The Importance of first Base and third Base Coaches
Baseball is called the “thinking man’s game.” It looks like a simple game. Throw a ball, hit a ball, run down a line to a base. Keep moving around the bases until you cross home plate. However, the game requires more than just an understanding of the basics to play it well. Many factors go into getting a runner around the bases. The running speed of the hitter is the starting point. Baseball players tend to be little boys in big bodies. They all believe that they can run like the Flash. The base coaches at first and third have to bring reason to the field and tell the player whether to stop or run.
It’s not just about running speed. When leaving home plate after making contact with the ball, the runner should watch the first base coach to see if the ball was called fair or foul. The first base coach will also have a view of the field that is unavailable to the runner unless he slows down to look around. That split second could mean the difference between safe or out. So, it falls to the first base coach to tell the runner with actions and words to stop or keep running.
The first base coach will pay attention to the manager’s signs. He can then let the hitter know if it a steal or hit-and-run situation. He has to keep track of outs to make sure the runner knows whether to run on contact or watch and make sure that a fly ball isn’t caught before running. In a steal situation, this coach helps the runner read the pitcher’s motion to determine the amount of lead and when to depart for second base. The first base coach becomes the expert on each position player on the opposition team. He should know if the fielder can throw a ball accurately and far enough to get the runner out after he fields the ball or catches the fly.
Rounding second base, the runner should look to the third base coach for guidance. Once again, often the play is behind the runner and only this coach can accurately tell what the runner should do. Along with the first base coach, this coach will relay signs to the hitter and base runners. Both coaches monitor for wild pitches and passed balls to advise the runner to go or stay.
These coaches should understand the nuances of each ballpark and the possible shortcomings of players who are playing at less than full capacity. It is these coaches’ responsibility milk every base out of each play or misplay. They are the base runner’s eyes and ears. Players count on their split second decisions to guide them to be at their best when rounding the bases.