Should coaches call pitches?

Yes/No/Maybe … What do you think?

There are two coachs together we call pitch and location. We base it on what we see in the box, and also on how we pitched to them last time. Here is what we say to our pitcher focus on executing the pitch we take care of the rest.

My answer to this question would be, it depends on the circumstance. With a young, inexperienced pitcher, and by that I mean a kid under 14 who doesn’t have much stuff, the coach can be of some help; but with an older pitcher who has a repertoire he can rely on, it could be construed as micromanaging or, at worst, interference with what should be the catcner’s job. Casey Stengel had a tendency to micromanage, and a problem arose when Yogi Berra, who was learning how to catch, kept looking into the dugout for every little thing. The pitchers didn’t like it; they wanted Yogi to see the game through their eyes and not the manager’s—and finally Allie Reynolds told the rest of the staff that he would break Yogi of that habit, and he did.
What’s even worse, in my opinion, is the manager who thinks he knows everything there is to know about pitching but in actuality doesn’t know his elbow from third base And there was one instance where it cost this manager’s team the National League pennant. Remember the third game of the Giants-Dodgers playoffs in 1951? Ninth inning, runners on first and third, Don Newcombe pitching for the Dodgers, and his arm was shot—he insisted he didn’t have anything left, but some of his teammates told him to pitch until his arm fell off. There were two guys warming up in the bullpen—at first it was Clem Labine and Ralph Branca, but Labine was instructed to sit down and Carl Erskine got up to throw—no doubt on instructions from Dressen, who didn’t want to have anything to do with Labine. Coach Clyde Sukeforth reported that Erskine was bouncing the ball all over the place but Branca was on target, so the manager called for Branca. Dressen must have left his brains behind on the kitchen stove, or he would have remembered that the next batter was Bobby Thomson, and Thomson owned Branca, had homered off him several times during the season. Not to mention that because of an injury to Roy Campanella the Dodgers were forced to use a substitute receiver who couldn’t catch a cold. And we all know what happened.
In any case, I would say that maybe in certain circumstances—meaning with an inexperienced young pitcher—the coach should call the pitches. Otherwise, let the catcher do his job. 8)

Yes -

I am more comfortable with the coach calling the pitch.

More comfortable maybe, but does it teach the pitcher/catcher anything about situations or are they just blindly going about playing?

I think at some point the pressure needs to be on the pitcher and catcher to call pitches.

Great part of one of one of the games on last night on ESPN, Garciapara was doing the game with another guy doing color and he said that sometimes the pitcher would ask what to throw from him, he said they had great communication and would relay everything with glove signs etc. Pitcher would ask with a glove slap and he would respond somehow, infield then knew what was coming and how to play it.

So at some point coaches need to get out of calling pitches and into managing the game more, I see so many coaches so into what to throw that they forget that 90% of what they should be doing doesn’t involve the pitcher/catcher or batter. LEt the players play the game and coaches should start managing games. Of course there should be some how to (at any time) get a pitch that the manager wants…he wants the next one fastball then it should be a fastball (without having to go to the mound).

[quote=“buwhite”]More comfortable maybe, but does it teach the pitcher/catcher anything about situations or are they just blindly going about playing?

I think at some point the pressure needs to be on the pitcher and catcher to call pitches.

Great part of one of one of the games on last night on ESPN, Garciapara was doing the game with another guy doing color and he said that sometimes the pitcher would ask what to throw from him, he said they had great communication and would relay everything with glove signs etc. Pitcher would ask with a glove slap and he would respond somehow, infield then knew what was coming and how to play it.

So at some point coaches need to get out of calling pitches and into managing the game more, I see so many coaches so into what to throw that they forget that 90% of what they should be doing doesn’t involve the pitcher/catcher or batter. LEt the players play the game and coaches should start managing games. Of course there should be some how to (at any time) get a pitch that the manager wants…he wants the next one fastball then it should be a fastball (without having to go to the mound).[/quote]

First, there is a great divide between high school pitching/catching and MLB pitching/catching. Yes - it does teach us something about the game and about ourselves - baseball at the high school level is complicated but the skill level is not near as advanced as the higher levels.

I know whenever we are left to call our own pitches it doesn’t go quit as well as when the coach does it. He allows us to do it in non-district games (less important games) - I think we are 8-5 in those games and he does it in the district games (we are 10-0).

Most teams have more than one coach - one calls pitches - the other sets the fielders. If calling pitches isn’t considered part of managing a game - I don’t know what is.

