When Whitey Ford first came up to the Yankees in 1950, Eddie Lopat (and what an incredible pitching coach he was) sat him down on a bench in the dugout and went over every batter on every team in the league. He talked about, and analyzed in depth, those guys’ strengths and weaknesses. He spoke of good and bad low-ball hitters, good and bad high-ball hitters, the plate crowders and the ones who hit with the foot in the bucket (pulling away from the plate as they swung), the dead pull hitters and the ones who went to the opposite field, the Baltimore choppers and the uppercutters, the ones who could bunt and who couldn’t—even the ones like Yogi Berra, about whom it was said that the only way to pitch to him was to throw the ball under the plate! And Ford listened—which was one reason he went 9-1 his first year and continued to build on and expand after returning from military service. Memory, yes—but mostly years of experience; Lopat had been making an exhaustive study not only of pitchers and pitching but also of hitters and their strengths and weaknesses, formulating ways and means of sending them back to the dugout grumbling and grousing about strikeouts and weak dribblers to the first baseman.
Lopat also did the same thing with me. There were occasions when I would be facing a team I had seen before but had never pitched against, and on those occasions we would go over the opposition lineups. And I too listened, and I formulated strategies for dealing with those guys. This included, from time to time, shaking off the catcher’s sign—going around the horn and coming back to the first pitch I wanted to throw. That was the point: to further confuse and discombooberate the batter and set him up for my hard slider, complete with the crossfire which I had so fallen in love with that I used it just about all the time. It was all me and the catcher, no coaches or other people telling us what I had to throw!
So—if a twelve-year-old shakes off a catcher’s sign and wants to throw some other pitch, nineteen times out of twenty s/he knows exactly what s/he is doing. That coach who insisted that the kid throw a fast ball belt-high on an 0-2 count, which resulted in a home run, should be ashamed of himself!!! That is NOT how one wins games. 8)