, four feet high, is 
every bit as valuable to a base ball team as a six-foot 
winning pitcher, and the same thing is true of the 
catcher. It is the quality of special skill which exalts 
the pitcher and the catcher to any degree of superiority 
more than their special physical endowment. The 
most perfectly formed athlete may not necessarily 
make the best catcher, and for that reason no young 
ball player who thinks that he would like to be a 
catcher for his team need withhold from that purpose 
for a moment because he imagines that he lacks 
height, or breadth, or weight. 

Speed and a good arm essential. 

There are two physical attributes, however, with 
which every catcher should be endowed. The first of 
them is a strong arm—a good “whip,” as the players 
call it—for without strength in the throwing arm the 
catcher will not be able to get many base-runners who 
are trying to steal bases, and if a catcher cannot throw 
low, and with accuracy, and with great speed, he is not 
to become a good catcher. His place is elsewhere on 
the diamond. It is also essential that a catcher have 
large hands. It is less essential than it was before the 
day of the catcher’s big mitt, but it is still true, even 
with the small pillow as an accessory to the game, that 
a player with a big right hand, if all other things are 
equal, in the long run will make a better catcher than 
a player with a small right hand. 

Can a left-hand ball player become a good catcher? 
Yes. There have been good left-hand catchers. The 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 19 

most famous of these was Clements of the Philadelphia 
Nationals, a capital receiver, and a good thrower. The 
temptation of a left-hand ball player to play the out¬ 
field, or to pitch, is so great that few of them ever have 
attempted to perfect themselves as catchers, even with 
a natural inclination to play behind the bat. 

Good catchers are always in demand. 

To sum it all up, every young ball player should 
bear in mind that if his inclination leads him toward 
catching he very likely has as good a chance to become 
a good catcher as the other fellow. In other words, he 
need not be discouraged before he has begun, because 
his physical proportions are not on the magnitude of 
“six feet by three feet.” If he can become a success 
in his position he will always be in demand, whether 
he is professional or amateur, because the supply of 
catchers never has equaled the demand since the first 
days of base ball. This applies as much to amateur 
base ball as to professional base ball. Particularly i§ 
it true of colleges. Most excellent catchers have 
belonged to college teams, but college catchers of real 
skill have been isolated instances in college athletic hisr 
tory. Perhaps the best college catcher who ever lived 
was Walker of Oberlin, who caught for his college some¬ 
where around 1880. He was a negro. He played pro¬ 
fessional base ball for a brief period, and there was no 
little regret from those who admired a good ball player 
when he withdrew from the game. 

i hrowing the ball to first base with a sidearm motion and with¬ 
out hesitating to take aim. Conlon, photo . 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


Must Be a Good Thrower 

It already has been said that the catcher should have a 
good arm. He also should be a good thrower. It does 
not follow invariably that because you have a good arm 
you are a good thrower. You may be a powerful thrower, 
but long-distance throwing is not unexceptionally good 
throwing. ' 

A good throwing catcher is one who can get the ball 
to the bases in the quickest time, with the least effort, 
and at the lowest altitude from the ground. Distance 
has nothing to do with it. By that is meant long distance. 
From home base to first base, or to third base, it is 90 
feet, and from home base to second base is over 127 feet. 
These are the standard throws for the catcher. He is 
compelled to make them over and over again. His accu¬ 
racy in making them, and the celerity with which he can 
make the ball travel, constitute good throwing. Almost 
all good catchers are snap throwers. They do not use a 
high, round arm, overhand motion. If they did they would 
never be successful against the speedier runners of the big 
leagues; nor, for that matter, against the speedier runners 
of school, or college, or town teams. The catcher who is 
compelled to get his arm over his shoulder in order that 
he may put continuous flight and direction into the pas¬ 
sage of the ball will not make much headway as a guardian 
of the bases. It is the player who can snap the ball from 
the elbow, with a secondary snap of the wrist, who is the 
mighty thrower behind the bat. The ball seldom or 
never arches in the air. It goes on a direct line to the 

22 Spalding's Athletic Library 

objective—at its highest point usually not nine feet above 
the surface of the ground—and woe unto the runner who 
tries to steal when such a catcher is throwing in co-opera ¬ 
tion with a topnotch pitcher. 

Learn to “snap” the ball to the base. 

By describing the throw *as a snap from the elbow it 
is not to be inferred that ^he young player should think 
that the shoulder does not come into the play as well as 
the forearm. It does come into the play, but the greater 
impetus is given to the ball by the forearm. Not every 
ball player has such a forearm as had Jimmy Archer, the 
former Chicago National League catcher. He could 
throw as well, or better, from a squatting position than 
some ball players can throw from a standing position. 
The forerunner of all snap throwers was “Buck” Ewing 
of the 1888-89 Giants. Bennett of Detroit and Boston, 
who was his nearest rival, had more of an overhand throw 
than Ewing. In reality that point of snap throwing was 
the marked difference between them. Each could handle 
the ball perfectly, each was a past master in watching the 
base-runners and studying the batters, and each had about 
the same natural grace. Ewing, however, could get the 
ball quicker to the bases than Bennett by the fraction of a 
minute, because Bennett had to get his arm up and arch 
the ball, while Ewing seemed to throw with motion half 
overhand, half underhand. In reality it was a snap, pure 
and simple. 

It would be absurd to say that all can be snap throwers 
like Ewing or Archer. We are not muscled alike. It is 
rare in base ball when a thrower of that character is 

Spalding's Athletic Library 23 

discovered. It has been about a quarter of a century since 
Ewing’s time, and there has been but one thrower like 
him, and he was not so good. On the other hand, there 
is nothing to prevent every young ball player from trying 
to acquire something of this ability to get the ball to the 
bases without that long, distracting motion overhand, 
which is equivalent to giving at least two steps to the 
runner, and often more, and half of the decisions which 
are given at the bases are a matter of only one step. 

The habit of taking a step when throwing. 

A snap thrower can throw flatfooted better than a 
round arm thrower. Now the question arises as to 
whether it is best always to throw flatfooted or to take a 
step. Almost all catchers take a step in order to clear 
themselves of the batter, and, I presume, unconsciously 
thinking they are closing in on the runner, for I do not 
believe that most of the time the catcher knows that he 
takes this step when he throws to one of the bases. Prob¬ 
ably he would dispute it if he were told that he did. 

If a catcher’s arm is none too good he likes to take 
the step. We aren’t considering plays for “dead arms.” 
Our young ball players are supposed to have good arms. 
All things considered, it is best, I imagine, for the younger 
ball players to take a step toward the base. Most of 
them have not quite developed the strength they need 
in order to throw well flatfooted and while they are taking 
the one step their vision is also obtaining a better scope 
of the play that is before them. I presume the accuracy 
of their throws is increased. Accuracy is one of the 
principal requisites and in the case of younger players, 

24 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

where the start may have been poor, a good throw, if 
delayed by the step, may be as dangerous to the base- 
runners as any other throw. Certainly a wild throw 
would avail nothing. 

Remember, if you are a right-hand thrower, that the 
right foot is the pivot foot. You can’t throw if your 
right foot is in advance when you wish to let go of the 
ball. Try it some time and you will find yourself stum¬ 
bling over your own toes. In connection with the fact 
that the right foot is the pivot foot, it is also well to 
remember that the right foot is behind when you throw 
and that your throw really counts from where your right 
foot is located and not from where your left foot may 
have sprawled. These little things may seem to you 
like discriminations of inches that do not amount to 
much. They are discriminations of inches, but never 
think they do not amount to much. All the game of base 
ball is one of time and inches. Base decisions, in par¬ 
ticular, hinge as a rule on whether the ball gets to the 
base in advance of the runner. The flight of the ball is 
time, the flight of the runner is distance. So you see 
minutes are steadily battling with inches. 

In connection with the matter of throwing it is oppor¬ 
tune to call the reader’s attention to the fact that the 
catcher is not merely the receiver of the ball to throw 
it back to the pitcher. He is the eyes of the team the 
moment that a runner gets on the bases. The pilot on 
the bridge of a big liner is not interested on what is going 
on down on the main deck. His eyes are straight ahead, 
intent on seeing whether there is anything in the way like 
small craft or drift lying in the channel which his big 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

ship is following on its way to the open ocean, the 
sparkling blue ocean where the intricacies of close-to- 
shore navigation are not oppressive. The runner on first 
base, if he is smart and a winner, keeps his eyes on the 
pitcher the moment that he gets to the base. If he lets 
them wander away it is only to follow the ball in order 
that he may not be trapped by some trick. He watches 
the pitcher to ascertain when there is a chance to get 
away from first base for second. 

Catcher should keep watch all the time. 

That is one pair of eyes busily at work. There should 
be a second pair just as busily engaged. The latter are 
the eyes of the catcher. It is his play to watch the runner 
with as much carefulness as the runner watches the 
pitcher. If he believes that the runner is about to leave 
first to try to steal the next base he can signal the pitcher 
to throw the ball well out, and knowing that the batter 
cannot reach it to hit it, has a fair chance to trap the 
runner. Suppose the pitcher has been hurried when he 
receives the sign for such a ball. He may have meant to 
pitch something else and, knowing that the runner is; 
going to the next base, in his haste to assist the catcher, 
he gets the ball too high in the air or pitches it at some 
impossible angle where the catcher is lucky to hold it. 

Here is- where the practise of snap throwing should 
have done the catcher some good. If he learned anything 
in that kind of practise we may imagine that he learned to 
get the ball away quickly, no matter what position his 
feet may have been in or where his arms may have been 
stretched so that he might get hold of the ball. The 

26 Spalding s Athletic Library 

point is that the only way to get the runner is to throw, 
and the catcher who can throw without being compelled 
to “set himself” is the catcher who will make his mark. 

Do not throw unnecessarily. 

Getting back to the point where the catcher is pre¬ 
sumed to be in good position to throw, the young player 
must have his attention called to the fact that it is bad 
policy to be throwing the ball all of the time. The worst 
fault in amateur base ball is that the players cannot be 
prevented from throwing needlessly. When professionals 
play amateurs, who may be giving them a good battle, 
all they say is: “Wait until they get to throwing the ball. 
It will be easy to defeat them then.” That has proved 
to be the case so often that it is a truism of base ball. 
Amateurs will throw when runners are in action, whether 
there is the slightest chance to put them out or not. 
The amateur player does not seem to be able to gauge 
the distance at which he cannot put a runner out. To try 
for an impossible play is foolish. Why take risk when 
there is no chance? 

That it is most advisable to practise throwing from 
any position is easy to perceive, when you stop to think 
how your skill is being analyzed by the other fellows. 
For instance, if the catcher can throw from only one 
throwing position; that, is, throw with any skill, it will 
not take long for the players of other teams to find that 
out. In the very first game it may become apparent. 
Runners watch those little deficiencies. They take advan¬ 
tage of them. The first time that some runner makes up 
his mind that the ball is going badly to the catcher, and 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 27 

that the latter has not perfected himself in throwing a 
ball badly served to him, off he will start for the next 
base, and it is reasonably certain that he will make it. 

How to throw to the baseman. 

There is another thing in connection with the throw. 
The catcher should always try to throw, so far as it lies 
within his power, in such a manner that the player who 
receives the ball will get it on that side of him which 
is toward the runner, advancing toward the base—except 
first base. Many catchers throw with a curve in spite 
of all their effort not to twist the flight of the ball. The 
only hope that they have to be successful is to keep it 
under control, as a curve is kept under control by the 
pitcher. They must learn to time the “break” in the ball 
with the probable position of the infielder. It is easy 
enough to see why it is not feasible to throw on the 
runner’s side when throwing to first base. That would 
bring the ball in line with the runner, with the chance 
of collision between runner and baseman, something to be 
avoided always. 

It is not good policy for the catcher to “lob”—that is, 
throw it in an arching manner—the ball when throwing it. 
The game may be such that a quick return is needed 
most of all, and when the catcher arches the ball to a 
baseman under such conditions it is bad play. Speed the 
ball up whenever possible. It might almost be said that 
no catcher can throw hard enough to a baseman to cause 
the latter to muff direct. He may muff, but it will be 
more likely due to interference or to bad gauging of the 
throw on his own part. Speed lodges a ball well in a 

28 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

fielder’s hands. In addition to that, speed gives the 
baseman a chance. When the catcher gets the ball on the 
wrong side of the base-runner, as he will sometimes, 
the baseman must shift the ball from one hand to the 
other, and still touch the runner out before the latter 
can dig his feet into the base. If the ball has been thrown 
without energy the runner is likely to beat it out. 

There is another point to be considered. A ball thrown 
with speed frequently will bound as straight as a rifle 
shot into the hands of the baseman, providing the ball, 
even though short in distance, is accurate in flight and 
hustling with power. Many a base-runner has been 
thrown out because the thrown ball bounded well to the 
baseman, but there would not have been a chance to 
make a play if there had not been strength in the catcher’s 
arm to put speed on the ball. 

Typical balance on one foot after throwing the 
ball. Used to gain force. (Posed by Hank Gowdy.) 

Conlon, Photos. 

A high, arching, round-arm motion in throwing 
the ball to the bases. (Posed by Walter Schang.) 


Catcher, wearing mask, chest protector, mitt and shin guards in proper position behind the batter. 
Note that the batter is what is known as a “front hitter.” He stands in, with one foot in advance of 
the home plate. The ball has just been pitched and the catcher is set to receive it. Owing to an optical 
illusion, due to the angle at which the photograph i s taken, the catcher appears to be some distance 
away from home plate. In reality, he is almost upon it. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


Behind the Bat 

The boys who are just beginning and some catchers 
who have had a little experience too often make the 
mistake of standing too far back of the batter. By that, 
one little fault it is almost always possible to recognize 
the novice. The longer that a catcher remains with the 
more expert players the greater his desire to get as close 
to the batter as he dare in trying to catch the ball. Not 
infrequently I have seen a catcher cautioned by the 
umpire to step back. He may have thought that the 
catcher intended to interfere with the batter, because 
there have been catchers who were tricky enough to do 
that sort of thing, although it is not sportsmanlike, nor 
is it honest play. 

The idea of getting as closely to the batter as possible 
is a good one and based on sound principles. The quicker 
that the catcher can handle a curve ball after it has begun 
to “break,” the better his chance to handle it with accu¬ 
racy. As the ball curves further it twists more awk¬ 
wardly and gets out of reach. A pitcher who is inclined 
to be wild will have poor control if his catcher plays too 
far back of the batter. Foul tips are caught more luckily 
if the catcher is close up than if he is away from the 
plate. The foul tip takes a jump, or a slant, when the 
ball hits the bat, and the deviation of the ball from a 
straight flight will be less if it is caught close up to the 
home plate. 

The catcher does not stand erect all of the time. He 
could, if he wished to do so, but the modern method is 
to squat behind the plate. From this position the catchers 

32 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

of the present day believe they can give their signals 
with more secrecy than from a standing position. That 
is very likely true. It would be an easy task to stand 
erect, and with fingers and hands attempt to tell the 
pitcher what the catcher would like to have pitched. It 
could be done, but by the time the catcher had finished 
everybody would know what had been going on if the 
signs could be translated. 

In the diagram the position of the feet, as designated 
by A, shows the proper place for the catcher to stand 

behind the batter. The point, C, is the station of the 
batter in the batter’s box. This diagram is specially 
intended as a hint to beginners and to catchers on boys* 
teams. Both beginners and boys have a tendency to 


Spalding's Athletic Library 

stand too far back and too far to one side, as is illus¬ 
trated by B. The objections to standing at the point, B, 
or approximately near it, are that foul tips are less easily 
caught, the pitcher loses the value of the catcher’s body 
as a target at which to throw, and the turn of the ball in 
curve pitching is caught at a bad angle, with the added 
fact that the ball is on the down break and more difficult 
to handle, the catcher’s hands being employed too much 
around his knees when they should be as high from the 
ground as possible. 

Position from which signs should be given. 

Squat down and crouch forward, keep the feet well 
together, and hold the mitt in the angle which is formed 
by the body and the thighs. Now you are in the right 
attitude to give signs to the pitcher. With practise you 
can acquire cleverness enough to signal the pitcher and 
the outfielders with such dexterity that the other side 
will be unable to ascertain what is going on—all but a 
runner of the other side, if there happens to be one on 
second base. Watch out for him, because he is watching 
you. The moment that he gets to second base, if he is 
sharp-eyed, he is studying every movement of the catcher 
to see what signs he uses. If he can ascertain them it 
will not be long before the other team will be rapping 
the ball or stealing bases when not expected to do so. 
They will have found the secret of the defense. If the 
pitcher and catcher work by the plan of the catcher 
giving the signals, it is impossible to avoid giving away 
what sort of a ball the catcher wishes to have pitched. 
Always try to give information to the fielders at the same 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

time. If they know what the pitcher will deliver to the 
batter they will govern their shift in the field accordingly. 

After the sign has been given the catcher can assume 
an erect position or a position half erect. Stand up, with 
the gloved hand and the ungloved hand stretched toward 
home plate. If the pitcher is wild shake both hands on a 
line with the center of the plate to attract his eye, and 
then hold them steadily at a right angle to your hips. 
It will give him a target at which to aim. Many pitchers 
have bad control more because they cannot see the plate 
as a target than because they are erratic throwers. When 
the home plate is covered by dirt it is a very unsatisfac¬ 
tory object as a target point. 

Be careful that batter does not discover signals. 

Do not give any intimation to the batter by the manner 
in which the feet are shifted as to the kind of curve 
that is likely to come. If an attempt is made to fool 
him he will soon become aware of the trick and watch 
for it, and he will be about as quick to learn when such a 
shift is made half unconsciously, because the catcher is 
not careful. Be really to move rapidly. If the best 
pitcher in the world happened to be pitching to you he 
might make a half wild pitch on the first ball that he 
threw. If you are “anchored,” as the ball players say, 
you can not change your position quickly enough to make 
a perfect stop of the ball. 

The catcher must bear in mind that he must be ready 
to stop possible wild pitches on both sides of the plate. 
Frequently the ball gets away altogether from the pitcher, 
and if the catchers were not so expert there would be a 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

great many more wild pitches recorded at the end of the 
seasons which are played by the major and minor leagues. 
Keep on your toes, because there are high foul flies to be 
caught, and even the catches of the outfielders are not 
more difficult than some of those high, twisting fouls 
which mount into the sun, and between sun and the 
shade of the stand or foliage are almost indistinguishable. 

The throw to second base is another thing that demands 
alacrity on your part. You must shift to where you are 
clear of the batter to throw in one of three ways, to first, 
to second, or to third base. The throw to third does 
not seem to be difficult, yet catchers undertake it but 
seldom owing to the fact that most catchers, being right- 
handed, and also most of the batters, the catcher’s arm 
must cross the batter unless the catcher is apt enough 
to throw behind the batter. 

Always try to get the ball from the pitcher when there 
is a runner on the bases in such a manner that you can 
get a quick grip on it with the throwing hand. Of course, 
if the ball has come squarely into the mitt it will have to 
be lifted out of the mitt. That’s all there is to it. If 
you have caught it in such a manner that you can cover 
it quickly with the fingers of your right hand, getting a 
grip on it at the same time, the chances are infinitely 
better that you will make a speedy and accurate throw. 
If you have to fuss with the ball the runner will be edging 
away from you all of the time. Every step that he gains 
makes your work harder. Don't throw or think of throw¬ 
ing if you have dropped the ball and the runner is within 
a few feet of the base. If you throw hurriedly it prob¬ 
ably means a wild throw, with the runner going to third 

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Spalding’s Athletic Library 37 

instead of being on second, and in addition to dropping 
the ball you have given the runner a base which he might 
never have made but for your rashness in attempting the 

Take off mask when running after high fouls. 