Well I do know that there is a big gap between HS and MLB but my thought was when are you going to figure it out, do you go to the bump with a pitch in mind? or do you go and just wait for the sign? My 14 year old knows what he wants to throw about 75% of the time, the other 25% he says it’s a tossup over one pitch or another, the sign comes from the catcher and if he calls one of those then that’s what he goes with, if it isn’t he shakes it off and gets one of those 2 pitches. Coaches (who call the game) questioned him on it and he explained his thought process and now, they signal the pitch, catcher relays the sign, he either uses that pitch which does match 75% of the time or gets one of the others 25%. Coaches want you to be smarter baseball players but keep one of the most mental parts of the game from you.

I just think in order to move yourself forward you need to be totally in charge of the game, coaches who tell you never to shake it off are short sighted and don’t know just how smart a guy you are, also confidence in what you throw is so important. If you get a fastball hammered it won’t be his base hit, it’s your’s. Confidence kid…use what you know and what your are learning to be even better than you are today.

kidmullen,

I was a HS catcher from 1962-1965, and I never, repeat never had a sign sent in from the bench. On top of that, I never heard of any other catcher getting signals either during that time, and I can assure you we talked to each other. When I eventually got to work out with MiL teams in 1965, I can assure you that I never got any signals sent in from the bench there either. We were expected to know how to call a game, and if someone didn’t, they weren’t allowed back there.

But the game has changed tremendously. Now-a-days its pretty much just the opposite. I was away from the game from ’65 until ’95, and sometime during that period, things changed 180 degrees.

What I’ve never understood, is why coaches are so loathe to even let the battery try to work it out. After all, what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen? A HR with every pitch? Impossible. A hit with every pitch? Impossible. A solidly hit ball with every pitch? Impossible too.

How do know if things went better with the coach calling pitches than if he didn’t?

In the end, there’s absolutely no reason why no matter how good a coach is at calling pitches, he can’t teach it to his pitchers and catchers any other way?

I think coaches don’t trust or educate their players enough to make the calls themselves. Should be a required part of developing game plans, part of bullpens should be the mental part too, getting a pitcher to pitch vs throw.

My son’s catcher calls the signs. Unfortunately, at times it seems he only has 1 finger. I have to keep reminding my sone to mix up his pitches and shake off signs as necessary.

Pitchers can fall into the same habbit if the catcher calls the pitches too…pitchers gotta throw what they feel like is the best pitch for “them” at that time, not anyone else.

My son’s middle school team has the assistant coach call all the pitches - and I hate it (as does my son). First, he calls the pitches based on who is up and by that I mean if a really strong hitter is up (top and middle of the line-up), he has my son throwing almost 50% curveballs. He does have a very good curveball and the coach just relies on it too much. Now, my kid is 14 and throws 72-74 with his fastball so there is no reason to overemphasize the breaking ball. But the thing that gets me the most is that he is way too predictable with his pitch calling and, on top of that, almost all of his fastball calls are down and away. That gets to me because I like to test hitters early on in the game to see if they can handle the inside heat - why go away, away, away and give the batter more time to react? Over time, they just stick the bats out and bloop the ball over the second baseman.

I think pitchers should control the game - they know what is working and not working for them and adjustments need to be made throughout the game; from batter to batter as well as from inning to inning. Yes, it’s all about confidence and who knows what any particular pitcher is feeling good about other than himself?

That’s an excellent point that far too many coaches either just don’t grasp, or choose not to bother with purposely.

One of the things that separates the baseball generations is that a lot of things were learned on the sandlot or playground. Things like choosing teams, making lineups, positioning players in the field, and calling pitches were learned because there weren’t adults running everything! Heck, something as simple as scoring a game, which almost every man, woman, or child who watched baseball could do, has become nearly a lost art for something so easy to do.

I challenged my son’s HS coach to do this, and to his credit he tried, once.

I told him to have the 20 players on the roster go onto the infield, They had to choose 2 teams all by themselves, make out the lineups with 10 players in each, assign the field positions, score the game, coach the bases, and provide 1 player each inning for an umpire. I then guaranteed pizza for the entire team if they could do that and then play 2 full innings in an hour. He wasn’t allowed to help them or instruct them on anything.

That’s something our HS coach used to have us do 4 or 5 times a year, and sometimes we’d have to deal with an uneven number of players, and often less than 18. It wouldn’t take us more than 5 minutes to choose captains, throw a bat, choose up teams, and get the game underway.

My son’s team spent 15 minutes just arguing about how to choose teams. The coach gave up and called the mess off when a wrestling match broke out between a couple of the boys arguing about who should bat where in the lineup.

