Tuesday, April 14, 2020

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

Previously in Case Play 2020-2 - Pitcher's Hidden Ball Trick, we asked whether an usual delivery was legal or not. Now, having consulted the Official Baseball Rules, we have an answer also applicable to NCAA college and NFHS high school baseball, with a few caveats.

To solve this pitching puzzle, we went rule-by-rule for those listed on the Case Play. Here were the findings:

OBR 3.07(a): At the professional level, the glove crotch (or webbing)'s color may or may not be legal. Enforcement of the PANTONE 14-series rule is rather difficult without carrying an entire color swatch onto the playing field. Likewise, leave this alone at the lower levels, which have no such rule. All levels of baseball require the glove not be white or gray, which this glove does not appear to be (brown/yellow). This case play pertains to a college pitcher; his glove is legal.

OBR 5.07(a)(1) / NCAA 9-1-a / NFHS 6-1-2 / 6-4-2d: We turn to a compare-and-contrast example of an overseas professional pitcher attempting a similar hidden ball trick maneuver, but ultimately failing due to an interruption to his delivery while transferring the ball from pitching hand to gloved hand behind his back. For the purpose of our case play, there does not appear to be an interruption nor alteration (OBR/NCAA/NFHS) and the pitcher remains in continuous motion (NFHS). This is legal.

OBR 6.02(a)(10) / 6.02(b): Whereas an illegal pitch carries the penalty of a balk with runner(s), this balk rule (remove one hand from the ball) does not transform into an illegal pitch with no runners on base. This rule thus is not applicable.

OBR 6.04(c) / NCAA 5-15-a-3: The unsportsmanlike conduct/game misconduct rule is the thorniest since it is subject to the greatest degree of judgment. In college, this likely would not qualify as unsporting as it would at a lower level (e.g., Little League).

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Answer - Pitcher's Hidden Ball Trick Case Play Legality (CCS)
Related: Our catcher-umpire management Plate Meeting Podcast episode with Scott Kennedy.


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