Adjust your mask in such a way that a quick pull will 
release it. The quicker that you can get it off the better 
the chance to get the high fouls. There was a time, in 
the early days of the mask, when the catcher did not 
try to throw it off. He attempted to catch fouls while 
wearing the mask, but that long ago was given up. The 
masks are far better made and the catchers know much 
better how to use them. When you throw the mask off 
throw it out of the direction in which you are running. 
Practise will quickly teach you how to do that. It isn’t 
pleasant to stumble over one’s mask and come a cropper 
in a tangle of wire and straps, not to mention the loss of 
the catch. 

Spalding's Athletic Library 


Using the Mitt Correctly 

I can almost hear the beginner laugh when he 
receives a hint that he must learn to use the catcher’s 
mitt properly. I know a small nephew who had a 
good laugh about it until he found out that so simple 
a matter as handling a catcher’s mitt had its right way 
and its wrong way. 

There has been objection to playing the position of 
catcher because of possible raps on the finger joints. 
The physical pain is unpleasant and the occasional 
annoyance is enlargement of the bones, which does not 
add to the beauty of the hands—although most boys 
are not particular about that—and some parent may 
believe that it will prevent the young athlete from 
becoming an expert player on the piano or other musi¬ 
cal instrument. 

“All that you have to do with a mitt is to put it on 
and catch the ball,” said the small nephew. So far as 
the statement went, it was right. The mitt, however, 
has been devised to put an end, as much as possible, to 
the hurts which marred the playing of the boy, the 
beginner, and the grown man. Nowadays the catcher, 
if he handles the mitt right, is in no more fear of 
injury than the first baseman or any other infielder, 
except that his possibilities are much more numerous, 
because of the greater number of times that he is com¬ 
pelled to handle the ball. 

The thing to do is to learn to receive the ball in the 
mitt. Let the latter bear all of the hard work. It is 

40 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

not impossible, although some may think it is. To 
learn to use the mitt right is to remove the impossible. 
No matter how great the speed of the pitcher may be, 
the mitt is such a well padded cushion that the shock 
of collision, when the ball comes “head on,” as we may 
say, is felt but little on the surface of the palm of the 
hand. It is quite out of the question to sting the fin¬ 
gers of the protected hand or to bruise them, as was 
the case in other days before the splendid mitt now 
in use was invented. The catcher learns to “give” 
with the ball. That is part of the idea of using the 
mitt properly. The uncovered hand is never to be 
used as a buffer. It is the trap which closes over the 
ball after the mitt has stopped it. 

Using the backhand motion to stop the ball. 

Now and then, when the bat touches the ball, it will 
deflect its flight, so that the ball shoots to one side. 
For a while the catcher took a shoot like that on the 
bare hand, not infrequently with much disadvantage to 
himself. Catchers now have a backhand motion by 
which they reach across and stop the flight of the ball 
with the mitt. There are foul tips which come at 
lightning speed that cannot be stopped by the pro¬ 
tected hand, because neither hand # can get out of the 
way of them. That hazard of the game cannot be 
avoided. Fielders in excitement have been known to 
throw full speed at short distance during a game, and 
the fielder to whom the ball was thrown could not 
dodge. Time forbade. Gnarled finger joints, twisted 
fingers, and distorted knuckles quickly went when the 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

catcher’s mitt was invented. The catcher of today is 
far better off than his predecessor. 

As the mitt has done so much for the catcher, it is 
not out of place to say that it has changed in many 
details the work of the backstop. The old idea of 
catching was to fight the ball, to reach out for it, and 
grab it, almost before the batter had time to strike at 
it. Now that the catcher and pitcher work in such 
perfect harmony, owing to the prevalence of good sig¬ 
nal systems, the catcher can place the hand on which 
he wears a mitt almost at the identical spot where the 
ball will come. With his uncovered hand he is ready 
in a moment to grip the ball with firmness and throw 
it to bases, if necessary, to head off some ambitious 

One hand does most of the work. 

It is not compulsory to place both hands in a cer¬ 
tain position to receive the ball. Use the catcher’s 
mitt, as it is made now, and the beginner will quickly 
learn that one hand does almost all of the work that 
two did in the old days, while the second, or free hand, 
is ready for any play which may arise. Thus it is that 
all catchers are by necessity and convenience more 
one-hand catchers than they were before in the history 
of base ball. 

It will be found that in catching foul flies—one of 
the most deceptive hits that come to the man behind 
the bat—the mitt is an important adjunct to assist¬ 
ance. It is necessary first, of course, to judge a foul fly 
successfully. After the catcher is once under the ball, 

42 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

if he will let it drop in his mitt and trap it with his 
bare hand, he will find it much easier to hold than if 
he makes an effort to make a fair two-handed catch. 
This is particularly true when the ball happens to be 
twisting. In years gone by, when the catchers used 
light gloves, or none at all, the “twisters” that arose 
behind the bat were a constant irritation. Perhaps 
one-third of the time the ball would wriggle out of the 
catcher’s hands, no matter how bravely he tried to hold 
it, and the result would be another life for the bats¬ 

Using the mitt properly, as it is manufactured now¬ 
adays, the catcher has but to let it get fairly under the 
ball, which will lodge securely enough to be easily held 
by the free hand. The concave surface of the mitt 
seems to act as a deadener to the twist of the high foul 
fly, and unless the ball is spinning around at an unu¬ 
sually rapid rate, it is not apt to get away. 

The mitt does not interfere in the least in throwing 
to bases. On the contrary, its surface is so ample that 
it gives the catcher a chance to get a good, firm grip 
on the ball, and he is in position to throw at the very 
moment in which he draws back his arm and hand. 

When one looks at advertisements in an old Spald¬ 
ing Guide of the ’80s, and sees the glove—there were 
no mitts—with fingers cut off half way, he can appre¬ 
ciate the improvement that has been made in equip¬ 

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Always try to catch the ball on the mitt and not on the bare hand. As shown in the illustration, the 
bare hand is used to hold the ball against the mitt after the ball has been stopped. Conlon, Photo. 

An excellent body and shoulder motion in throwing to second 
base when the catcher is wearing mask, protector and mitt. 

Conlon, Photo. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


The Thinking Part of Catching 

It is not to be expected that the youngsters in the 
growing age of knickerbockers will have the steadi¬ 
ness to give the thought which calls for the “reason” 
for every play. This book on catching has been pre¬ 
pared. however, for the youth and the young adult as 
well as the boys, and it is its purpose to make the 
hints on playing so plain and simple that the small 
boys will pick them up as well as the larger boys. 
They are not expected to grasp all at once or to grasp 
all the possibilities of the catcher’s position at once. 
There are major league catchers who do not know, 
after some years of experience, all of the finer points 
of the game. Some of them are too indifferent. That’s 
it—actually indifferent. They go through their work 
mechanically enough, but they never are members of 
the championship teams. The players who think and 
who are as happy in doing the little things right as 
they are in making spectacular plays at some time or 
another, generally are seen with the champions, be¬ 
cause it is attention to the details and small points of 
the game, as much as heavy hitting, that rounds out a 
quick thinking championship team. 

When the catcher has donned his big mitt and taken 
his place behind the batter, his active part in the game 
has begun. It has been told how he should stand and 
effort has been made to help him in the mechanical 
part of his playing, but that is not all that he is sup¬ 
posed to do. In the first place, he is supposed to have 

46 Spalding s Athletic Library 

a good understanding with his pitcher. Between them 
their signs should be so well known that it is not nec¬ 
essary for the catcher to stop the game to walk out to 
the pitcher and tell him that he hasn’t caught the sign 
correctly. Whenever that happens the other side 
knows that the pitcher and catcher are not very well 
acquainted in a base ball way, and they govern their 
acts accordingly. They are then likely to be a bit 
more daring in leading off the bases and will almost 
certainly test the catcher by trying to steal, in order 
to learn whether the pitcher is helping him by getting 
the ball quickly to the plate. 

Have your signs fully understood before play starts. 

Consult about the signs before the game begins, and 
not when the inning begins. 

In a first game between strange teams, no one ex¬ 
pects the catcher to know exactly what kind of a ball 
each batter most favors, or most dislikes. The smaller 
boys always have to take chances on that part of the 
game. What the catcher should do is to try the batter 
out, and try to remember when he is trying him out 
whether he swung poorly at a curve, at a fast ball, or 
at a slow one, and whether he dodged away from a 
curve or stepped into a fast one awkwardly, showing 
no relish for speed. If the catcher can get a little 
information on each batter the first time that he comes 
to the box to bat, it will be worth a lot when he comes 
up the second time to bat. Of course, in the big 
leagues, and in the more important minor leagues, 
they are supposed to study those things all of the time. 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

Not all of them do. There are major league catchers 
who cannot tell the weaknesses of more than twenty-five 
per cent, of the batters who play against them. They try 
their best to watch the known sluggers and frequently 
overlook the other batters. 

Study the batters. 

Everyone knows that a straight ball is the easiest of 
all to gauge unless it is pitched with extreme speed. 
There are batters who like to swing at speed. It is 
always dangerous to give them a straight ball with 
much force, because if they meet it squarely they will 
very likely bat it over the fence. If they do not make 
a long hit they are apt to cut it through the infield a 
“mile a minute.” If a strange batter behind whom one 
is playing for the first time unhesitatingly swings with 
a parallel motion for the first straight ball that is 
pitched, caution had better be exercised about pitch¬ 
ing any more of that kind to him. He has told very 
apparently what he likes. Try curves for him, or a 
slow teaser, or if speed is to be used, keep it very high 
and close into him, so that he will hit with the handle 
of the bat if he does meet the ball. 

In the foregoing you will see that a valuable point 
has been covered thus early. It is pretty certain that 
any catcher, young or old, will not overlook anything 
so plain. There are some batters who make a practice 
of taking one strike at least before they will try to 
bat the ball. Most catchers try to get their pitchers 
to pitch a strike on the first ball to such batters. Be 
a little careful how the strike is pitched. If the batter 

48 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

finds that a first straight ball is coming to him all the 
time from certain pitchers, it is not unlikely that in 
some important ^ame, instead of taking the one strike, 
the batter will swing and ‘'hit the ball a mile” with 
runners on bases. A good pitcher will respond to a 
signal for a curve on the corner. A ball is a strike if 
over the corner exactly as if it is over the center of the 
plate, and there will be less temptation to take a swing 
at a corner curve. A very interesting chapter on this 
theory of keeping the batter guessing—on the part of 
the pitcher—is printed in the Spalding Athletic Li¬ 
brary book, “Base Ball for Beginners,” by John B. 
Sheridan, the originator of the boys’ size diamond, 
price 10 cents. 

If the catcher knows that a batter has a liking for a 
high ball he should never give him one—that is, if he 
hits the high ball safely most of the time. What is the 
use of tempting fate and the loss of the game? If the 
catcher knows positively that the batter is a low ball 
hitter he will be very foolish to call for a low ball 
from the pitcher over the plate. A good pitcher can 
keep the ball high and he can pitch strikes with some 
disregard of extreme caution if his catcher continues 
to signal him for high ones to the batter who favors low 
pitching to any other kind. 

At first it may seem as if the catcher has much to 
think about—trying to recall what Jack hits, what 
Tom doesn’t hit, and so on. You will be surprised, 
however, after the practise of observation has gone on 
for a while, to see how easy it becomes to remember. 
It is a sort of subconscious act. Fred comes to the 


Spalding's Athletic Library 

bat for the first time and you sign the pitcher for a 
drop ball on the outside. Fred swings blindly at the 
ball. A little entry jots itself down in your mind— 
“weak on a drop.” Perhaps the next ball will be a 
high one, to which he pays no attention, so back goes * 
the sign for another drop, and again Fred attempts to 
hit the ball. You may call for the drop on the very 
next pitch, but the batter, a little wary this time, 
refuses to swing at the ball, which goes wide. Come 
right back with another drop, which looks as if it 
were going over home plate, and he is so sure that it 
is going over the plate that he swings and misses, or 
hits a feeble blow to the infield. The catcher had as 
much to do with that as the pitcher, in a way, because 
he was telling the pitcher broadly all the time how to 
pitch to this man, for he could see how he handled his 
bat at the plate. 

Catching the batter napping. 

That’s the way the game goes with batter after bat¬ 
ter. Sometimes the catcher has a sign for a quick 
return. Some batters are slow and dilatory at the 
plate. They should not be. That is not why they are 
there, but they are incautious, nevertheless. With the 
same motion that the catcher threw the ball back to 
the pitcher he can ask the latter to pitch again at once. 
The batter, caught off guard, is sure to growl and is 
almost sure to be penalized by a strike if the pitcher 
has good control of the ball. 

It is always a good rule for the catcher to reverse 
what the batter seems to like. Now and then it will 

50 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

not work, because there are so many chances in base 
ball. If a batter likes low ones, however, give him 
high ones, and if he likes speed, give him a slow ball, 
and keep reversing these as long as you are a catcher. 
It is also to be noted whether the batter likes to swing 
at the ball when it is close in or when it is out. 

Studying the batter’s style. 

Most batters are fooled by reaching wide for curves 
that break off the further corner of home plate. There 
are some batters, however, who take a step toward the 
ball, if it is pitched wide, and meet it just as the curve 
is about to break. Better not pitch many wide ones to 
them. The easier way to fool them is to pitch inside 
and drive them back. A pitched ball that is close in is 
about as hard to hit as anything, but now and then a 
batter can be found who likes that kind to hit best of 
all, and a batter who can hit on the inside usually can 
hit hard and wickedly. As a rule, in games which are 
played by boys, high balls are the hardest for the 
youngsters to handle. However, Nature has compen¬ 
sated for that, because it is also a rule that the younger 
pitchers have any amount of difficulty to control the 
high ball. They don’t pitch around the shoulder as 
well as around the waist. 

Probably the catcher will think that he has something 
of a task when he is told that in addition to looking after 
these batters all of the time he also must look after the 
base-runners. That, too, is an important part of his play, 
and when there are plenty of runners on the other team 
who are known to be fast, and who can get a good lead 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

away from a slow pitcher, the catcher is about the busiest 
man on the field. 

As much as possible the batter and base-runner, if 
there be a runner, will try to work together. The catcher 
cannot prevent them from trying to baffle him, but he 
can do a little trying himself, and make an effort to keep 
them from succeeding in making a run at his expense. 
If certain players get on first base it is equally certain 
that they are going to try to get to second, and that if 
they can work with the batter as they hope to work, they 
will possibly get to third and the batter will get a base 
hit. That is the hit-and-run theory. With a runner on 
any base it means the same thing. The moment, there¬ 
fore, that a runner has arrived at first the catcher is con¬ 
fronted with a dual task. He must still attempt to enable 
the pitcher to outwit the batter, and he must keep an eye 
on that man at first who is dancing around as if there 
were hot coals under his feet. 

The “old army game.” 

Perhaps you have heard the expression in base ball 
about the “old army game.” The “old army game” means 
that the batter will try to bunt if there is a runner on 
first base and no one out. There are some managers 
who make this play as devoutly as if it were worship. 
That is why it is called the “old army game.” It is a 
one-run play, pure and simple. Sometimes more runs 
are made in an inning when it is attempted, but the 
impulse and the plan is to get the one run sure. 

Boys do not do much bunting, but they try it now 
and then. If the catcher is certain that the batter is 

52 Spalding's Athletic Library 

desirous to bunt be should have the ball pitched inside, 
or very fast and low. The batter will have hard work to 
make a successful bunt on that kind of pitching. Of 
course, the ball must be over the plate, because if the 
batter received a base on balls, it would be just as 
good as a sacrifice or a base hit. In fact better than 
a sacrifice, as there would be no one out instead of 
one out. Keep an eye on the runner, and if he appears 
likely to start on the next pitched ball, ask the pitcher 
to give you a “wide one,” but don’t call for too many 
“pitch outs.” Like some other plays in base ball, it 
is overworked and it shows a little weakness on the 
part of the catcher. Of course, if you are confident 
at any time that the runner has given notice that he 
will try for second on the next ball pitched, you will 
be very foolish not to try to make the play a sure out 
for your team if possible. With two out and a team 
anxious to make a last effort to tie the score it is 
fairly good odds that the runner will try to steal 
second on one of the pitched balls and the catcher 
should be ready to go after him on a moment’s notice. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


With Runners On Bases 

Information has been given as to the best way to get 
the ball to the base if the runner does start. The neces¬ 
sity for accuracy and quickness have been told. Your 
throws to second should be low and well on the side of 
the bag toward which the runner is coming. That saves 
time. Repeatedly a runner steals second base in the face 
of a perfect throw. That is to say, the throw was 
straight, and it was fast, but the ball landed on the short¬ 
stop’s side of the bag and before the baseman could get 
it over to the other side of the bag to touch the runner 
he had slid safely to the mark. 

The covering of second base is not up to the catcher. 
Of course, he should know whether the shortstop or the 
second baseman is going to cover, as a matter of informa¬ 
tion, but that is all that he need know. His business is 
to get the ball to the base at the quickest possible moment 
and in the best possible way for the runner to be put out. 

It is taken for granted that the first baseman is gener¬ 
ally alert, but more than often his mind is taken up with 
something else than a throw to catch a runner napping at 
first, if the throw comes from the catcher. In case the 
latter notices a disposition on the part of the runner to 
stroll away too far from first base he would better be 
sure that the first baseman has been given a signal that he 
is going to throw on the next pitched ball, and that the 
first baseman has caught the signal. Otherwise the ball 
may be thrown into right field, because the first baseman 
was caught off his guard. 

54 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

Third base is not stolen as much as it should be tried. 
When a runner arrives at second he plays safe. He is 
fearful that if he tries to steal third and is thrown out, 
especially if the game is close, that he will lose standing 
with the crowd. Yet be sure that a weather eye is on 
the runner, if there is one on second. He may surprise 
everybody by suddenly bolting from second to third, 
and if he makes the base he has a chance to score on a 
long fly if there is but one hand out. A passed ball and 
a wild pitch, or an error, will also help him. When there 
are players on first and second bases and a double steal 
is attempted, throw the ball to third base the moment 
that you get your hands on it. After that remember 
that you are to guard home plate in case of an error 
and do not run away and leave it undefended, so that 
the third baseman has no one to whom to throw the 
ball, if the runner is between third base and home. 

When catcher has men to watch on first and third 

The most difficult moment for the catcher, so far as 
base-running is concerned, is when there is a player on 
first and another on third. All kinds of systems are tried 
by managers to prevent stealing. About the best thing 
to do is to give thought to the batter who is at the plate. 
If he is not much of a batter, make a bluff for the runner 
who is going to second and then wheel around and try 
for the runner on third, if he has been coaxed off the 
base. If the batter is a good batter, play for a quick 
return to the plate. That means a short throw, either to 
the pitcher or to the infield. Whatever may be done, be 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

sure not to make an error. That is one time when errors 
are very disastrous, especially if there is a chance to tie 
the score or win. Get one runner, if possible. 

