Friday, April 10, 2020

Case Play 2020-2 - Pitcher's Hidden Ball Trick

A recent video of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth baseball pitcher Adam Horowitz's pitch from Windup Position while removing an empty pitching hand from his glove before loading the hidden ball and delivering to a stunned batter who takes the pitch for a called strike has led baseball fans and umpires to wonder about this delivery's legality.

Case Play Question: Can a pitcher attempt to conceal the baseball from the batter during delivery by separating and reuniting his hands three times during the windup? Is it legal to pin the ball against the outside of a glove using the index finger of the gloved hand?

If this is illegal, what is the penalty with no runners on base and what is the penalty with runners?

Is a mound magic trick featuring a (feel free to read up on the seven basic principles of magic here [Penn and Teller have a fine act on the subject]) steal, misdirection, and load legal?

AnswerRule-by-rule explanation as to legality of F1's windup trickery (4/14/20).

The following video analysis lists all relevant rules (OBR/NCAA/NFHS) and what to watch for when making your call and interpretation of whether this pitcher's delivery is legal or not. Thanks to the Umpire Video Archive for sharing.

Rules Library & Video as follows:
OBR 3.07(a): "The pitcher’s glove may not, exclusive of piping, be white, gray, nor, in the judgment of an umpire, distracting in any manner. No fielder, regardless of position, may use a fielding glove that falls within a PANTONE® color set lighter than the current 14-series."
OBR 5.07(a)(1) & NCAA 9-1-a [Windup Position]: "...From this position any natural movement associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without interruption or alteration..."
OBR 6.02(a)(10) [Balk]: "The pitcher, after coming to a legal pitching position, removes one hand from the ball other than in an actual pitch, or in throwing to a base."
OBR 6.02(b) [Illegal Pitches with Bases Unoccupied] & NCAA 9-1-d: "If the pitcher makes an illegal pitch with the bases unoccupied, it is a ball unless the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter or otherwise."
OBR 6.04(c) [Unsportsmanlike Conduct] & NCAA 5-15-a-3 [Game Misconduct]: "No fielder shall take a position in the batter’s line of vision, and with deliberate unsportsmanlike intent, act in a manner to distract the batter."
OBR Definition of Terms & NCAA 2-29: "A FIELDER is any defensive player."
NFHS 2-13: "A fielder is any one of the nine players of the defensive team."
NFHS 6-1-2: "...After he starts his movement to pitch, he must continue the motion without interruption or alteration."
NFHS 6-4-2d: "...failing to pitch to the batter in a continuous motion immediately after any movement of any part of the body such as he habitually uses in his delivery."
Alternate Link: Pitcher's Hidden Ball Trick Case Play - Is it Legal? (CCS)


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