Its not that the players today are stupid! Its that no one ever forces them to do much more than show up! IMHO, too much of their thinking is done for them by adults.

At the major league, maybe collage level, where clubs have spent big dollars on scouts, I can understand it I guess. But I see it at the 10/11/12 and up level. Doesn’t make any sense to me, except that the coach must feel he has some sort of unfinished business.

I think younger players are better served by the coach providing input in general terms. My 12 has thrown really well this year, and people have commented that you can see he has a plan, hence my post “I had a thrower, now I have a pitcher”.

There’s something in the lexicon of baseball having to do with pitchers, and its derived from the “old” game, not the new. Its automatic for darn near everyone to watch a pitcher and comment about how well or poorly he’s mixing up his pitches. Well, that used to be much much more true than it is today in amateur ball of all levels.

When I hear it getting to the point of ridiculousness, I’ll sometimes interrupt the conversation and note that the pitcher isn’t deciding anything, but rather its the guy in front of the dugout sitting on the bucket or chair making all the pitch choices. That usually shuts down the conversation because they have to admit its what’s happening, even if they don’t want to.

And that fallacy of amateur pitching is very often perpetuated by the very guy calling the pitches! How many times have you read or heard an amateur coach being interviewed say how his pitcher was really mixing up his pitches? I don’t quite know why when asked by a reporter about that star pitcher who just won the big game, why they won’t just flat out say, “I was doing a great job of calling pitches, and Joey was doing a great job of executing my instructions.” Perhaps its that if Joey had blown the big game, they might have to explain why either they called such a poor game, or how Joey had done a poor job of executing instructions.

In days gone by, when coaches kept out of it and allowed the players on the field to play the game, the those answers would be true to a large degree, but now-a-days they’re nothing but lies of omission that perpetuate something that used to be true, into nothing more than a myth.

from a 2008 post i made :

This is good discussion. As JD suggests, much of it may be in vain because (unfortunately, imo) HS & College coaches will call pitches. During my time coaching in college, I called pitches 1 season. I think I reached a fair compromise…the sign coming in from the bench was a “suggestion” that the pitcher could over-ride if he choose to. Obviously if the result of a a pitch shook off was a bad one, there would be discussion in between innings … this is a great teaching moment (truth is, could have just as easily been a bad result on the pitch i suggested) .

I really don’t care WHO calls the pitch…as long as the pitcher has the final word - AND accountability.

Personally, I think it’s really annoying when in town team coaches take charge and call all the pitches. Unless they caught at a high level. The majority of people that have caught for me can’t call games very well, so I just shake them off whenever. So my answer for this is definitely no depending on what level you’re on.

And that’s where there a very important distinction that should be made. Its unfortunate though, that so many coaches don’t quite get it, and on top of not getting it, won’t be take full accountability when what he calls doesn’t work, but will gladly take credit when it does!

In the world of MLB where there is access to computers and data of all types on the hitters in the dugout, calling pitches from there would make the most sense. But as the levels get progressively lower, there is less and less access to information about any given batter, making the choosing of any particular pitch for any particular hitter more and more of an uneducated guess.

Also as the levels get lower, the chances for the pitcher to be able to either execute the pitch well, or put the ball where he wants to put it, decreases as well, so there’s even less reason for the coach to be calling the pitches.

Then, to muddy the waters even further, many of the “better” pitchers are taking private lessons, and more often than not they include instruction on what to throw and when to throw it. IOW, they are tutored in calling pitches by someone who probably knows more about pitching than the team coach calling the pitches, and very likely knows more about the individual pitcher and his abilities than the team coach does.

Should a hs qb call his own plays in football? Should you steal on your own?

When you try to mix sports, you change from talking apples and apples, to apples and oranges. There’s absolutely no comparison with trying to direct 11 players in a coordinated effort to run a play where all 11 have specific duties, and throwing a pitch.

We have 3 players on our current HS team with a green light for running all the time. The reason there aren’t more is, the others haven’t proven themselves either fast enough or good enough at reading the pitchers to be on their own. We’ve always had at least 2 players like that, and have had as many as 5 in the lineup who were free to go whenever they wanted.

But try to stick with the subject at hand. The discussion is about pitchers, and since the OP is a HS coach, I ‘d say talking about it relative to HS pitchers is appropriate. Why do you believe the way you and your assnt call pitches is more successful and teaches the players how to do it when you’re not there to hold their hands, better than just teaching the players how to do it and letting them play the game?

I understand that you’re doing it to give the team the best chance to win, but how have you tested the hypothesis that the players couldn’t be just as successful if they did it themselves, with instructions?