Almost all runners slide feet first when they come in 
to the plate on close decisions or when they expect they 
may be thrown out. The old headforemost sliding is 
quite done away with in good base ball. Sliding feet 
foremost means that the spikes are in advance of the 
runner. It is possible to touch a runner without blocking 
him, and, on the whole, it. is better to touch him without 
blocking him, because there is danger to the catcher in 
blocking a base-runner, and if a good catcher is injured 
and unable to play for a period his team suffers by the 
loss of his services. The catcher is also called upon to 
take care of many throws from the outfield. Most of 
them will come on the bound. All of them should come 
on the bound, but occasionally an outfielder gets excited 
and tries a line throw to the plate. The catcher must be 
able to shift around quickly to get these throws and 
should take plenty of practise that he may stop anything 
which comes to him on the bound. 

The catcher is using his mitt as a shield to prevent the coachers stationed 
at the bases from observing his signals. 

Sometimes the catcher gives his signs underneath the mitt instead of hold* 
mg it at right angles from him. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


Battery Signs 

There is something about the word signs that interests 
the prospective catcher whether he is young or old. It 
conveys the idea of intelligent direction of a ball game 
and in a manner that is perfectly legitimate, because it 
is open to discovery if the other side is smart enough to 
understand the method of expression which is being used 
by the team in the field, and it places a premium on 

If signs meant something, which included also an 
unfair advantage, they would not be symbolical of fair 
sport. They do not mean anything of the kind. Their 
purpose is that of direct communication between the 
catcher and the pitcher and between other members of a 
team—if the code of signs extends that far—by a system 
of signals understood by those who employ it, and which 
is expressed in such a manner that only those who are 
acquainted with the signs grasp their significance. 

Signs are attractive to the seasoned player, with all of 
his experience, as to his younger brother. The catcher 
not only delights in playing well, but he takes pride in 
being able to converse intimately with his pitcher in a 
language not to be understood by opposing players, even 
though it may be partly perceptible all of the time. Com¬ 
munication is carried on so cleverly that one team is pre¬ 
sumed to be unable to decipher the medium of expression 
which is used by the other. 

The simpler the signs which are used in base ball the 
more practical they will, be found. For the younger 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

players it does not do at all to try to learn an involved 
code of finger signs, signs by word, or signs by move¬ 
ments of the arms or legs. In the excitement of a game 
the signs are too likely to be mixed, with unfortunate 
results, and, worse yet, are too likely to be forgotten 
or to be used at the wrong time unconsciously. 

In one of the school teams which I saw play one after¬ 
noon the catcher shifted his foot a certain way for a 
straight ball. He got along splendidly for a while. His 
team was ahead and his pitcher was keeping the batting 
down to a minimum. An error or two happened and 
the situation changed quite completely. 

Catcher unconsciously gave wrong sign. 

It only takes a mistake or two to make a material dif¬ 
ference in a ball game. The catcher began to get nervous. 
With men on the bases naturally he wanted his pitcher 
to do his very best. In his laudable desire to do the 
right thing he did the wrong. Unconsciously he gave a 
signal to the pitcher for a straight ball. The latter seemed 
to be a little surprised, and, as the writer happened to 
know the signs of the team, he, too, was surprised. The 
pitcher might have hesitated and shaken his head in the 
negative, but, as he said afterward, he was afraid if he 
did that one of the other side might get “on to the sign” 
because a change would have to be made. He pitched the 
straight ball and the score was tied on the strength of the 
hit which followed. Eventually his team won the game. 

After the contest was over the catcher was asked how 
he came to give a sign for a straight ball under the 
circumstances. “I didn’t,” was the reply. “Oh, yes,” 


Spalding's Athletic Library 

said the pitcher, “you asked for a straight ball.” The 
pitcher had evidence on his side to confirm his assertion 
that the straight ball had been thrown on the strength 
cf the signal. 

Do not use signs that may be misunderstood. 

We found out that the catcher really thought he had 
signed for a curved ball. The trouble with his sign for a 
straight ball was that it was similar to a movement which 
he was accustomed to make with his foot in moments 
of excitement, and he had unconsciously called for a 
straight ball when he had another purpose in his mind. 
It is not good policy to have any sign in a code identical 
with anything which is common on the part of a player 
who is to give the sign, as, in a moment of abstraction 
or nervousness, he may do what this catcher did—give 
the wrong sign, and not be aware of the fact himself. 

After the invention of the big mitt for the catcher it 
became more common to give signs by the fingers. The 
mitt made a splendid screen in front of which the catcher 
could hide his ungloved hand and signal with his fingers 
to the pitcher. Prior to the time of the mitt it was not 
so easy to conceal finger signs. As the mitt never will 
go out of base ball unless there is a radical change in the 
game, which none of us can foresee now, the catcher 
may be advised without hesitancy to devise any signs 
that he wishes to use in which the mitt will shield his 
“deaf and dumb talk.” 

Signs can be made with any finger, any number of 
fingers, the thumb, and the thumb and finger. The com¬ 
binations are so many, and so obvious, that any boy or 

60 Spalding's Athletic Library 

young player can easily put a system together. The fist, 
doubled up, can be used. The hand open, with palm 
extended either one way or the other, can be the basis 
of a system. A great pretense can be made of giving 
the signs on the glove while, in reality, another method 
quite different is being employed. 

There is one big league catcher who fooled everybody 
for all of his catching years by pretending to be giving 
signs with his fingers across the inside of his catching 
mitt, when the fact was that all of his signs were given 
by voice. Season after season he squatted down behind 
the plate and went through all of the mystery of hiding 
his hands, and apparently signaling the pitcher by that 

One of the many methods of signaling. The ungloved hand is kept behind 
the screen provided by the catcher’s mitt and the sign is given close to the 
leg of the catcher. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 61 

method. Season after season he kept up a constant 
chatter of seemingly nonsensical conversation, using stock 
phrases over and over, until even the critics began to 
chide him about his “parrot talk.” The interesting part 
of this was that the “parrot talk” really conveyed the 
sign to the pitcher. The manner in which he rattled on 
was so alike day after day, and so seemingly only the 
mechanical utterance of a player who didn’t know of 
much anything else to say, that he threw all of his 
opponents off the scent. Coachers and - captains hung 
around the base lines in the coachers’ boxes, and runners 
at second base studied in vain to get his signs. He man¬ 
ipulated his fingers cleverly, and with such apparent 
effort of intention, that the impression went around his 
circuit that he had the best system of signaling of any 
major league catcher, because no one could decipher it. 
He did have the best system, although many a time he 
got “joshed” by opposing players because of his monot¬ 
onous jabbering when he was behind the bat. 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

Using first and second fingers. 

Using the flat of the hand. 

Grasping mitt at lower end. 

Using the thumb. 

Using thumb and index finger. 


Spalding s Athletic Library 


A Simple Finger Code 

If the catcher were good at concealing his fingers he 
could make up a code as simple as the following, which 
is given only as a possible sample. 

Close the fingers of the ungloved hand and 
hold the thumb erect for a drop ball. 

Close the fingers of the ungloved hand, mak¬ 
ing of it a tightly shut fist, for a curve ball. 

In both of these instances sink the ungloved 
hand in the palm of the mitt. 

Close the fingers of the ungloved hand and hit 
the mitt twice for a fast ball. It doesn’t matter 
much about height when a fast ball is pitched, 
for the catcher is supposed to be able to get a 
fast ball anywhere. 

Keep the fingers open for an inshoot, merely 
holding the hand in position to catch. 

There is nothing that is intricate about the foregoing. 
That is the reason why such a simple code is given as 
an example of what may be done. 

Giving signs on the mitt. 

For the benefit of young players and beginners, in the 
outline drawings used in this chapter an indication is 
given of the manner in which the gloved hand is em¬ 
ployed to give signs to the pitcher with the mitt as a 
screen. These diagrams are purely examples and but a 
few of the many ways in % which signs may be given by 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

the catcher to the pitcher. Each diagram may call for a 
special pitch. 

The signs can be made as complex as the catcher and 
pitcher wish to make them, but it is best not to attempt 
too much. Of course in a major league, where every 
effort is made all of the time to discover every possible 
intent of the side in the field, there is a tendency to 
develop signs which are of the most secretive character, 
but it is not good policy for the beginners to venture too 
deeply into that sort of thing, as has been hinted before. 
Don’t get the signs so deceptive that they are forgotten 
and do not make up too many of them. It is not a bad 
idea to have two codes of signs, because one may be 
discovered by the other team. If you have perfected 
yourself in two codes be sure that they are not mixed 
in the heat of the game, or you will have the pitcher 
so wrought up that he will lose his effectiveness as a 
pitcher as well as losing track of the signs. 

Using the feet for signals. 

The feet can be used for signs, but it takes cleverness 
to devise a code in which the feet play the most important 
part. The feet, so to speak, are rather obvious. Coachers, 
batters and runners can get a good look at them. Never¬ 
theless, for a long time one of the catchers in the National 
League gave the sign for a curve ball with his right 
foot. When he squatted down behind the batter if his 
light foot was in front of the left foot the pitcher was 
to use a curve. It is a great deal more natural for a 
catcher to squat down with his right foot back of the left, 
yet with all their keenness the players of other teams 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 65 

went a whole season without knowing how a sign for 
a curve was given by this catcher. Another catcher, 
when he wanted the ball high and fast and on the inside 
invariably, after seeming to give his sign, would stand 
erect, step toward the pitcher, shake both hands as if he 
were making a target to steady the pitcher, and thus 
give the sign for the kind of ball he wished to have 

One catcher gave signs by pounding his mitt. If he 
pounded twice it was for a curve. If he pounded three 
times, for a straight ball. If he did not pound, the pitcher 
was to use an inshoot. It was a good code, but for only 
a little while. In the early part of the season the catcher 
‘observed it faithfully, but as the games became harder 
fought he began to get more excitable, and pounded his 
glove so repeatedly that the pitcher often was unable to 
solve what his pounding meant. That code was aban¬ 
doned. It had another fault. That was its openness. 
A good coacher was likely to be able to grasp its meaning 
after watching the pounding for a time. On the other 
hand, the catcher did get his pitcher so that he could 
shift the sign. On^ day one pound meant one thing, and 
the next time the catcher and pitcher worked together 
it meant just the opposite. Naturally that was enough 
to fool any team. Still it was a method that was too 
©pen to discovery and the pounding code was abandoned. 

Signaling with index finger. 

Another catcher signaled only with the index finger. 
If it was extended straight across the glove he called for 
a curve. If the finger was doubled he called for a low 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

ball. If it was held under the end of the mitt he called 
for a high ball. Those were all the signs that this catcher 
gave. He contracted to take care of anything that would 
be pitched which came within the scope of those three 
“telegrams.” He was a smart catcher, as good a catcher, 
take him all around, as almost any who ever found his 
way into professional base ball. He studied his pitcher 
sc that he knew by the first motion which the latter made 
what was coming to the plate and except for the intent 
to baffle the batter that catcher could have gone through 
almost any game of base ball without signs. 

While on this subject the catcher should not overlook 
the fact that he should have a sign to inform the first- 
baseman that he is going to throw to him on the next 
pitched ball, to catch a runner napping. When the first 
baseman is on the bag, guarding it because a runner is 
there, he is supposed to be ready to take anything which 
may come from the catcher. Sometimes he is playing 
back and the catcher wishes to snap the ball to him. 
Then a sign is given. It is as often some spoken phrase 
as a sign of hand or arm. Many and many a spectator 
has heard one of the major league catchers shout, “heads 
up, heads up, and not been a bit wiser, taking it for 
granted that the catcher was only encouraging the players 
of his team. In reality the catcher told the first baseman 
to get on the bag quick, if the ball was not batted on the 
next pitch, as it was coming down his way in a hurry. 

Pitchers sometimes give the signs. 

There are times when the pitcher gives the signs. 
Some bench managers can reach the eye of the pitcher 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 67 

quicker than they can reach that of the catcher. The 
back of the catcher is turned toward the bench. The 
manager may have it in his head that he knows best 
what kind of a ball to pitch next and he has a way of 
communicating with the pitcher in a hurry. The latter, 
in that case, is supposed to tell the catcher what he is 
going to throw. 

This does not happen much in the base ball of the 
younger players. There is too much red tape to a game 
of that kind. So far as that goes, possibly it is better 
if boys play their game their own way rather than have 
their purpose changed by cdach or manager. The advice 
of both coach and manager is good, but when players 
actually get on the field they should learn to act for 
themselves. If they are brought up to “play ball with a 
crutch” they will be looking for the crutch all through 
their athletics. When emergency arises they will not be 
ready to meet it. Athletes who cannot face emergency 
are not going to get very far toward continued success. 

It is best for the pitcher not to give signs, because if 
he undertakes to handle the game there is pretty sure to 
be disagreement between him and the catcher, which will 
not win for the team. Of course, if the pitcher believes 
that it would be better not to deliver the ball in a certain 
way that has been called for, he may decline to do so 
by shaking his head or by giving indication in some other 
way of his unwillingness, but that can be easily expressed 
without a complicating system. 

In this connection it may be stated that pitching signs 
and pitching have been “boiled down” in big league base 
ball to such a consistency that some catchers have signs 
cnly for speed, a slow ball and a curve. 

68 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

As something unsual is likely to happen at any time 
in a game it is well to be prepared to take care of the 
situation. Once in a world series contest it was the opin¬ 
ion of the playe'rs of one of the teams that the opposing 
players had got the battery signs. “I’ve been watching 
them at bat,” said the catcher, “and they’re stepping 
into the good ones with too much confidence to suit me. 
They know when a curve is coming and they are laying 
for it.” 

“I’ll give the signs,” said the pitcher, “and see if that 
fools them.” So while the catcher was making a great 
show of giving signs to the pitcher during the remainder 
of the game, the pitcher was paying no attention to them 
but was telling the catcher what to expect. The best 
joke of all was that the signs of the pitcher were as 
wide open as could be, and if the other side had only the 
faintest idea of what was going on they might have 
“spotted” every ball that went up to the plate. I asked 
Christy Mathewson if the opposing team ever knew that 
he gave signs to his catcher for part of the game that 
day. “I don’t think they caught on,” Said he. “To tell 
the truth, I had almost forgotten the incident myself.” 
With a pitcher of experience like Mathewson, a manager 
would not worry greatly if the pitcher gave the signs 
instead of the catcher. If a pitcher lost a game under 
those conditions he could not hold anyone responsible 
for bad coaching. 

Getting back again to the use of the mitt in screening 
signs the beginner cannot help but note that the pitcher, 
if he were as expert in reading batters as the manager 
and catcher combined, would still be placed at a disad- 


Spalding’s Athletic Libra'ry 

vantage in giving signs, because he stands alone in almost 
the center of the diamond, where it is possible for the 
opposing players to note every motion or movement 
that he makes. On some of the professional teams the 
players are as keen and sharp as if they had been specially 
trained all of their lives to discern the little happenings 
in base ball. Ninety-nine men will observe that a player 
moves his arm a certain way and give it no further 
thought. The one hundredth man does give it thought, 
and after he has observed the player for a time, in order 
that he may satisfy himself whether he is right, he will 
go to his fellow players and tell them that whenever 
they can detect the catcher doing this, or that, to watch 
for a certain kind of pitched ball. In a professional 
game no doubt some have noted that the batter occa¬ 
sionally turns around very quickly and takes a peep at 
the catcher. He is trying to read the catcher’s sign if 
he can. He may take forty peeps, and not catch it, but 
on the very next time he may be more fortunate and 
possibly decipher the information that will help him to 
win a game. 

Signs from the infield. 

In the rarest of emergencies the second baseman and 
the third baseman have given signs to the pitcher, but 
that is something which the beginner need not take 
into consideration. When it has been done there was a 
reason for it. For instance, in the case of the second 
baseman acting as the signal maker, it was merely a 
matter of the manager directing the second baseman 
how to direct the pitcher. That is too roundabout. The 

70 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

reason for its employment was that the manager con¬ 
ceived the idea that, in signaling the second baseman he 
was also signaling to all of his fielders, and that the 
second baseman by giving the signs to the pitcher fooled 
the players of the other team, who were looking for the 
signs to be given by the catcher. 

Sometimes the second baseman was not looking. He 
had too much to do to be able to watch the manager every 
minute. Sometimes he did not get the sign right from 
the manager. ' It made the game too mechanical. The 
manager was trying to do the thinking for all of the 
players of his team. Before he got through he had all of 
them dependent upon him. They not only did not think 
for themselves, but for lack of cultivated initiative would 
not think for themselves. 

How the catcher should set himself to get a high foul when ha 
is sure that he is under the ball. 

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Other Methods of Giving Signs 

There are other ways of giving signs than by the hands 
and feet. Catchers have been known to touch their chest 
protectors in a certain part. Some rub their hands on 
one side of the chest protector for one kind of a pitch, 
and on the other side of the protector for another kind 
of pitch. Some use their caps as the medium for indi¬ 
cating their wishes to the pitcher. Some fuss with their 
belts. Some hold their hands on their knees, or on their 
hips, and some have gone so far as to employ the use 
of the mask in some way by holding it in the right hand 
or in the left hand, to give information to the pitcher. 

All kinds of possibilities are within effort if not all 
of them are within reason. The writer is not making 
any attempt to make public a set code, because it is 
manifest that if all teams used codes which were very 
similar the signs would not amount to anything. The 
beginner will be much better off if he thinks out his own 
signs, and then gives plenty of practise before he starts 
in the more important games of the year. Talk them 
over with the pitcher and try them with him until he 
knows them. Don’t continue to use a code of signs 
if you are fairly convinced that the opposing team has 
an inkling of what they mean. Better have no signs 
than to have signs that can be read on both sides of the 

I have already told beginners that the catcher gives 
the sign to the first baseman when he wishes the latter to 
run to the base to catch a runner napping, as there are 

74 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

times when the first baseman plays back. On the other 
hand, if the second baseman or the shortstop intends to 
run to second base to catch a runner napping, it is the 
business of the man who will make this play to signal 
to the catcher that he intends to cover the bag. That is 
a sign which the catcher doesn’t give but which he is 
expected to read. 

Thus you will see that the catcher not only makes 
signs but must be able to read them as well. Even if an 
infielder does give a sign that he is going to cover a base 
after the next pitched ball, providing the ball is not 
.batted, the catcher need not make the throw if he is 
satisfied that it would be foolish to take a chance. That 
play comes under the head of aimless throwing. The 
infielder has done his part in covering the base, but why 
throw the ball if the runner is so close to the base that 
no throw could hope to get him? A poor throw would 
surely put him on the next base and perhaps give him 
two bases and a run. 

The hit-and-run play. 

The catcher must do his share to try to catch the 
hit-and-run sign. If he can tell when the runner, or the 
batter, has given it, he will be in position to blight the 
hopes of the other team in a hurry. The hit-and-run 
sign is declared both ways. Sometimes the runner at 
first base, or even the runner at second base, gives it. 
Sometimes it is the batter who gives it. If the catcher 
can ascertain when it has been signaled he can fool both 
batter and runner by calling for a pitch-out. If a good 
thrower it will be an easy matter to get the runner at 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

the next base, while the batter is forced to stand impotent 
at the plate because the ball is pitched so far outside that 
he cannot reach it. 

When catcher can break up the “squeeze” play. 

The squeeze play at home plate is only a hit-and-run 
play in which the team at bat is willing to sacrifice a 
batter for the sake of a run. If the catcher can get the 
squeeze sign he can make the runner from third appear 
comical. There isn’t a chance to score if this play is fore¬ 
seen by the catcher, by the pitcher, or any player, for 
that matter. If the ball is thrown by the pitcher to the 
catcher so far outside home plate that the batter cannot 
reach it the runner is doomed. It has frequently been 
said, and with truth, that there is more credit to the 
players in producing a run on this play than there is to 
the manager in ordering it. 

