I remember the time when Eddie Lopat, my incredible pitching coach, asked me how I was doing with holding runners on base. I replied that I thought I might have a problem, in part because I too was righthanded. Lopat told me not to worry about it, that I wasn’t out there to set records with pickoff moves but just to hold runners on. A few days later we spent a whole morning working on all sorts of holds and moves, and in the process he taught me an absolutely devastating snap-throw pickoff move that served me very well for the next two decades that I pitched. He told me that the key was to watch that runner—was he a bump on a log, a runner who wasn’t going anywhere, or was he a definite threat to steal, or would he go if the hit and run was on. We worked on pickoff moves for all sorts of runners on all bases, and he showed me how to thwart an attempted suicide squeeze! The whole point was: one step too far off the bag, whoosh, he was out! Move fast and throw a strike.
Some time later he orchestrated a pitcher’s fielding practice in which I took part, and we had some real live baserunners for me to practice with. It was a lot of fun and a terrific workout, among all the other things we did—comebackers, fielding bunts, backing up at any and all bases (an absolute necessity when the fielder was out of position, etc., etc, and I do wish they would do this in Little League instead of futzing around with those face masks which really don’t help much!)