The double steal. 

There is still another sign for the catcher to read. That 
is the sign which is given when there is to be a double 
steal. Almost without exception this sign is started from 
the coaching box. Usually the base-runner who is in 
advance flashes back to the person who has given the 
sign for a double steal that he understands and will be 
ready to start on the next pitched ball. The catcher 
may not get the sign to try a double steal, but he is some¬ 
times able to pick up the answering sign from the base- 
runner, or perhaps get a clue from both base-runners 
that they have been ordered to try a double steal. Never 
mind the back runner on a double steal. If any runner 

76 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

is dangerous it is the runner who is in advance, and he is 
the one who is to be put out, if possible. 

Occasions when coachers give the signs. 

The coacher at first base and occasionally at third 
base, may give the hit-and-run sign. In a coaching phrase 
there may be a “message” to runner and batter. To the 
runner it says that the batter will try to hit the next 
pitched ball, and to the batter it says “the manager wants 
you to hit the next pitched ball, because Smith, who is 
on first base, is going to try for second.” There is no 
alternative after the sign is given but to try the play. If 
the catcher has caught the sign, because of his quick 
discernment, and has ordered the ball pitched in such a 
manner that the batter cannot meet it, he has made it 
easy to throw to second base or to third base to get the 

If you pretend to give signs with your hands, and at 
the same time give all of the signs in some other way, 
either by talking, or by shifting your position, or by the 
touching of certain parts of your body, remember that 
it is legitimate to do so, and that the better you conceal 
the steady conversation which you are carrying on with 
the pitcher in unknown terms the better it is for your 
own team. 

Limit the signs. One for a fast ball. One for a slow 
ball. One for a curve ball. 

You will be surprised to find how much execution you 
can do with no other signs than only those three. 

Straight-from-the-shoulder motion. Used by only 
a few catchers. (Posed by William Killefer.) 

Forward body motion used in throwing to bases. 

(Posed by Robert W. Schallc.) 

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Spalding’s Athletic Library 


Blocking Base-Runners 

To block a base-runner is a play which is fraught 
with a large element of risk to leg, arm and body. The 
author would suggest to young players that they omit 
from their work anything which has to do with blocking 
base-runners. It is dangerous. It is likely to result in 
injury to both catcher and runner, or to one. There is no 
necessity for it and a large part of the blocking of base- 
runners is not legal. 

It is stated explicitly in the base ball rules that no 
fielder shall block a base-runner without the ball in his 
possession and the greater part of all blocking is done 
without the ball being in possession of the fielder. In a 
recent world series the catcher for one of the teams 
blocked a base-runner long before he had the ball in his 
possession. The manager of the opposing club called the 
attention of the umpire to the fact. The umpire did not 
rule against the catcher, although he would have been 
justified in doing so. It is presumed that as the play 
had been permitted to go pretty much unchecked through¬ 
out the year, and throughout other years, the umpire did 
not feel that he should take what appeared to him to be 
arbitrary measures at that time. 

It is quite true that a catcher should be fearless, but 
it is not essential that a catcher should play in such a 
manner that he jeopardizes the limbs of another player. 
The theory that it is right to cut off runs at the plate, 
or at bases, by deliberately blocking is a bad theory. 
There is just as good a way in which to retire a runner 

80 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

as there is to step in front of the base and shield it in 
such a manner that the runner cannot get to it. More 
than that, the baseman or the catcher has not the right 
to do that sort of thing unless he has the ball in hand. 

Runner should have a fair chance. 

The theory of base ball is that the base line belongs 
to the runner. It is not to be obstructed by a fielder 
who is not waiting for the ball, and if a fielder is waiting 
for a throw he must not interfere. If a fielder were 
to obstruct with deliberation a runner going from first 
base to second base, and the fielder did not have the 
ball in his hand, the umpire would give the runner 
second base. If he did not he would not be competent 
to umpire. The play is identical at home plate. No 
catcher has right on his side to set himself across the 
plate without the ball in his hand and wait for it to come 
to him with the runner knocking at the door to get in. 

A base-runner is likely to be sent to the hospital with 
a serious injury when that happens. The catcher has 
all the better of it with his pad-protected legs, so far as 
armor is concerned. It is mock heroics to talk about 
the catcher sacrificing anything. If the runner jumps 
at him maliciously, with evident intent to injure him, 
that is a. matter to be taken in another light. The umpire 
has authority to take care of the runner for interference. 
It is as much an interference against the runner to pre¬ 
vent him from sliding into home plate or second base if 
he can do so legitimately. 

What the catcher should do when he is guarding home 
plate is first to take a position away from home plate 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 81 

toward third base and not on the base line. He has no 
business directly over or upon the plate. The big, bulky 
catcher who stands astride of the plate violates the rules 
and often is outwitted because he is so clumsy of move¬ 
ment that a runner will slide around him. If the catcher 
is on the third base side of home plate he is on the side 
nearest to the base from which the runner is coming. 
If the catcher is back of the base line he knows that 
the runner will come in front of him, because to go 
behind him would add extra distance for the runner to 
cover and he would be touched out easier. Always try 
to play for the runner in front of you and not on the 
side only as is inevitable when the catcher must touch the 
runner on the catcher’s left. 

It is not certain that the throw home will be good. If 
the catcher is a little away from home plate and the base 
line, he is in better position to handle well a badly thrown 
ball than if he is standing or crouching over home plate. 

If the runner is of the type who comes in feet fore¬ 
most, the catcher who is not over home plate is better 
able by far to deal with him than the catcher who stands 
on home plate. The catcher can slide with the runner 
if necessary. The runner’s objective is home plate and 
the catcher’s objective is the runner. The catcher has 
the larger target of the two, a point never to be over¬ 
looked in a situation of this nature. 

How to catch the runner using the “hook” slide. 

If a base-runner is one of those agile men who can 
slide with a “hook,” as it is called—a twisting of the leg 
either inside or outside of the plate—the catcher who can 

82 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

play for him a little to the left of home plate will find 
that he always has a little advantage over the runner. 

Do not get the idea that base-runners must be willfully 
and deliberately blocked. Play for them on the side and 
do not be over-eager to risk a smashing collision with 
the runner’s feet “head on.” There is nothing in the 
spirit of base ball that calls in any way for a premedi¬ 
tated personal contact play with the willingness to let 
it end in injury—if original malice did not exist. 

Avoid blocking home plate deliberately. 

It is not good practise to block any base. It is against 
the rules of base ball to block a base without possession 
of the ball. The beginners should avoid standing astride 
of the plate, as in A, without the ball in hand. They 
should not set themselves in such a position and stand, 
waiting for the ball, while the runner is vainly trying to 
score. The position is dangerous, both to runner and to 
catcher. By far the best position to hold when base-run¬ 
ners are trying to score at home plate is to move toward 
the third base side of home plate, as illustrated in B, to 
touch the runner as he comes in. 

A—Incorrect position of. catcher B—Correct position for catcher to 
waiting for runner coming from touch a base-runner coming from, 

third base. third. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


Range of the Catcher’s Work 

Base ball is a team game. One position relies greatly 
upon another. That is why it is not always fair to 
“crack up” one position as better than another. Some 
players are better than others, but there is nothing unusual 
about that. One boy or man usually can do something 
a little better than another. Nature equipped him to do 
so. It would be a more open and surely less interesting 
game if there was one less outfielder. 

There is one fact which makes the catcher’s position 
stand out conspicuously. He has no assistance. He is 
the guardian of home plate, the sole fielder in his terri¬ 
tory, the receiver of the pitcher’s severe delivery, and, 
as he faces the field, the watchman for all of his team. 
He can see the incidents of the game to better advan¬ 
tage than the basemen and the outfielders. 

Attempt has been made to outline much of the mechani¬ 
cal work which is the share of the catcher, and now it 
is time to tell him that he must also be a good thinker. 
It is not to be expected that he shall know everything 
immediately about every batter who walks up to home 
plate. The professionals are not clever enough for that, 
and surely it is expecting too much of the catchers in 
ordinary games to know every detail about the batters 
who play against them. Such players do not always 
have leagues and they may play in twenty games during 
the season—more, no doubt—and never meet the same 
team twice. 

84 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

After a batter has been once at bat and the catcher 
for the first time has had an opportunity to look him 
over, it is within reason to believe that the catcher knows 
a little more about the batter than he did before the game 
began. For instance, if the batter hits a straight, fast 
ball with force, or for a long distance, it would not be 
the policy of common sense to pitch him another straight, 
fast ball next time that he came to the batter’s box. For 
that reason it never will hurt any young catcher, no 
matter whether he is in a league or out of one, to try, 
to get an inkling of what the batter can do with the 
variety of pitches that are thrown to him. 

The more that a catcher can prevent a batter from 
hitting successfully, by matching his wits against those 
of the batsman, the more valuable a catcher is to his team. 
There is another fact to be considered. The more suc¬ 
cessfully the catcher keeps runners off the base lines 
the less work he has to do. Every time that a batter 
reaches first base work accumulates for the catcher. 

Analyzing the style of the batter. 

The catcher should observe these points about a batter: 

1— Does he step “into”—that is, does he step forward 
to bat—the ball? 

2— Does he pull away—that is, does he step back— 
when he is about to strike at the ball? 

3— Does he swing flatfooted for a curved ball? 

A —Does he bat with a short reach, a forearm reach, 
or does he swing blindly with a long reach ? 

These points are quite enough for any young catcher 
to bother about. Now for the “medicine”: 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 85 

1— If the batter steps into the ball he is dangerous. 
Keep the ball close to him. 

2— If the batter pulls away from the ball, pitch the 
ball out. Use curve balls. 

3— If the batter does not get up on his toes, bats flat- 
footed, keep the ball out. 

A —If the batter is a forearm batter, have the pitcher 
pitch to him with all the skill that he has, and keep the ball 
close to him. If he is a long swinger give him curves, 
but always toward the handle of the bat, or “away out” 
on its tip end. 

It will be noticed that nothing has been said about 
noting whether the batter is a low ball hitter or a high 
ball hitter, and the reason for not saying anything about 
it is that most catchers are not dull in perceiving whether 
a batter likes a high ball or a low ball. Young catchers, 
as a rule, pick up that part of their base ball without 
any hint from any source. If they have the catching 
idea in their heads they are quick to discover what the 
batter likes, so far as elevation of the ball from the 
ground is concerned. 

When batters can place a ball. 

Even in the games of the youngsters there are batters 
who can place the ball. It is a gift to some boys. Right- 
handed batters, who were not more than fourteen years 
of age, have been seen to stand at the plate and place 
the ball in right field with as much precision as a pro¬ 
fessional. They merely turned a little in the batter’s box, 
used their forearms skillfully, and pushed the ball toward 
right field, and that is all that there is in placing a right 

86 Spalding s Athletic Library 

field hit by a right-hand batter. It is quite an accom¬ 
plishment, which is so much more to the credit of the boy. 

If the catcher believes that the batter intends to try 
to place the ball he must coach the pitcher in the best 
way that he can to prevent it. Keep the ball inside, if a 
right-hand batter is trying to place it in right field, and 
keep it on the extreme corners when a left-handed batter 
is trying to place it, unless the batter be one of those 
highly gifted individuals who can shift like a flash. In 
that case keep the ball at the most awkward angle for 
him that you can pitch it. 

Every batter has some weakness. 

If a catcher is to be the regular catcher for his college 
team, or if he intends to go into base ball for a short 
time as a professional or as a semi-professional—although 
one is much the same as the other—let him study his 
batters, especially if he is likely to meet them from 
day to day or from week to week. There are very few 
batters without one weakness. It may not disclose itself 
at first, but keep trying to ascertain it. Some day it 
will make itself manifest, and then the catcher is better 
off than the batter, because he is armed with a weapon 
which may be of assistance to him in a tight pinch. 

A good catcher will learn to start plays and to engineer 
plays for others on the ball field. A mechanical catcher, 
of which unfortunately there are far too many, never 
will do much, except to receive the ball and try to throw 
runners out, incidentally signaling his pitcher day after 
clay with a monotonous continuance of curve first, fast 
ball next, curve again, fast ball next, until the pitcher 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

almost knows without receiving a sign from behind the 
bat what he is expected to pitch. 

The catcher must keep the pitcher encouraged. There 
are no two positions on a ball team where there is more 
relation of personal interest. If the pitcher gets a little 
wild and the catcher shows by his impatience that he sees 
the pitcher losing his effectiveness, it would have been 
fully as well if the catcher had told everybody publicly 
that a change was needed. The pitcher can feel instinc¬ 
tively when the catcher is going with him and when he is 

Catcher should always encourage the pitcher. 

One of the best traits about the late “Buck” Ewing, 
of the original “Giants,” whose catching days were days 
that never will be forgotten in base ball, was his always 
apparent good fellowship for the pitcher and his constant 
words of encouragement. He gave his pitcher the impres¬ 
sion that the latter could not lose, and the further the 
pitcher went along with this impression the harder he 
was to bat. Tim Keefe and Smiling Mickey Welch, who 
were the mainstays in the box of the team, used to say 
that it was impossible to get upset when Ewing was behind 
the bat, because Ewing never let them think that they 
were in danger. No matter how ticklish the situation 
might be, some jovial word from Ewing relieved the 
tension under which they were working. 

On a professional team the catcher is under orders 
from the manager, but there are a great many plays that 
will come up in which the catcher must take the initiative 
without consulting the manager, and while the catcher 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

may be neither manager nor captain of his team, if he 
has thought plays out and has perfected himself in grasp¬ 
ing a situation instantaneously, he "will be surprised to 
know how much of a manager and captain he really is. 
A sensible manager will permit him to act independently 
when results are being produced. 

As an instance of a catcher initiating a play, presume 
that it is he who sees the sign passed for a stolen base 
or for the attempt to “squeeze” a run home-, as it is called, 
or gets the signal for the hit and run play. It is he who 
should take the game in hand at once and notify the 
pitcher what to do, and try to notify him in such a man¬ 
ner that no one will understand that the sign has been 
caught. If he should stop the game and go to the man¬ 
ager with the information that he had procured, or even 
give the impression by the manner in which he acted 
that he knew what was contemplated by the side at bat, 
the play would undoubtedly be stopped by the batter and 
runner and a valuable bit of information would go for 
nothing. The best of opportunities to prevent a run 
scoring, or a base from being made, would be missed 
because of the lack of permission to use individual effort. 

Spalding's Athletic Library 


Physical Condition 

The catcher must take care of his hands, his arm and 
his feet. 

Sore hands never will do. No pitcher can be success¬ 
fully caught when it is painful to the catcher almost 
every time that the ball comes into his hands, especially 
the bare hand. Do not catch with bruises or open cuts 
that entail wincing when the ball is received. 

The best asset that any catcher who is a good thrower 
has got is his arm. Do not throw for fun, or for speed, 
or for exhibition purposes. It is worth while to throw a 
little for practice. It is not worth while to show off. 
There are only about so many “throws” in each human 
being’s arm. Some day the muscles will not respond as 
they did once. They will contract for good and all and 
the catcher will be thfough. Whenever the arm is 
strained in boyhood it means that much power has been 
taken out of it. 

The feet are an essential part, because a catcher stands, 
crouches and hustles all through a ball game. The out¬ 
fielders move around a little. Now and then they have a 
very busy afternoon. More Tten they do not. The 
catcher is always busy. If his feet are in a condition 
which pain him the chances are that he will not be a 
very active man behind the bat. Mind the feet, therefore, 
as much as you do your arm and yeur hands. 

Eat reasonably. Do not gorge before a ball game. 
It is poor policy, so far as the stomach is concerned, 
and will leave one lethargic all the afternoon. Something 

90 Spalding s Athletic Library 

light is just as good as heavy food. If traveling or living 
in a hotel beware of the “course” luncheon. A few of 
those, with a few ball games after them in hot weather, 
and your catching will fall off so that you will wonder 
what ails you, while your friends will begin to think 
that you are deteriorating. 

Eat sparingly before a game. 

The foregoing instructions apply to boys as much as 
to professionals. A square*meal some little while after 
a ball game is fifty per cent better than a lot of eatables 
just before a ball game. Another thing, don’t forget that 
the square meal should be eaten a little while after a hall 
game. Never eat almost the moment that you have 
finished playing, and particularly observe this injunction 
in hot weather. A heavy meal, within twenty minutes 
after the conclusion of a ball game, on a July day, is 
like giving ice water to an overheated horse and then 
permitting him to stand still. 

Take plenty of rest. The better the hours the better 
the catcher. Do not remain up until midnight in order 
to be sure that something shall not escape you. The 
world is going on just the same. Thousands of things 
are happening all over it and what difference does it 
make to you what is happening that does not concern 
you personally? Rest is much better than gossip, and 
rest makes for good ball playing. 

Spalding's Athletic Library 


Origin of the Catcher’s Mask 

In the early days of base ball, including the period dur¬ 
ing which the rules of 1872 were in effect, the third strike 
was out on the first bound, and so was a foul hit made by 
the batter. The rule read in 1872: “When three strikes 
are called, and the ball be caught either before touching 
the ground or upon the first bound, the striker shall be 
declared out.” For that reason the catcher played a dis¬ 
tance back at some point in front of the catcher’s back¬ 
stop which seemed to be most convenient to catch the 
ball on the bound. 

As early as 1859 catchers had experimented in playing 
close to the batter, but they did not like the risk of being 
hit by a foul tip. It was as painful then as it would be 
now if there were no catcher’s mask, protector and mitt. 
The advantage of playing “close up” was often argued. 
Some favored it and others held against it, claiming that 
more put-outs could be made by standing back, because 
the catcher could get fouls on the first bound. Of course, 
we know better now, but in those days departures from 
custom were given thorough debate, as they are at 

Little by little the advocates of catching close to the 
batter won their way. They continued to experiment. 
After they had proved that the ball could be caught suc¬ 
cessfully close to the batter, they demonstrated that run¬ 
ners could be thrown out who were trying to steal bases, 
and that was the argument which won more and more 
catchers to the method of standing “close up.” 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

The next thing to do was to find protection for the 
catcher from foul tips. The mouth' and the teeth were 
considered to be more vulnerable points than the nose and 
eyes. So a piece of rubber was devised to be held between 
the teeth, the theory being that the rubber would absorb 
the shock of the ball if a foul tip should hit the catcher 
in the face. Sometimes when the boys could not get 
rubber, which was not as plentiful in those days as it is 
now, a lemon would be cut in halves and one half would 
be held between the teeth, the theory being that the half 
of the lemon would act as a buffer against the ball. 

Origin of Base Ball Mask. 

Ingenuity was being used even then to put together 
something which would be better than the piece of rub¬ 
ber. About the year 1876 Fred W. Thayer of Harvard 
began to experiment with a mask, taking his idea, as he 
says, from the fencing mask. He continued his efforts 
until in 1877 he had devised the first catcher’s mask, 
which was publicly used in that year by James Tyng, the 
Harvard catcher. Of course, there was a little reluc¬ 
tance first off to use it. Some of the oldtime catchers 
thought it babyish. Nevertheless its possibilities were 
so apparent that it was patented in 1878 and in no time 
had been generally adopted. 

It was a crude arrangement as compared with the 
present excellent masks which are made by A. G. Spald¬ 
ing & Bros., but it was hailed as making catching “behind 
the bat” not only possible but a fixture in the game. The 
modern mask, in addition to protecting the front of the 
face, protects the ears and the neck, and is made of such 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 93 

durable material and so cleverly padded that it success¬ 
fully wards off the terrific blows which would otherwise 
be delivered because of the swift pitching that is now in 
vogue. The speed of pitchers has more than doubled 
Yvith the evolution of the national game. 

In the beginning of base ball there was some attempt 
at originating uniforms on the part of the players. Long 
trousers were worn in the early times, but long trousers 
were a nuisance in trying to field hard-hit ground balls. 
Little by little the present style of uniform came into 
fashion and it surpasses any garment that has ever been 
modeled for a sport which demands the great athletic 
activity of base ball. There is no part of the garment in 
the way to embarrass the attempts of players to handle 
the ball. 

There is a wide choice of* material and range of prices 
for modern base ball uniforms, and the flannels from 
which Spalding uniforms are woven are of patterns spe¬ 
cially produced for the national game. They are tailored 
in a clean, sanitary factory and, in addition to having the 
wearing quality which makes for economy, are fashioned 
and put together by those who have had the widest range 
of experience in making base ball clothing. 

Neat uniforms have a visible effect on a player’s skill. 

Nothing makes a base ball nine look brighter and gives 
its players more self-respect and pride while on the field 
than a uniform which is of a neat and distinctive pattern. 
Provide a team with good equipment and an appearance 
of style which is attractive and be assured the players 
will put forth their best endeavor on the ball field. If 


Spalding s Athletic Library 

they are not well uniformed and another team against 
which they are playing is well uniformed, the players who 
are poorly equipped will feel that they have been slighted 
and their work will fall off with their mental dissatisfac¬ 
tion. Another point never to be forgotten is that uni¬ 
forms which are well made and correctly cut for their 
purpose are real helps to ball players. When uniforms 
are right it is easier to field grounders and to run for fly 

Not only has the mask been invented to help make base 
ball more attractive and the uniform been given specia\ 
attention for a similar purpose, but the base ball shoe has 
been improved until today the Spalding shoe is the most 
perfect of all for wear in base ball games. Shoes have a 

direct bearing on a player’s physical fitness#- 


Shoes have a direct bearing on a player’s physical 

The shoe is now considered to be the most important 
part of a base ball player’s outfit. No longer is “any old 
footwear” good for the ball player. The feet of his play¬ 
ers are a primary consideration with every manager. That 
fact has been so strongly impressed upon the ball player 
that he has learned the lesson for himself. A man in uni¬ 
form who limps is speedily asked by the manager for an 
■ explanation. If it is due to a bad shoe, or to a shoe im- 
i properly made, the player is asked to improve that con- 
f dition immediately. Players whose feet are not in the 
best of condition are not ready to run at their best or 
start at their best. Inability to run well and start well 
means a handicap to the team which is playing to win. 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

In almost every play on the ball field the player is a 
sprinter. When he runs bases, with the short intervals 
between them, he certainly is one. When he starts for 
ground hits and for fly hits he is one. He must always 
“be up and on his toes.” Sprinters select their shoes with 
as much care as they would select precious gems, and 
ball players must select their shoes in the same manner if 
they hope to remain in fast company. A ball player with 
poorly fitting, poorly patterned shoes literally has handi¬ 
capped his running. He needs every bit of his running 
ability to pull him through to success. If a bad shoe 
meant missing one or two grounders, or one or two fly 
hits every game because the player could not get over the 
ground properly, it is easy to see what a tremendous han¬ 
dicap the player would lay himself before starting in any 

How a badly fitting shoe may lose a championship. 

If there were two games at the end of a championship 
season between the pennant and the team which had fin¬ 
ished second, and the loss of those two games could be 
directly attributed to shoes which were unfit, what a feel¬ 
ing of regret would be held, not only by the player whose 
shoes might have been at fault but by the other players, 
because of the failure of their team. 

Spalding shoes are made in Spalding factories from the 
finest materials by workmen who specialize on base ball 
shoes. All of the Spalding shoe experts have the benefit 
of years of experience and direct information which they 
have received in person from players who wear nothing 
but Spalding shoes. The players have so clearly explained 


Spalding's Athletic Library 

and expressed personally the requirements for a good 
shoe that every Spalding shoe can literally be called a 
product o£ “first-hand information/’ It is proved on the 
diamond every season that Spalding shoes help to make 
good ball playing and good base ball players. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


Catcher’s Equipment 

The most important part of a catcher’s equipment is 
the mitt. It was devised as a convenience and it has 
become a necessity. It is as much a part of the game 
as the bat and the ball. In perfecting the mitt the work 
of the catcher was perfected. There is no invention, 
with the possible exception of the catcher’s mask, which 
has done so much for base ball since the beginning of 
the game. The mitt has accomplished even more than 
the mask, because it has made better players out of all 
kinds of catchers. The mask is solely for protection, 
while the mitt has been utilized to change the style of 
catching. It has given the catcher every confidence in 
his ability to hold the ball, no matter with what speed 
it may be delivered, and it has removed nearly all of the 
element of chance so far as he is concerned. Passed 
balls have become infrequent since the mitt has become 
more and more perfect. 

Mitts of all sizes and models are made by the firm of 
A. G. Spalding & Bros. They are manufactured with 
first-hand information which has been gained from the 
leading professional catchers of the United States, and 
are devised with thorough and practical knowledge as 
to the requirements of a good mitt. The evolution of the 
catcher’s mitt from the old-fashioned glove, some with 
fingers cut off half way, to the present modern-shaped 
and patterned defense for the hand, is one of the real 
advancements of base ball. 

Next to the mitt in necessity comes the catcher’s mask. 
Some say the mask made it possible for the catcher to 

98 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

“get up behind the bat,” and others that the innovation 
of the catcher going behind the bat brought forth the 
mask. Perhaps it was both. It is now the rule of the 
game for the catcher to stand up under the bat and the 
game is better for it, but he could not stapd there without 
the protection of the mask for his face. The A. G. Spald¬ 
ing & Bros, catchers’ masks include every style that can 
be sought. There are masks for all ages. They are of 
such special patterns and equipped with such special 
modifications as have been found necessary where there 
are so many differently shaped faces to fit, and so many 
different ideas to meet. 

A body protector was the next device to be found worth 
while for the catcher after the invention of the mask. 
Foul tips brought forth the idea of the body protector. 
A foul tip cannot be gauged. The ball meets the bat and 
shoots from it to the first objective at increased speed. 
The first objective is usually the catcher and utter inability 
to get out of the way of a foul tip brought forth the 
invention of the body protector. These are manufactured 
by A. G. Spalding & Bros, in shapes and styles best 
adapted to the use of players. 

The last invention for the catcher was the leg guard. 
Again the foul tip is responsible. Frequently the fouled 
ball is deflected to the feet and legs of the catcher. Its 
flight from bat to body is almost instantaneous and the 
force of its blow is unpleasant. A. G. Spalding & Bros, 
make leg guards of the latest and most suitable model 
which are adaptable to all catchers. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 



In professional base ball grounds the principal stand is 
built in such a way that it acts as backstop for the catcher. 

Where there are not enclosed grounds the backstop is 
located ninety feet back of home plate when there is room. 
It may be at a shorter distance, if desired, but in that 
case a ground rule will be in effect which gives the runner 
a base when there is a passed ball or a wild pitch which 
gets away from the catcher. 

The backstop on a ground which is laid out on public 
property or on an open field without stands may be made 
of plain boards, which are braced from behind and built 
to the height of at least ten feet. They should be strongly 
propped by posts fixed in the earth to prevent the wind 
from toppling the structure over. A backstop also may 
be built of chicken wire meshing stretched between posts 
of wood or metal. Wire is usually very desirable where 
there is much wind as it offers much less resistance. 

The Spalding batter’s cage used during practice by the 
leading professional teams, and which consists of a screen 
on wheels which can be stationed with ease behind home 
plate and removed when it is time to play. Its purpose is 
to assist the catcher during practice as wild pitches, foul 
balls and passed balls are easily checked by the barrier. 
Prior to the time when the catcher assumes his position 
the pitcher often pitches directly into the cage. He uses 
three or four balls and the batters pick up the balls and 
return them to him, if they have not been batted and 
after they have been stopped by the cage. 


Making a desperate slide to third under the very foot of the baseman. Snap¬ 
shot of Ty Cobb in actual game taking a base feet foremost and compelling 
Austin to give ground by the force of his slide. 









4 A 

:> .. ,?P %■ “ 



■i? m: mpp m 

p§ P^*iP! 




Fine judgment on the part of the base-runner, who throws his body completely away from the base- 
man so that only the toe of his shoe touches the base, leaving the smallest possible target to be 
touched by the baseman. This slide usually meets with success. Conlon, Photo. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 



Base-running is one of the qualifications of a good 
ball player and good ball playing, which receives small 
consideration in comparison with the importance that it 
plays in the game. It is a diverting quality of base ball. 
There is no reason why it should be slighted. Perhaps 
the fact that so little attention is paid to it is that the 
average ball player has his attention engrossed too deeply 
in making a good batting record or a good fielding record. 
He looks upon running as something which is to be 
classed as essential, but a task rather than a pleasure. 
In addition to that there is no doubt but that there are 
a great many players who are discouraged at the begin¬ 
ning, because they believe that nature did not endow them 
as freely as she might have done with speed. In other 
words, they are beaten before they begin. 

On the other hand, let us cite this view of the art of 
base-running. One afternoon, after a game had taken 
place in Pittsburgh, toward the close of the season, George 
Burns, the excellent left fielder of the New York National 
League Club, happened to meet the writer after the 
exciting contest in which he had scored three runs. 
“I guess I’ve got the record now,” said he. Perhaps no 
one had known, or had been conscious of the fact except 
himself that he was trying for a record. Naturally the 
first question put to him was: “What record?” “The 
record for the most runs during the season,” was the 
answer, “and I would not have made it had it not been 
for the number of bases that I have stolen.” 

104 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

Burns is the type of the conscientious ball player. All 
through the season of the National League he had been 
trying for the record of the most runs in the National 
League. He had not declared himself on the subject, but 
he had made up his mind that he would get that record, 
if possible, and so he had worked from the first game of 
the year until the game played in Pittsburgh to establish 
a lead. The Pittsburgh contest did not positively assure 
the lead at the end of the season, but he felt that he 
had done so well that he could be sanguine over the 
future. He did make the best record for scoring that 

The young ball player who is starting out to learn 
base ball, whether he has any intention to continue to 
play it professionally or not, should make up his mind 
that he will excel as much in base-running as he may 
try to excel in some other qualification. He should not 
say to himself, “Pooh, base-running is simply getting 
around the bases the best way that you can/’ because 
that is not base-running in its best essentials. It is merely 
moving to keep out of the way of the ball. Base-running 
combines study of the pitcher, the catcher and the other 
players—at the least it requires careful observation— 
and he is a very stupid player who will not observe. If 
not stupid, then let us say he is stubborn. 

Long hits of no value unless they score. 

Having in mind all of the time that it is runs which 
win in base ball, Burns made a sincere effort for his team 
to score runs. There was another player on the team 
whose great hobby was long distance hits. He had long 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

distance hits in his mind and discussed those to the exclu¬ 
sion of almost everything else. It is not the long dis¬ 
tance hitters who are invariably likely to stand up well 
in runs at the finish of a base ball campaign, but it is the 
heady, intelligent runners, who combine intelligence in 
running the bases with what skill they may have at the 

Generally speaking, base-running has two divisions. 
One is that of runners who run the bases well, handling 
themselves right on the turns—it makes much difference 
whether that is done well or not—and the other is that of 
studying plays and pitchers to get the best of every start 
from a base after the runner has reached first base. 

Why some players are successful. 

From the time that the runner leaves home plate, and 
he leaves it as a runner the moment that he ceases to be a 
batter, he should have it in his mind to make a run count 
for his team, if he can, and he should not be a dullard 
when, by the use of his brains, in co-operation with other 
runners and the batter who follows him, he may succeed 
in scoring. It doesn’t matter much if one gets to first 
base six times in a game if one never gets further than 
first base. It is the getting onward which is worth 
while, as well as the getting on. 

Were Ty Cobb a less skillful base-runner he would be 
a less skillful ball player. He is cited because he was 
always in the public eye as a player who combined base¬ 
running ability with other evidences of skill. Had Willie 
Keeler been a less skillful base-runner he would not 
have been the great ball player that he was. Speed, and 

106 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

its combination with rare base-running intelligence, made 
Max Carey a good ball player. It was the perception 
and the good judgment of Hans Wagner on the bases 
that made him a great ball player. Anson was a won¬ 
derful batter and always will be considered to be one of 
the best of the ball players of history, but think what 
he might have been had he been able to run bases with 
the skill and craftiness of Ewing and Kelly. 

Indifferent running a great handicap. 

It is taken for granted that runners will try to learn 
how to run in the right manner. You will note that the 
expression “taken for granted” was used, because runners 
do not always attempt to run in the right manner. Some 
are slothful and so indifferent that they do not make any 
effort to improve. If a player has no speed, like a bulky 
pitcher, for example, there is little hope for him, and a 
manager must sometimes shut his eyes to the fact and do 
the best that he can. It is true that a player of that 
disposition is likely to be a drag on a nine, and there have 
been instances where such a player has cost his team a 
victory, yet the manager must bear it on the theory that 
the player is so good at something else that his base¬ 
running, however bad of form it may be, will have to 
be taken as it stands. 

Even with that condition it is exasperating at times to 
see such a player go on year after year and not make the 
slightest attempt to better himself. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


Running Out Hits 

First of all the beginner in base ball should make up 
bis mind that he will never lag between home plate and 
first base. Ran every hit out } no matter where the ball 
goes. The surest infielder may make a fumble. The most 
accurate thrower may make a bad throw, and the only 
one in a game on the very ball that you hit. The best 
outfielder may drop a fly when the ball seems to be right 
in his hands. If the batter has failed in any one of 
these three instances to run at the top of his speed to 
first base his failure may be the play which will cost his 
team a victory. 

In recent years there has been a tendency on the part 
of a pitcher not to run the ball out if it appears there 
is no chance for him to get to first base ahead of it. 
The theory for this is that the effort is too great for the 
pitcher and that he will take the pitcher’s plate for the 
next inning—especially if it looks as if it may be the 
second hand or third hand out—so winded that he will 
not be able to pitch at his best. Whether the result 
brings out good for that theory is a question. Games 
have been lost by it. Games may have been won by it, 
but it would not be an easy task to cite them. The point 
is that the pitcher should be in such good condition 
physically that he can take a hard run as well as any 
other player of his team. 

There have been pitchers in the past who would never 
think of not trying to get to first base. Go back to the 
clay when John Montgomery Ward was a pitcher. Did 

108 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

any one ever see him not trying for first base? It is 
sure that running to first base did not end his career as 
a ball player, as long after he had ceased to pitch he was 
playing the infield and still trying, as conscientiously as 
he ever did in his life, to get to first base whenever he 
batted the ball. If there are nine players on the field 
to try to win the game the pitcher should be as fit and 
willing to attempt his share in those games as any other 
player of the team. 

Always run out your hit. 

To the younger players, who are to be the good ball 
players of the future, the admonition is ever forcible to 
play the ball out to the limit. There is no chance in 
base ball which should be slighted. It is exasperating 
to the spectators to see a batter not try for the base, and 
criticism finds its voice as quickly in amateur games 
as in professional contests, when this principle of the 
game is not fulfilled to its greatest degree. 

What would be thought of a base-runner who would 
stop half way between third and home and deliberately 
walk out to the field because he felt certain that he 
would be put out at home plate?. Now reverse this 
condition and ask what would be thought of a ball player 
who would turn from the base line half way between 
home plate and first base and go to the field because 
he thought that he would be out at first base, when the 
tieing run was coming home from third base. Suppose 
that the first baseman should drop the ball and it would 
be evident that the runner would have been safe at first 
had he continued. 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

That is not a usual instance nor is it an exaggerated 
instance, for that very thing has happened in profes¬ 
sional base ball, where we are supposed to see the very 
best of everything that is a part of the national game. 

Always run; nothing is certain in base ball. 

First base is the first objective after the ball becomes 
in play between some point on the field and first base. 
If it is a missed third strike, start for first base at top 
speed. If it is a grounder go for the base with an effort 
to make it. If it is a fly ball do not loiter down the base 
line watching to see whether the shortstop is going to 
catch it before you get there. First base must be touched 
before a run can be scored. Just the reverse, no run can 
be scored until first base is touched. 

The lamest of all excuses is that running to first base 
is too severe a task when the chance seems to be going 
against the player. If a member of a team goes to bat 
six times in a game he has gone more than the average. 
If the same player is not in good enough physical form 
to try to run to first base six times at his best speed, 
there is something wrong about his makeup as a ball 

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Spalding’s Athletic Library 

Much to Learn About Base-Running 

Presumably every ball player among the boys will say 
that running the bases—just plain running—is the easiest 
part of base ball, and many of them will think it a subject 
too trivial to waste time in talking about. It does look 
easy. Hit the ball and run. Even the ordinary players 
do that without instruction. The fat men, and the lean 
men, and the big boys, and the small boys run when they 
hit the ball, unless they are disobeying one of the funda¬ 
mentals of the game—running the hit out. I can hear 
some boy asking what more there is to do than run. 

There is this much more to do—run right. There are 
more ways than one to run around the bases. In the 
first place, learn to get a quick start from the plate. 
Some players have a tendency when they hit the ball to 
hesitate and watch where it is going. If there is anything 
in base ball which is downright foolishness that is it. 
What difference does it make where the ball goes? If it 
is foul no harm is done, and if it is safe no time is to be 
lost to reach first base. 

On the way to first base, if the runner is apt, he will 
learn in time to turn his head and get some idea of the 
direction taken by the ball. There is a coacher at first 
base who is presumed to have intelligence enough to be 
able to communicate to the runner whether he is to 
continue for second base. If he lacks that intelligence 
he should not be on the coaching line. 

Start when you feel the bat meeting the ball and keep 
on going the very best you know how. If you follow 

112 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

this rule all of your base ball career you will make a 
record which will be worth while, whether you are an 
amateur or a professional. There are professionals who 
have beaten themselves out of superfine batting records 
because they were bad starters. They got into a bad 
habit and could not . get out of it. Once let curiosity get 
the better of you so that it becomes a habit and you will 
lose by it, as you would by the development of any other 
habit which is detrimental. 

How to touch the bases when running on extra-base 

When you are started for first base make an effort to 
regulate your pace £o that you will round, or pivot, the 
base on the right foot. You will gain enough by that 
to make up many a mile before you have finished with 
ball playing. 

Try the experiment for yourself. 

Does such a statement seem to be an exaggeration ? 
Then it is suggested that you demonstrate for yourself. 

Run to first base and turn on the left foot. Did you 
see to where it took you? You were away behind the 
base, because that was the only way on which you could 
touch it, and turn the bag on.your left foot. 

Now run to first base and pivot on the left foot but 
turn on the right foot. Instead of being behind the 
base you are in front of it. That means you have cut 
off a corner of so much magnitude that if all those 
corners happened to be stretched out, you might find 
yourself looking over a straightaway course which you 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 113 

never would believe you had run if it had not been 
demonstrated in front of your eyes. 

It is important to “pivot” correctly. 

Pivoting on the left foot and touching with the right 
means that you are taking the short cut of the diamond 
and still have touched all bases properly. 

Pivoting on the right fool means that you are going 
the long way of the base paths. In other words, if you 
pivot on the left and turn on the right foot you are run¬ 
ning on the inside of the track, and if you pivot on the 
right foot you are running too far and on the outside of 
the track. You know that on a circular track the outside 
is the longest distance to run. Every runner—except 
in sprints in which lanes are marked off—tries to get 
close to the inside edge of the track. That is what the 
ball player should try to do when he is running bases. 

Necessity for a slide often saved by intelligent base¬ 

A base-runner who is going from first to third base 
when trying for a long hit, runs on a curve of which the 
center is about the center of the infield. If he touches 
the inside point of each base he will run on a curve about 
4 feet 6 inches shorter than he would run if he touched 
the outside edge of each base. There is also a difference 
in running from home plate to first base, and in running 
from third base to home plate, so that the base-runner 
who touches the inner edges of the bases and pivots cor¬ 
rectly on the right foot is likely to gain not less than six 
feet over the runner who touches the outside edges. A 

1 14 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

slide of six feet to any base is a fairly long slide. It will 
be seen that correct base-running on the inside fre¬ 
quently will save a slide. 

A diamond is four cornered, but a great deal of the 
running on a diamond takes place as if there were a nearly 
circular track. This is true when the batter raps the ball 
for a long distance hit. If he ran on a straight line to 
first base, checked himself' and took another straight 
line to second base, and repeated the same thing at second 
base and at third base, he probably would not get around 
the diamond in advance of the ball which was being 
fielded in. The only safe long distance hit which he 
could make would be one over the fence. When running 
to first base, and when running for extra bases, assume 
your natural stride. If you can improve your natural 
stride by practise, so much the better. To try to step 
too far is as bad as to mince steps to try to shorten dis¬ 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


With the Runner on First Base 

The runner on first base is of more importance most 
of the time than the runner on any other base. It may 
not. look that way offhand because the runner at third 
base is much nearer home, but it is true nevertheless 
that the runner at first is the most bothersome of runners. 
To begin with, more players arrive at first base than arrive 
at any other base. They keep the pitcher in a ferment 
all of the time, because he does not wish them to advance 
further, and he must use all his craft against the batter 
as well as against the runner to see that they do not 
advance further, if he can prevent it. The pitcher begins 
to wonder whether the runner will try to steal second 
or whether the runner will wait for the batter to advance 
him. If he is a good base stealer the pitcher will not 
dare to give him a lead, providing the pitcher is good at 
watching bases. 

Not all of the presumably good pitchers are worth 
much when it comes to watching bases. Some of them 
are too slow in motion to catch five base-runners during 
a season, and some of them do not make the slightest 
effort to improve in what should be one of the principal 
qualifications for authority to pitch. 

Pitcher and catcher should try to catch hit-and-run sign. 

Both pitcher and catcher are bound to try to catch a 
hit-and-run sign. If the runner at first is not a good 
starter, and known to be a little slow, they will figure 

116 Spalding's Athletic Library 


that a hit-and-run play will be tried in preference to 
anything else. That is good logic. 

Getting a lead off the base. 

If it is not a hit-and-run play the chances are that the 
batter will try for a safe hit, or wait for a base on balls 
if he can worry the pitcher long enough. Knowing this, 
the runner should take a little action on his own account. 
He should try to find out whether the shortstop or the 
second baseman will take the throw at second if the 
play is made there against him. The best way to find this 
out is to make a pretense of stealing. Not every runner 
•can take a lead from first base, and right there begins 
the weakness of modern base-running, because so many 
runners will not try to learn how to take a good lead 
from first base. 

The time to make a bluff to ascertain what the catcher 
and the basemen have in mind is when the pitcher 
•delivers the ball. It is a pretty poor bluff when a runner 
leaves first base while the pitcher is standing in his 
position with the ball in his hand. The runner should 
let the pitcher start his delivery, and then leave the base 
and run a few steps toward second. The man who is to 
take the ball at second almost unconsciously will start 
lor the base. The only thing which is likely to prevent 
him is the possibility of the batter hitting the ball. If 
he bats it, the infielder will be distracted from covering 
second base, unless the play is to be made to him for a 

It is to be presumed that the batter is taking note of 
what the runner is trying to do. Otherwise all the good 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

effort of the runner will have gone to waste. Suppose 
we take it for granted that the runner is sure the second 
baseman will cover second base, because the batter is a 
right-hand hitter. The runner signals that he will go to 
second on the next pitched ball. He must get an answer¬ 
ing signal from the batter. The runner is off with a 
dash the moment the ball leaves the pitcher’s hands, but 
he must not be in too much of a hurry or the pitcher 
will catch him napping. The batter then makes every 
effort to push the ball to right field or to bat it with 
force to right field, if he has acquired that much skill. 
At the least he can try to bunt it toward first base. 

When the hit-and-run play is used. 

Whatever he does, he must accomplish something that 
is going to help the runner. This is known as the hit- 
and-run play, and if it should so happen that the batter 
can get nothing out of it except a bunt which makes the 
runner sure of second base it is the sacrifice play. Some 
managers use the sacrifice play to excess. Some do not 
use it enough. 

If there is a left-hand pitcher in the box the base- 
runner should never take undue liberty. Remember that 
the pitcher who throws with his left hand is able to face 
first base most of the time. There is not a move to be 
made by the runner which the pitcher does not see. With 
a left-hand pitcher at work the runner should be con¬ 
servative and depend more upon assistance from the 
battery, especially if he knows the pitcher to be a player 
who is able to get the ball over to first base with a snap 
that is quicker by far than any throw which can be made 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

by a right-hand pitcher. Never lead too far away against 
a left-hand pitcher. Even the slowest of them have an 
advantage by the use of a shorter throw than a right- 
hand pitcher. 

Keep in action all the time. 

On the other hand, if you are quick and clever afoot 
keep in motion around first base all of the time. In the 
first place the baseman will never be sure that you are 
not going to start, and that will keep him hugging the 
base. The pitcher will not know whether you are bluffing 
or really on your toes for a start, and so long as you 
can keep him guessing you will prevent him from getting 
set well where he can pitch with more effectiveness to 
the batter. Running up and down may get the crowd a 
little excited, because the pitcher keeps throwing the 
ball over to first base to catch you, but you are right 
and the pitcher is right. 

Rounding a base, especially first base. 

Runners should make all 
effort when rounding bases 
after making hits for extra 
bases to touch the base with 
the right foot, A, and pivot 
on the next step on the left 
foot, B, which is shown by 
the outline, C, as being 
turned outward to carry the 
runner in the line of the 
following base. The reason 



Spalding’s Athletic Library 

for pivoting on the left foot is that distance is short¬ 
ened several feet in circling the bases. If the right 
foot is used as the pivot foot the runner is taken at 
least one step, and possibly two steps, out of his way, 
and may lose an extra base which he would have 
made had he used the proper foot for a pivot. 

Don’t bother much about the crowd. It hasn’t any mercy 
if' you are wrong and forgets quickly when you are right. 
In fact, it reverses it own judgment with sixty seconds’ 
notice and with the utmost unconcern. 

You must study pitchers and know something of their 
peculiarities before you risk too much. There are pitchers 
against whom it is dangerous to move, and there are 
others who do not have the knack of getting the ball over 
to first base, because they cannot throw quickly and 
because they cannot throw accurately. The latter are 
the worse off, as they are afraid to take a chance, being 
aware of their own weakness. 

Keep your eye on the ball. 

Whenever you are sure that the pitcher has delivered 
the, ball run along the line toward second base. Do not 
run imprudently far, as that is not good base ball, but 
run a little. Be in motion always when the batter hits 
the ball. It may crowd the fielder who is trying to handle 
it, and the latter will be forced to throw hurriedly and 
perhaps poorly, but the outcome of the game will be 
changed, which would not have happened if you had been 
standing flatfooted at first base. 



4 > 









Spalding’s Athletic Library 


Sliding to Bases 

Second base is next in order after a runner has made 
first base, but the question before the runner is how to 
get to second base when the play is close. Nowadays, 
so little time elapses between one play and the next that 
the wise runner has mentally sketched what he will try 
to do before the play has begun. When the term “men¬ 
tally sketched” is used it means that the player has 
thought out what would seem to be the best thing to do 
under certain conditions. 

If the batter hits the ball in fair territory and it is not 
a fly ball which is likely to be easily caught, it is fairly 
safe to say the runner on first base may have to make 
a slide for the next bag. Suppose that he does have to 
slide, how shall he go? Shall it be feet foremost or 
head foremost? 

The head foremost slide may be said to be a back 
number. It is used now and then, but there is so much 
danger of hurt as compared with the feet foremost slide 
that, in the general opinion of coaches, it should not be 
used unless the runner is a very expert ball player, and 
even then there is much risk. The base-runner who 
slides head foremost instinctively throws his arms in front 
of him, and he is quite as apt to have his arms or his 
hands injured as he is to have his head injured. No real 
ball player wishes to have either injured. 

Sliding to bases is as near personal risk of injury as 
any play in base ball. This might as well be accepted 
as trying to deny it. To catch and to bat a ball are purely 

122 Spaldings Athletic Library 

mechanical in their way, but to slide to a base and at the 
same time to attempt to get away from the ball as the 
baseman reaches with it in hand to touch you and yet 
keep in contact with the base, is almost an acrobatic feat. 

Many extra bases are gained by sliding. 

Even the long-distance hitters do not overlook the 
importance of the slide, because many an extra base is 
gained by ability to slide. Ball players with much weight 
—and some of them are much too heavy—hesitate to 
slide. Now and then one will make a conscientious effort 
to steal a base, but, on the whole, they are drags upon 
the run scoring machinery of their teams. The impor¬ 
tance of runs is too apparent to dwell upon the subject. 

This criticism seems to apply more particularly to the 
heavy men of today. There were heavy ball players 
more than a quarter of a century ago who had speed and 
who had base stealing ability. They were as nimble at 
getting into second base without being touched as many 
of the players who professed to be more agile and weigh 
less. For some reason or another, very likely self-pres¬ 
ervation, players now are none too keen to take the 
chances of base-running if they can avoid doing so. Even 
those who are physically constituted to make good base- 
runners will not try to slide to bases if they can avoid it. 

Fair play should be the spirit of base-running. 

Sliding to bases feet foremost is not done to give the 
baseman cause to respect you. Because the feet fore¬ 
most slide is more favored the player must not assume 
that it is favored because of any lurking menace that it 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 123 

may possess. Base-running is not sound when it is under¬ 
taken for the purpose of intimidating a baseman. Real 
base-running is an essential to scientific scoring. 

The runner who goes to second base has the ball com¬ 
ing from behind him if the play is made by the catcher, 
or even by the third baseman. As a rule he gets his one 
idea from whence the ball is coming by means of the 
attitude which is assumed by the baseman. If the base- 
man is playing high the chances are that the throw is high 
and the feet foremost slide is just the thing. When the 
player throws his leg out to try to make the slide he 
should not double it beneath him, nor should he make a 
lunge at the base. Neither of these is good sliding. 
Push the leg which is bearing the brunt of the slide into 
the bag and throw the body around to one side so that 
it will be difficult for the baseman to touch the runner 
anywhere except on the foot or the lower part of the leg 
that is aimed at the base. That is called the “hook” slide, 
as the front part of the foot is used to hook into the yield¬ 
ing base bag and the latter used as a pivot in the swing. 
The “hook” slide is by far the best method of eluding 
a baseman who is waiting with the ball. 

Practise continuously; awkwardness may lead to 

Do not forget the injunction not to double the leg 
beneath you. Awkwardness in that respect produces 
the injuries of which we read occasionally when sliding 
is attempted. Dig a pit of soft sand and practise sliding 
in that. Keep at it until you can really slide along on one 
leg. Sliding in base ball means exactly what it says, in 

124 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

spite of the fact that so many have been taught to believe 
that a slide is a dive for the base, a jump for the base, 
or a clumsy half roll of the body. 

If the runner should be quite positive before he gets 
to the base that the baseman is certain to have the ball 
in hand in a fixed position to try to make the putout, it 
is within the province of the runner to try to elude him 
and prevent him from doing so, as it would be his right 
in a similar play standing up. This must be done by 
learning to throw the upper part of the body away from 
the ball. Time cannot be lost in making any play in base 
sliding. Whatever is done must be done in the fraction 
of a second. If not, the runner will find himself going 
head on, standing up, perhaps, and bumping into the 
baseman, who will touch him with ease and possibly 
make a double play, which will be just that much worse 
for the side at bat. 

There is not enough difference in sliding to third base 
or sliding home, to give a different direction or sugges¬ 
tion. Sliding is an art which can be tried on any base, 
and is also an art which must be learned if a ball player 
desires to stand up well when a general accounting is 
made at the end of the year. 

Keep your temper always under control. 

One thing more. Sliding feet foremost has been sug¬ 
gested as being more advisable than sliding head fore¬ 
most, because the runner is less liable to personal injury. 
The runner should remember that being less liable to 
personal injury himself he should refrain absolutely from 
any effort to frighten the baseman by lunging at him. 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

Deliberate spiking is a cowardly trick. Any injury to 
another, even in the heat of excitement, shows a mean 
and unnatural disposition. Control of temper is one of 
the fine lessons that base ball teaches and one who can 
control his temper has started on a successful career in 
life. We all like the good will and esteem of our fellow 
men. Base ball never was meant to be a game of intimi¬ 
dation. It is possible to slide to any base without injuring 
a baseman, and a runner should make all effort to bring 
about that method of sliding. 

What boy or man has any respect for the sneaking, 
cowardly person who, if he cannot win by open, legiti¬ 
mate methods, resorts to underhand devices to help him. 
The English have a saying when speaking of unfair 
methods: “It isn’t cricket.” We can adapt the same 
expression and when we see an unfair play say: “It 
isn’t base ball.” 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


With Runners on Second and 
Third Bases 

Twenty attempts will be made to steal second base 
where one will be made to steal third, and yet there is a 
very fair percentage in favpr of stealing third as com¬ 
pared with stealing second. One reason why fewer 
attempts are made to steal third is that the runner having 
arrived safely at second is fearful of taking too much 
risk and losing a possible run by being thrown out at 

There are some managers who have contended that it 
is easier to steal third than it is to steal second. .Under 
some conditions that may be true, but do not forget that 
the catcher has only to throw the ball 90 feet to have it 
get to third base, against the 127 feet that are necessary 
for a throw across the diamond. With a difference of 
almost 40 feet in favor of the catcher, and not overlook¬ 
ing the fact that the ball travels at a faster speed than 
the runner, it is sure there will be no odds in favor of the 
runner, so far as the throw to third is concerned. 

The runner at second base is presumed always to be 
ready to start for third. If the ball is batted in such a 
way that he can score he must be on his toes, as it would 
be suicidal to his team if he failed to get home when a 
safe hit was batted to the outfield where not one chance 
in fifty would ever get the runner at home plate. The 
runner at second is also supposed to follow the ball 
every moment so that he shall be able to have a lead if 

128 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

there is a wild pitch or a passed ball. With only one out, 
if the runner can get from second to third, he will be in 
position to score on a long fly to the outfield, and that 
may be the winning or the tieing run. 

Suppose it does not appear as the winning or tieing run 
at the moment, how brief a time may elapse before it 
will become the winning or the tieing run as the total of 
runs is whittled down, tightening up the score. 

When conditions favor runner. 

The best combination at second in favor of the runner 
is speed on his part and a pitcher with a slow delivery. 
A left-hand pitcher always is somewhat embarrassed 
when a runner gets on second. The left-hander has all 
the better of it when the runner is on first, but conditions 
are reversed when the runner is on the next base. If the 
pitcher is slow in turning or not over keen in perception, 
a good runner at second can keep him so worried that it 
may affect his pitching, and that is as good for the team 
on the inside as it might be if the runner were able to 
•steal third base without the ghost of a chance to get him. 

Now and then there is a runner who is smart enough 
to jockey back and forth between second and third until 
he has drawn a throw from the catcher at the wrong 
time for the catcher. The runner may bolt for third 
base, and often make the play. If the catcher can be 
induced to throw when the runner is fairly well up the 
line, or when the runner is ready to pivot and turn 
toward third base, there is a good chance to succeed in 
this play. On the other hand, if the catcher gets the 
runner flatfooted, or even goes after him from a throwing 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 129 

position inside the diamond, it is more probable that the 
runner will pay for his foolhardiness by being put out. 

When the runner has reached third base he has ful¬ 
filled his part of the task and should wait for the batter 
to drive him home. Now and then it is possible to steal 
home. Of course, it is a play which carries with it 
plenty of hurrah from the gallery, but there are very 
few times when it is good. Those who attempt it heed¬ 
lessly have heroics on the brain, or else they lack a good 
brain balance, without which it is impossible to play base 
ball judiciously and to win. 

“Bone” plays inexcusable. 

The runner who jeopardizes the chances of his team 
by foolishly taking hazards at third base, is not a good 
ball player. There is nothing more deserving of sound 
criticism than being caught off third base or being caught 
asleep at third base, by not being observant of the play. 
Keep your eye on the ball. 

Let well enough alone at third base. That is to say, 
let the batter do the best he can. If a run cannot be 
scored by reason of good batting the chances are 99 to 1 
that one cannot be scored in any other way. 

If base-runners can draw wild throws by clever shift¬ 
ing around the bases it is wise to do so. It is a sign of 
good base ball to note a young player apparently leading 
off with carelessness until you analyze his motions. Then 
you may observe there is no carelessness about it but 
method. He played to catch the catcher, or one of the 
infielders napping. In order words, played to get a wild 

Awkward attempt to slide, which shows lack of practise and is 
dangerous to the runner, one leg being doubled, while the other 
is out of position. Photo N. Y. Daily News. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


Faults of the Novice 

Among younger players there is ever a tendency to 
throw the ball too much and too often. The pitcher 
wishes to throw to the bases and the catcher thinks that 
every player who moves a foot should be frightened 
back by a throw to a base. If you have the good fortune 
to be able to see professional teams play notice how very 
seldom the catcher throws the ball to second base. Some¬ 
times he will stand still and permit a runner to go delib¬ 
erately along his way, realizing that he has a very poor 
chance to get him, and that if he makes a wild throw 
the runner will surely go to third base or may even go 
home, and that if the man who covers second base makes 
a misplay on the ball the same thing will happen. The 
catcher reasons—and correctly—‘‘The chances are too 
great against putting the man out, so why be foolish V* 
That is good base ball, and that is the kind of play that 
the novice will find he must learn if he expects to get up 
in the world of base ball, whether it is his college team 
or the big league arena. 

When player is caught in a run-up. 

If a player is caught in a run-up—that is, in a trap 
between bases—the thing to do is to make it as hard as 
possible for the other side to put him out. Very seldom 
is it the case that a runner gets out of a run-up. Now 
and then it happens, but as a play it is about as much 
against a base-runner as anything can be. For that 
reason, when you are in a run-up remember that you are 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

probably going to lose out, but that you must keep the 
other side busy as long as possible with the hope that the 
unexpected may happen. In the meantime keep an eye 
on the following runner in your team, if there is one on 
base. It is his business to move in as closely as possible 
to you so that he shall occupy the base that you had 
occupied prior to the time that the run-up began. If you 
can keep from being touched out until you have done 
that much for your side you have played good base ball. 
It is poor base-running when you lose out in a run-up 
and are touched so closely to the base you occupied that 
your club member behind you can not make the base 
and is placed in danger of being put out before he can 
get back to his own base. 

With two runners touching the same base. 

In the accompanying dia¬ 
gram A represents the run¬ 
ner who was originally on a 
base, usually second base or 
third base, as the play hap¬ 
pens very rarely at first base. 
B represents the player who 
has advanced from a preced¬ 
ing base and is touching the 
base at the same time as it is 



touched by A. Young players are confused as to which 
of the players should be touched out by the ball when it 
is possible to make a play, and neither runner has been 
forced from his base by the batsman becoming a base- 
runner. B is the runner to be touched out by the ball. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 133 

The base always belongs to the runner who originally 
held it, if he has not been forced from it, and he cannot 
be forced if the runner at the following base has not been 
forced himself. If the fielder should touch A he would 
not be out and B would have the right to retrace his way 
to the base that he had held. By touching B he' prevents 
that runner from going back to the base originally held, 
to which he has forfeited his right. If A should fool¬ 
ishly step off the base he could be touched out, and if B 
at the same time should step from the base he, too, could 
be put out and a double play would follow. If both are 
touching the base, as the diagram makes plain, and both 
are touched by the ball, A is safe and B is out. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


Keep Your Wits About You 

There is nothing in base ball which calls for better 
presence of mind than trying ter steal bases and running 
bases. So little time is given to judge of a situation 
that instantaneous action is necessary on the part of the 
base-runner. His is a question of “hurry up” all of the 
time. He must have daring and he must take certain 
risks—not foolish risks that endanger the success of his 
team, but the intelligent use of opportunities. We hear 
of players who are always taking chances and “getting 
away with it.” If you note carefully the alleged chances 
that he takes it will be ascertained that type of player is a 
“thinking” player. He has studied his opponents, has 
made his plans and is ready to take advantage of the 
slightest opening. 

The base that is stolen in a midsummer game may 
actually have been stolen weeks before. A similar circum¬ 
stance may have occurred in a game in which this par¬ 
ticular base-runner was not even playing. Being accus¬ 
tomed to using his brain, he figured out what he would 
do under similar conditions and applied his theory when 
the occasion arose. The old saying, “When one door 
shuts another opens,” may well be applied to base ball. 
It is the slow footed who follow the routine ^nd are 
helpless when their plans are crossed. The mentally 
alert player can switch his combinations in an instant. 
It is not superior mental ability either that is responsible, 
but a daily drill in his own mind of what he should do 
under varying conditions that earns for him the reputa- 

136 Spalding's Athletic Library 

tion of being quick-witted. Every ball player should con¬ 
tinually Think , Think, THINK. 

Base runner by holding base prevented double play. 

One important play that calls for quick thinking is 
best illustrated by an incident that occurred in a world 

A runner was on first, when the batsman hit a grounder 
to the second baseman who was playing almost half 
way between second base and first base. The second 
baseman threw to the first baseman, who while standing 
on the base, touched the base-runner who had not made 
any attempt to go to second despite the oncoming runner 
who had just hit the ball. Many of the spectators, and 
even the nrst baseman, who was comparatively new, as¬ 
sumed that a double play had occurred and were 
astounded when the umpire called the base-runner safe 
who had held his base, the runner to first being the only 
one to be called out. 

To obtain a double play the procedure should have been 
as follows: The first baseman should have stepped off 
the base to receive the ball. Then he should have touched 
the runner, no matter where he stood, on the base or off, 
the first baseman still keeping his feet away from the 
base. That being done, the first baseman by touching the 
base before the batter arrived there would have com- 
pleted a double play. When he touched the base before 
touching the runner who was to go to second he ended 
the force play. With the batter out, the runner who 
was on first base originally was entitled to remain there. 

Effort has been made to impress upon the reader that 
although fast running is an accessory to base-running, it 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

is by no means all of it. One could go back over the 
records of the past and cite dozens of instances of ball 
players who were not particularly fast runners but who 
were most excellent base-runner's. The present era is 
not developing as good base-runners as a few years ago. 
There is one reason why this subject of base-runnjng has 
been introduced in this book. It is hoped that its dis¬ 
cussion has been instructive and an inspiration. Base¬ 
running is needed to enliven a style of play which is 
becoming monotonous because of too much mechanical 

The base-runner must think for himself. To think 
well he must combine coolness, good judgment and 
headwork—plenty of the latter. It is always advisable 
to know when to start in base-running and the best way 
to know when to leave first base independently is to keep 
a careful eye on the pitcher. Of course, in saying this it 
is realized that the boy and the youth cannot give the 
pitcher the same study which is given by the professional, 
but if the novice will take careful notice of the pitcher 
opposed to him he will discover some little peculiarity 
which asserts itself when the pitcher is about to deliver 
the ball. When he has learned that much he has learned 
his first and most important lesson in base-running so far 
as that pitcher is concerned. From then he will never 
fear any pitcher. 

When a base-runner may take chances. 

To elude the catcher is possible. There is one prin¬ 
cipal difference in catchers and only one. That is in 
the speed with which they can throw and the directness. 

138 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

Some catchers are less observing than others and less 
to be feared on that account. If a catcher is known to 
be a poor thrower take a start on him. That is where 
the base-runner has the advantage if he has acquired 
information by observation. 

If the pitcher has a long windup before he can deliver 
the ball to the batter take advantage of it. If the catcher 
is erratic you will not fear him much. Those are two 
things which your wits should tell you. In other words,, 
it is as essential to think while running bases as it is 
while you are playing in the field. On the whole perhaps 
there is nothing which asks you to think more in base 
ball than base-running. 

Be daring always, but never foolish. 

We do not fine unorganized ball players in sums of 
money, but we can look at them reprovingly. They need 
a good, long reproachful look whenever any one of them 
fails to run out a hit, starts slowly from any base, unless 
it be for strategical reasons, run blindly into a run-up 
without giving his partner a chance, and makes some 
utterly inexcusable effort to steal a base when he has 
not one chance in fifty to get to it. Worst of all is the 
effort to steal home merely as a “grand stand play,” for 
the very best work of a team may be sacrificed by an 
egotistical player. Nothing is sure in the fielding of a 
batted ball, so be ready at all times when you are on 
the bases to get away on your toes. Don’t be caught 
flat-footed. It makes you feel so miserably that you 
wish to hide from the spectators, and they are more 
inclined to criticise that one particular blunder on the 
bases than they are some others. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 139 

Take excellent care of your feet, and whatever you 
do be sure if you are playing in base ball shoes that 
they fit. More than that, if you can afford base ball 
shoes get them. It is a positive joy to play base ball in 
the regulation shoes, and you can run bases better in 
them, too. 

Use a sliding pad. 

In order to protect base-runners the Fox Sliding Pad, 
made by A. G. Spalding & Bros., from a design by W. H. 
Fox, will be found most excellent. Mr. Fox, who is 
director of municipal athletics in the public parks of Min¬ 
neapolis, has had long experience both as player and man¬ 
ager and is therefore familiar with the correct require¬ 
ments. They are a splendid guard for the fleshy portion 
of the thigh and hip, which they defend against the grit 
and sand of the base paths. They are used by profes¬ 
sional players, who find them the best of inventions to 
prevent abrasions of the skin and bruises. 

HO Spalding's Athletic Library 

The Delayed Steal 

The expression “delayed steal,” which is used to at- 
scribe one kind of stolen base, refers to a base which is 
stolen while the ball is in play between the catcher and 
the pitcher and not while it is in play between the pitcher 
and the catcher. Most stolen bases are undertaken when 
the pitcher delivers the ball to the batter. The runner 
who is on first or second or third base, as the case may 
be, attempts to get his start while the pitcher is winding 
up for delivery and to steal the base between the time 
that the pitcher delivers the ball and it is received by the 
catcher, followed by the catcher’s throw to a baseman. 

When a delayed steal is undertaken it is when the ball 
is in the hands of the catcher who may be slow in han¬ 
dling it or caught off his guard in returning it to the 
pitcher, taking so much time to get the ball back to the 
pitcher that the runner, alert and ready for the situa¬ 
tion, darts for the next base when the ball leaves the 
catcher’s hands. 

After the catcher has thrown the ball in the latter 
instance, it is evident that a relay throw must be made 
by the pitcher to the baseman and if the pitcher is sur¬ 
prised and disconcerted by the runner’s move he is apt 
to make a bad throw. It is also to be remembered that 
when a delayed steal is attempted the baseman who 
should cover the following base for which the runner is 
headed now and then is caught napping and, with the 
base lying unguarded, the baseman makes a desperate and 
hurried effort to get to it with varying success. 

Spalding’s Athletic Library 


"Run-Up” of a Base-Runner 

A is the base-runner. B is the fielder with 
the ball in hand. C is the baseman. D is the 
fielder who is backing B. E is the fielder 
who is backing up C. The fielder, B-, should 
pursue the runner, A, as closely to the base- 
man as possible before throwing the ball. The 
reason for that is to give the runner the longest 
possible distance to go to the next b&se, if 
he tries to retrace his steps, yet not to with¬ 
hold a throw so long that he can slide safely 
into the base that he is trying to regain. When 
the fielder, B has thrown the ball, he should 
drop out and fall back behind D, who is to 
come forward to relieve him. If he remains 
too close to A, the latter may collide with him 
and claim interference. E should remain be¬ 
hind C all of the time, ready to retrieve the ball 
in case it passes C. In a run-up always try 
to reserve the throw as long as possible, and 
on the other hand, do not wait to throw until 
the runner is only a few feet from the player 
who is to receive the ball, as there is a possi¬ 
bility that the runner will be hit by the ball 
when it is thrown. The fielders who back 
up, must be sure to play behind the fielder 
who is expecting to receive a throw, but must 
not play so close as to obstruct him if he is 
compelled to run back suddenly. 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

Ground Rules 

It is very important to agree upon ground rules before 
a game begins, especially when it is played on an open 
space such as a park playground, for instance, where 
there is no fence or barrier. So many spectators go to 
base ball games in automobiles nowadays in the towns 
and cities of the Middle West and the Southwest that 
many motor cars are often parked behind the bases, and 
it should be distinctly understood how many bases are 
to be taken if the ball goes beyond the coaching line into 
the crowd or into or among the automobiles. 

If the captains cannot agree upon ground rules, the 
umpire must make them. It is advisable for beginners in 
base ball, and for those who play upon grounds which 
are not enclosed, to have a fixed understanding as to the 
number of bases to be taken in case of an overthrow to 
first base or to third base. 

The rules say that in awarding bases under certain 
conditions the umpire shall be governed by the position 
of the runner, or runners, at the time the throw is made. 
In the games of beginners much controversy will be 
avoided if the captains of the teams state that an over¬ 
throw is to be followed by two bases or one base, as may 
be determned, the position of the runner being taken at 
that base which he held, or had just left, when the mis- 
play was made. 

If a runner is on first base when a wild throw is made, 
either to the first baseman or the third baseman, he 
should be given one base or two bases, as agreed upon, 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

irrespective of whether he has started for second base or 
whether when the throw was made he was a step or two 
over second base, because he had started to steal that 
base with the pitch. This advice is offered as a sugges¬ 
tion to do away with argument and disagreement which 
follow almost inevitably when a dispute arises as 'to where 
a runner may have been. 

Players, captains and managers should read the 
“Knotty Problems,” published each year in the Spalding 
Official Base Ball Guide and also in the book of the 
Spalding Athletic Library series called “Knotty Prob¬ 
lems.” Many contentions would be avoided and much 
useful base ball information would be gained. It is the 
kind of information which is valuable both on the field 
and off. 


Spalding's Athletic Library 

Books to Read 

Although this book is devoted especially to instruc¬ 
tions for catchers and on the art of base-running, the 
other positions of the playing field are so intimately con¬ 
nected with the subject that it would be advisable to read 
the instructions contained in them also. 

The companion volume to this book is “How to Play 
the Infield and the Outfield.” Heretofore the various 
positions have been treated of in separate books. They 
are now so'dependent upon each other for success that 
it was decided to print all of the instructions in one vol¬ 
ume. Every player should make himself familiar with 
not only the duties of the position at which he plays, but 
he also should have at least a working knowledge of the 
other positions, so as to be able to get the best results of 
team work. “How to Play the Infield and the Outfield” 
is a new book and will be sent to any address upon receipt 
of 25 cents. 

“How to Bat,” “How to Pitch,” the Base Ball Guide 
and Base Ball Record of Spalding’s Athletic Library are 
so well known that it is not necessary to tell more about 
them. Their universal use testify to the good qualities 
of each book. 

Players who desire decisions on points of play or fur¬ 
ther information on any particular point of play should 
address Mr. John B. Foster, American Sports Publishing. 
Company, 45 Rose Street, New York, and enclose a 
stamped envelope for reply. 

Undoubtedly the least sought position on the ball field 
is that of umpire. Yet an umpire who knows his duties 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

and has a firm character will find that he will earn the 
respect of players and spectators if he knows his busi¬ 
ness. “How to Umpire” was compiled by Billy Evans, 
the noted arbiter of the American League, which is suf¬ 
ficient to show that it is done in the same efficient and 
thorough manner in which he officiates in the season’s 
championship race. Price 25 cents. 

Every reader who wishes to know anything regarding 
details of base ball is invited to write to Spalding’s Ath¬ 
letic Library, 45 Rose Street, New York, enclosing a self- 
addressed stamped envelope for reply. Every effort will 
be made to give the correct desired information. 


Spalding s Athletic Lihravy 




Spalding’s Athletic Library 


How a Base Ball Bat is Made 

Showing the Successive Processes which a Bat Undergoes in its 
Evolution from a Square of Timber to the Finished Product 

As it was said that every soldier of Napoleon carried a marshal’s 
baton in his knapsack, so it might be similarly asserted that every boy 
carries a big league bat on the ball field. 

It’s the bats that tell the story. While the pitcher’s reputation is 
based principally upon his dexterity with the ball and his ability to 
outguess the batter, the usefulness of the rest of the team is bound up 
largely with their ability to bat. For that reason the average ball 
player is as particular about the selection of his “weapon” as' a virtu¬ 
oso is of his violin. Many players have their own specifications, 
which are implicitly followed in the Spalding bat factory, and when a 
tried and trusty implement disappears it is a real catastrophe. 

The searcher for Base Ball bat timber in the North Woods, from 
whence the finest material is obtained, has an eye only for second 
growth northern white ash. The tallest pine or the lordly oak con-. 
cern him not at all. Home runs and base-hits are in his mind, and 
although he may never see a big league game or hear the plaudits of a 
world series crowd, nevertheless he feels the responsibility that is his. 

As very few persons realize the number of different operations, also 
the work and time required in manufacturing a high-grade Base Ball 
hat, the following description may be of interest and give a general 
idea of the process of manufacture. 

The first operations are practically the same on all bats, except spe¬ 
cials, up to and including the turning. From this point all different 
lines vary. 

The trees are first cut into bolts and sawed into squares by mill men 
specially employed for this purpose. This stock when sawed is then 
shipped to the factory, where inspecting for quality and grades of stock 
begins. Only about ten per cent of this stock will grade into the high¬ 
est quality bats. After inspection has been made and reported, the 
stock is moved and piled according to its several grades to season for 
one to three years. Thoroughly seasoned stock as it comes into the 
factory is first cut to length for the model required. 

After “turning” on hand lathes, the bats are again inspected and 
sorted for the several lines. This is a very rigid inspection and many 
additional bats are rejected at this point as not being up to “auto¬ 
graph” quality. Then the bats are put in racks for model and line in 
which they are to be used, and from these racks all orders are 
assembled. . . 

The illustration shows the successive operations which a Spalding 
bat undergoes in its process of manufacture. For example, in a line 
composed of twelve models, these models are selected from the rack 
referred to, taken to the burning room and branded “Spalding 100-S, 
Model 1,” 2, 3, etc. After this operation, they are next spotted by gas 
flame for effective finish. The next operation is sanding. An auto¬ 
matic machine built for this particular kind of sanding is used, bats 
passing over four grades of sandpaper. The bats are then taken to 
the finishing room, where they are filled and stained. Twenty-four 
hours is required before the next operation takes place, which is Pit¬ 
ting on the polishing material. Usually three coats are applied by 
this process, with sufficient time allowed for proper drying, after 
which bats are ready to be rubbed with steel wool. . , 

After the process of rubbing, the bats are rubbed with pumice stone 
and oil and are now ready for the final polish. These several opera¬ 
tions, such as rubbing with steel wool, rubbing with pumice stone and 
oil and French polish, are done in hand lathes. 

148 Spalding’s Athletic Library 

The ends left on the bats by the turning machines are not removed 
from the bat until the finishing process is complete. We are now at 
the point where the cutting off of these ends is done, after which they 
are sanded on a belt sanding machine and ready for the trade mark, 
which is stamped into the handle end of the bat. One more operation, 
tipping or coating the ends, and the bat is ready for the stock room. 
After a final inspection, they are sacked or put into paper bags, ready 
to be packed and crated for shipping. 

.As previously mentioned, the process through which this particular 
' line of bats goes from start to finish is only one of several processes 
of finishing. Bats such as the Spalding No. 300 “Players’ Autograph” 
line are boiled in linseed oil for two successive days before filling. 
.Several of the lines of bats are taped on the grip. 

Players who succeed in finding a bat that suits their style of bat¬ 
hing order from season to season by model name. Although in some 
■cases stars who originally gave the name to a style of bat have passed 
'out of the game, the model is not abandoned. Hundreds of players 
who have found that particular style best suited to their needs still 
call for it by name. The batter who originated the model knew what 
he wanted and what was good, and those who have tried his model 
prefer it to any other. As an instance of the widely different styles 
of batters and the variety of specifications from which a batter may 
select a model suitable to his capabilities, the following list is of 


AUTOGRAPH MODEL. Medium thick handle, large 
batting surface, giving immense driving power in the 
hands of players capable of swinging a heavy bat. 
Weights from 40 to 46 ounces. Length 35 inches. 

Ross Youngs is a good exemplar, in some respects the best, of the 
modern type of straight-from-the-shoulder-hitting left-handers. His 
parallel swing meets the ball on the center and his drive is unusually 
forceful because of the strength with which nature filled his shoulders. 
Youngs has one method of batting the ball in which he is not excelled 
by any player in the major leagues. It is what may be best called a 
running bunt. He pushes the ball instead of tapping it and is on his 
way to first at the contact of the ball and bat. 

^ AUTOGRAPH MODEL. Medium batting sur- 

. p/ face; perfectly balanced, beautiful model 

y ^ adapted to a great many styles of batting, 

v and a perfect all around bat. No more desir¬ 

able model has ever been produced. Weights from 38 to 45 ounces. 
Length 34V> inches. 

Thomas H. Griffith is a hale, hearty, short-arm swinging batter, who 
mixes that style with occasional long swings at the ball. When he 
meets the ball with one of those long swings he sends it dusting to the 

AUTOGRAPH MODEL. Handle slightly thicker 
than Zimmerman model, good striking surface. 
Weights from 36 to 42 ounces. Length 34 

“Cy” Williams is a dangerous loop hitter who is likely to drive the 
ball far and high. He takes a full arm swing when the ball comes up 
to the plate to suit him and then, if there are any short fences on the 
right field side of the ball park, the ball is likely to be lost somewhere 
on the street side of the fence. He has cleared every short fence in 
the National League. 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

AUTOGRAPH MODEL. Well balanced, compar¬ 
atively light weight, with sufficient wood to give 
splendid driving power. Weights from 36 to 43 
ounces. Length 34% inches. 

Harry H. Davis can have no better description than that of a batter 
with a “sterling style.” He hits right handed and it is probable that 
no Base Ball manager would' hesitate for a moment to recommend his 
position to any young ball player who was seeking the best way in 
which to bat the ball. He, too, is a shoulder hitter, and adhered to a 
style which he steadily improved, and in the end was looked upon as 
one of the best of the American League batters. 

AUTOGRAPH MODEL. Very small handle, 
,/t .f. fr r— and balanced so thar with a full swing ter- 

Af'’ rifle driving power results. Weights from 37 

to 45 ounces. Length 35 inches. 

When “Old Wildfire” Schulte walked to the plate for the Cubs with 
runners on bases the Chicago “fans” sat back and began to gloat 
before the pitcher threw the first ball. Such was the confidence they 
had in Schulte. Any time that any pitcher struck Schulte out—it did 
happen now and then—each Chicago “fan” took it as a personal 
affront and said words about the pitcher. Schulte liked to get his fin¬ 
gers around a bat in a grip that was convincing enough to crush the 
wood, and he had a dynamic swing that sent the ball over the heads of 
the outfielders with a motion that almost seemed like a tap. 

AUTOGRAPH MODEL. Longest bat in 
regular line. Fairly thin handle, evenly 
tapered. Weights from 37 to 47 ounces. 
Length 35% inches. 

Had Davis Robertson been possessed of the initiative with which 
“Ty>» Cobb is possessed, he might have been another Cobb and thus 
there would have been two players from the South famous as leaders 
in major leagues. Robertson has made some of the longest hits on 
record in the parks of the National League. Anything which is pitched 
to him around the waist is likely to be sent back through the field “a 
mile a minute.” When he catches a low ball right it is lifted on a 
visit to the lot which happens to be next to the Base Ball park. 

AUTOGRAPH MODEL. Short bat, small han¬ 
dle, but body quite thick. Weights from 38 to 
45 ounces. Length 32 inches. 

Miller J. Huggins was a marvel of waiters 
and the master of the choke grip on the bat. 
There wasn’t so much of him in physique, but the only effect that 
seemed to have was on the temper of the opposing pitchers. Perhaps 
they reasoned because of his slenderness he was one who should be 
easily retired when he came to the plate, but he made more pitchers 
retire than ever pitchers retired him. He had plenty of body in the 
bat he used, for when he hit the ball he gave it a blow which he 
intended to “carry through,” and “carry through” it usually did. 

AUTOGRAPH MODEL. The smallest, shortest 
and lightest bat used by any professional 
player. Specially adapted to small or light 
men. Weights from 35 to 41 ounces. Length 
31 inches. 

No batter carried the choke to the extreme that it was carried by 
Normhn Elberfeld, and in spite of the fact that he used a bat which 
was short, small and light, he was dreaded bv every pitcher. He could 
not be pushed back from the plate, and with a grip on his bat that 
was powerful and almost crushing, he fairly compelled the pitcher to 
keep the ball on the plate unless the latter were willing to walk the 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 


AUTOGRAPH MODEL. Medium grip, generous 
7V Aj'aPmm batting surface, and so designed as to get the 
y tf° // /(twxzf greatest driving power out of a reasonably heavy 
bat. Weights from 40 to 47 ounces. Length 34 

George Sisler was the leading batter in the American League in 1920. 
His position is one of the best adopted by professional players. He 
steps into the ball and uses a parallel swing. This method gives him 
command of the ball at all times. He is “on top of the ball,” as pro¬ 
fessional players put it, and not dominated by curves or speed. He is 
not a one-field batter, although the power of his swing frequently car¬ 
ries the ball on its longest flight to right field. His bat is balanced to 
be a part of him. 

AUTOGRAPH MODEL. One of the best all 
around models ever produced. Medium small 
handle, well distributed striking surface. 
Equally suitable for full swing or choke style 
of batting. Weights from 40 to 47 ounces. Length 34 inches. 

Frank Frisch cuts at the ball with a rapid motion that puts speed 
into the hits which he makes to right field. He can hit through second 
base territory with as fast a clip as any batter. Frisch is a fairly 
good bunter and improving in that respect. His ability to start quick 
and reach high speed makes it no easy matter to get him out unless a 
bunt hit is handled accurately by the fielder. He is not a pronounced 
place hitter and makes most of his long hits toward right center. 

AUTOGRAPH MODEL. Medium handle, good 
batting surface, and a very excellent all around 
bat for players of medium or light weight. 
Weights from 37 to 43 ounces. Length 32 Mj 

It is never certain to predict where Hollocher will hit the ball. 
Although a left-hand batter, he is as likely to slip one through short 
or between short and third as he is to hit to right field. His grip on 
the bat is overlapping and he handles it with ease and assurance. His 
swing is so well timed that he is almost a place hitter by his unerring 
accuracy in meeting the ball and pulling it or pushing it as it varies 
in speed. 

_ AUTOGRAPH MODEL. Medium size handle, gener- 
0 ous batting surface, slightly bottle shape grip. A 

powerful bat, and especially desirable for the choke 
style of batting. Weights from 41 to 48 ounces. 
Length 35 inches. 

Lew McCarty stands far back in the box, and steps into the ball 
with a wicked rush and a hard swing that earns him many long dis¬ 
tance hits. He meets the ball on the full of the swell of his bat. 
While at times he hits savagely to right field, he can pull a ball into 
left field with sufficient force almost to knock a fielder over. 


Owdjis&LjriAsdL-* medium size grip. One of 
J around bats in the line. W 

T 0/11/ 

Beautifully tapered. 

the most useful all 
r eights from 38 to 45 
ounces. Length 34!4 inches. 

R. T. Peckinpaugh, whose steady improvement as a batter shows 
what practice and thought can do for a ball player, meets the ball 
with an effective forearm snap that pushes it through the infield at a 
speed too fast for the fielders. “Peck” likes a bat that responds at 
once to every shift which he makes with it after it is in his grip. 
With a good eye, he waits for the ball to get to the angle which suits 
him best, 


Spalding’s Athletic Library 

/-v AUTOGRAPH MODEL. Sufficient wood to give 

O' £?„ splendid driving power. Weights from 40 to 46 

Cr ounces. Length 64 inches. 

John J. Evers, manager of the Chicago Cubs, 
is a fragile man with a kick, and handled a heavier bat than some 

ball players who were several sizes larger than the Trojan. A bat to 

Evers was just something with which to tantalize the pitcher. The 
moment he took his bat in hand he swung in a manner that was 
intended to convey a personal challenge to the pitcher. Evers’ forte 
in batting was to slip the ball through some spot in the infield which 
" " sign. 

AUTOGRAPH MODEL. Well distributed striking 
surface. Weights from 40 to 46 ounces. Length 34 

Vic Saier swings hard for long drives and chops 

a great deal the remainder of the time. He is what might be termed 

a rather steady right field hitter, w T ith plenty of power behind the ball 
and plenty of speed on the part of the ball after the bat has connected 
with it in good earnest. His line drives are wicked, and a fairly met 
low ball that he has been able to lift with all of his shoulder force 
wilt put a right fielder against the fence. 

Dore a -xo Let 


AUTOGRAPH MODEL. More tapered than 
Saier model, good striking surface. Weights 
from 38 to 45 ounces. Length 33 % inches. 

Bennie Ivauff is a free hitter who is a zeal¬ 
ous advocate of the theory of making a home 
run every time that he goes to the plate. Single hits are only “excus¬ 
able,” so far as Bennie’s ideas are concerned. If he has to make them, 
he must, but the real pinnacle of batting with him is a home run or a 
three-bagger. Bennie swings at a ball with all the length of his arms 
and plenty of body motion. 

! ^ AUTOGRAPH MODEL. Short bat, large 

G? handle, well rounded end. Weights from 40 

i v to 46 ounces. Length 32% inches. 

* Roger P. Bresnahan, right-hander and with 

a beautiful swing, was nearer like the type of batsman of the “Buck” 
Ewing school than any batter of recent years in Base Ball. A bat in 
the hands of Bresnahan was a slave. Bresnahan was the master, and 
knew just what that slave did. His body and arms were always timed 
together. He never, as some batters have done, and do. swung his 
arms with a rigid body, nor did he try to meet the ball with freedom 
of body and rigid arms. 


Even in the junior line there is a Spalding “Players’ Autograph” 
bat made. It is made especially for the youngsters who still find the 
larger bats a trifle too unwieldy. John B. Sheridan, the originator of 
the boys’ diamond, is enthusiastic over this boys’ bat, and in a letter 
to A. G. Spalding & Bros, writes: “I have tested the bats of the 
Spalding line and would recommend ‘Players’ Autograph Junior’ bats 
as being the proper models from which a boy should make a selection.” 

The variety in every line of equipment that comprises the Spalding 
list of articles for the national game seems limitless. Every player— 
in fact every “fan”—should send for a copy of the Spalding Base Ball 
Catalogue, which contains pictures and prices of everything that is 
official and up to date in the national game. A letter addressed to any 
Spalding store, a list of which will be found on the inside front cover 
of the Guide, will bring one by return mail. 

Every boy who wants 
to keep in touch 

with the latest ideas in equipment for 
his favorite game should send for a 
Spalding catalogue of the sport in which 
he may be most interested. 

Spalding catalogues are issued for Base 
Ball, Tennis, Golf, Foot Ball, Basket 
Ball, Winter Sports, Swimming and 
Track and Field. New articles are con¬ 
stantly being introduced and prices 
changed. State which catalogue you 
wish and to save time send your name 
to the nearest Spalding store (see list 
on inside front cover). 





No. 12-CL. “Double Diamond.” Has 

special truss supported frame besides 
double wiring at point where greatest 
strength is needed. Padding of new 
design. Diamond shaped opening in 
front of mouth.Each, $11.00 

No. 10-0W. “World Series.” Special 
electric welded, “Open Vision,” black 
finish frame, including wire ear guards 
and circular opening in front. Weight 
is as light as consistent with absolute 
safety; padding made to conform to the 
face with comfort.Each, $9.00 

No. 4-0. “Sun Protecting.” Patent lea¬ 
ther sunshade, protects eyes without 
obstructing view. “Open Vision,” 
electric welded frame of finest steel 
wire, heavy black finish. Diamond No. 12-CL 

shaped opening in front. Fitted with soft chin-pad; improved design 
hair-filled pads, including forehead pad, and special elastic head-band. 

Each, $8.00 

No. O-P. “Semi-Pro” League. “Open Vision,” electric welded best 
black annealed steel wire frame. Convenient opening in front of mouth. 

Each, $6.00 

“Regulation League” Masks 

No. O-X. Men’s size. “Open Vision,” electric welded frame, finished in 
black. Leather covered pads.Each, $3.50 

No. OXB. Youths’ “Open Vision,” electric welded frame, black finish. 

Each, $3.50 

No. A. Men’s. Electric welded black enameled frame. Leather covered 
pads.Each, $2.75 

No. X. Electric welded black enameled frame. 
Canvas covered pads.Each, $1.75 


No. UO. “Super-Protected.” Wires in 
this mask support each other and are ar¬ 
ranged according to an entirely new principle 
of mask construction. Eye openirg is 
straight across with “Diamond” point wired 
protection. Fitted with extra padded chin 
protection and folding padded ear pieces. 

Each, $12.50 

Send for Spalding base ball catalogue showing 
illustrations of full line of balls, mitts . gloves . bats 
and all accessories of America's National Game. 
Mailed free on request. 






PRICES SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE. For Canadian jmce* w o rpedal Canadian Catalogue^ 





No. 12-0. “Honor.” Th© 

pride of the Spalding factory, 
Special brown leather. Pad¬ 
ding cannot get out of shape, 
as it is held by an “inside 
mitt’’ of leather. Leather 
laced back and strap-and- 
buckle reinforcement at 
thumb. “Stick-on-tlie-Hand’ ’ 
strap-and-buckle fastening 

Each, $22.00 

No. 10-0. “World Series.” 

Finest selected brown calf¬ 
skin. King Patent Felt Pad¬ 
ding, leather laced back and 
special “Stick-on-the-Hand’ ’ 
strap and brass buckle fasten¬ 
ing.Each, $20.00 

No. 6-0. “Collegiate.” Special 
olive-colored leather. King 
Patent Felt Padding; laced 
back and thumb; strap-and- 
buckle fastening. Each, $18.00 

( No. OK. “OK Model.” Full- 

No. 12-0 molded face. Brown leather 

throughout. Stuffed padding- 
patent laced back and thumb: leather lace, leather bound edges, 
Leather strap and buckle fastening.Each, $16.00 

No. 5-0. “League Extra.” Semi-molded face. Special olive colored leather , 
soft and pliable; patent hand formed felt padding; strap-and-buckle fast¬ 
ening at back, reinforced and laced at thumb, and made with patent laced 
back. Heel of hand piece felt lined. Leather bound edges... .Each $12.00 

No. 4-0. “League Special.” Black leather face and finger piece; patent 
hand formed felt padding; reinforced and laced at thumb; patent laced 
back, leather lace: strap-and-buckle fastening at back. Heel of hand 
piece felt lined. Leather bound edges. Each, $10.00 

No. O. “Interstate.” Brown leather face and finger piece; leather back and side 
piece; strap-and-buckle fastening; patent laced back; leather lace. Each, $9.00 

No. AA. “Athletic.” Pearl tan leather face and finger piece, brown leather 
back and side piece; patent laced back, leather lace; strap-and-buckle 

fastening.Each, $6.50 

No. 1C. “Back-Stop.” Gray leather face and finger piece; oak colored leather 
side piece. Strap-and-buckle; patent laced back, leather lace. Each, $5.00 

No. 3L. “Amateur.” Oak colored leather face and finger piece; imitation leather 
back. Reinforced at thumb ; strap-and-buckle fastening.Each, $4.00 

No. 3A. “Public School.” Oak colored leather face and fingers. Canvas back 
| and imitation leather side piece.Each, $3.00 

No. 4E. "Boys’ Amateur.” Oak colored leather face and fingers, canvas back 
' and imitation leather side piece. Good size.Each, $2.00 

All Styles Made in Rights and Lefts 
When Ordering for Left Handed Players Specify “Full Right” 




No. FW 


Sizes and Weights of No. FW Shoes 
Size of shoes 5 6 7 8 9 

Weight per pair 18oz 18Koz 19oz20oz21oz 

Tbs Lightest and Best Base Ball Shoes ever made 

No. FW. “ World Series.” 
Kangaroo leather uppers, fin. 
est white oak leather soles. 
Hand sewed, bench made; 
strong, soft laces. Pair, $ 21.00 

leather soles, best base ball cleats. To 

Owing to lightness and fineness of this shoe 
It is suitable only for fastest players. 

No. 31UP. Special Umpires’ 
Shoes. Solid box toe and out¬ 
side padded tongue. Uppers 
of selected leather, white oak 
order only.Pair, $ 21.00 

No. 31CP. For Catchers. Otherwise same as No. 31UP. Special orders 
only.Pair, $21.00 

No. OS. “Club Special” Sprinting. Carefully selected leather; substan¬ 
tially constructed. Sprinting style flexible shank. (p a t. Oct. 9,1917.) 

Pair, $10.50 

No. 35. “Amateur Special” Good quality leather, machine sewed. 
Flexible shank, (Patented Oct, 9, 1917.).Pair, $8.00 

No. 39 . “Junior.” Leather shoes, made on regular base ball shoe last. 
Plates hand riveted to heels and soles ..Pair, $5.00 


Reg. U. S. Pat. Off. 


No. 5P. Padded style, not inflated. Patented June 22, 1909; August 
24, 1909. Canvas cover, laced at sides, permitting readjustment of pad¬ 
ding as desired.' Special body strap.Each, $13.00 

No. 4P. Padded style, not inflated. Similar to No. 5P, but closed at 

sides instead of laced. .Each, $ 9.50 

No. XP. Padded style, not inflated. Brown canvas covered. “ 7.00 

No. YP. Youths’. Bibbed and padded style, not inflated. Brown 
canvas covered.Each, $4.00 

No. 2Y. Padded style, good size. Well made. “ 2.50 





.PRICES SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE. For Cao«W price, .ce .pccUl Canadian Cataiogua 





No. ABX 

No. ABX. “Stick-on-the-Hand.” 

The “Stick-on-the-Hand” construc¬ 
tion will prove of wonderful assist¬ 
ance. Laced, except around thumb 
and heel, leather lace; strap-and- 
buckle adjustment at thumb. 

Each, $14.00 

No. AXP. “World Series.” Finest 
white tanned buck; leather lacing 
around mitt, including thumb; strap- 
and-buclcle fastening. King Patent 
Padding, enabling player to adjust pad¬ 
ding to suit himself.Each, $13.00 

No. BXS. “League Special.” Se¬ 
lected brown calfskin, bound with 

brown leather. Leather laced, except heel; leather strap support at 
thumb; strap-and-buckle fastening.Each, $12.00 

No. BXB. “Well Broke.” Brown horsehide, bound with leather. 
Leather laced, except thumb and heel. Strap-and-buckle adjustment at 
thumb.E ach, $ 10.00 

No. CXP. “ Club Special.” Specially selected brown leather face and back. 
Well padded, laced all around. Strap-and-buckle fastening.Each, $9.00 

No. CD. “Red Oak.” Oak colored leather with leather binding. Leather 
laced, except at thumb and heel, leather strap support at thumb. Strap- 
and-buckle fastening.Each, $7.50 

No. CX. “Semi-Pro.” Face of specially tanned smoke color leather, 
back of firm tanned brown leather, laced all around. Strap-and- 
buckle fastening.Each, $6.00 

No. CXS. “Amateur.” Special oak colored leather. Correctly 
padded; laced, except at heel. Strap-and-buckle fastening. Each, $5.00 

No. DX. “Double Play.” Oak tanned leather; laced all around, 
except at heel. Strap-and-buckle fastening. Nicely padded. .Each, $4.00 

No. EX. “League Junior.” Brown leather face, canvas back and 
inside palm. Laced, except at heel; padded.Each, $3.50 

All Styles Made in Rights and Lefts 
When Ordering for Left Handed Players Specify “Full Right” 

You don’t "pay for the name,” as 
some dealers who are after larger 
profits occasionally assert. You 
pay for—and get—Satisfaction. 
The Name, as evidenced in 
the Spalding Trade Mark, is a 
guarantee that you get what you 
pay for. 


I llll III 

0 005 901 332 4 # , 
evti y /vuucuc opuri anu is 

Official and Standard 

■»** r? i 



are the 
of the 

A. G. Spalding &Bros. 

Maintain Wholesale and Retail Stores in the following Cities 

New York 












New Orleans 






St. Louis 
Kansas City 
Des Moines 
St. Paul 

San Francisco 


Los Angeles 


Salt Lake City 


Portland, Ore. 

London, England 
Liverpool, England 
Manchester, England 
Birmingham, England 
Bristol, England 
Edinburgh, Scotland 
Glasgow, Scotland 

Montreal, Canada Sydney, Australia 
Toronto, Canada Paris, France 

.Factories owned and operated > by A. G. Spalding Ac Bros., 
and where all of Spalding’s Trade-Marked Athletic 
Goods are made, are located in the following cities 

New York Chicago San Francisco London, England 
Brooklyn Philadelphia Leeds, England 

Boston Chicopee, Mas*. Brantford, Canada'