The Good Old Hidden Ball Trick


Last summer during a game we had a kid get picked off on one of those hidden ball tricks where the pitcher fakes a throw to second and everybody runs after it. I just wanted to get other peoples take on it. I’ve always thought that it was bush league. Do coaches instruct their teams to practice it? It just seems little league to me.


I put this in the mental game category because everything needs to go right for it to work and the pitcher needs to be on the same page with everybody.


College teams use it as well. It needs to be practiced to get the timing right and the base runner needs to take his eye off the ball as well as attempt to advance without first finding the ball. Since it only works when runners fall asleep at second base, I don’t have a problem with it. Second is the only remain base where this is legal.


Last year my sons summer team had a guy get nicked off third. RHP stepped and threw to third. Did a good job of selling it. Started his throw like he was going to throw hard but lobbed it so the third baseman could sprint over and catch. The third baseman caught it and put his hands up like “what the heck?” They met halfway between third and the mound, chatted for a couple seconds, the assumption being a sign got messed up.
Pitcher back behind the mound third baseman a couple steps off third. Runner walks a couple steps to start his lead, third baseman tagged him out. He just never have the ball back to the pitcher.
I think it’s fine. I look at it as a form of a pickoff. If it is a traditional hidden ball like Astro described with the fake throw or a throw and faking giving the ball back.
In a 7 inning game a D just got 1/21 of the outs they need on the cheap.


I tried it last year when i was playing third. pitcher threw over and i went over to talk to him, faked like i gave him the ball then when the pitcher got back on the rubber the runner took a lead and i tagged him out. unfortunately i didn’t tag him out because it was a balk because the pitcher can’t be on the rubber without the ball. I know, rookie mistake. but can the pitcher be on the mound just not on the rubber and not have the ball?


by rule the pitcher can not be on or astride the rubber without the ball. he may be in the 18’ dirt circle. usually walking around the back of the mound with his back to the runner allows for a bold runner to begin his lead early because he does not feel threatened. The key for the third baseman is to have the runner see you well off the bag and not watching him. Once he shifts attention to the pitcher, F5 can then slowly slip behind the runner from outside his peripheral vision, then sprint in for the tag. Be sure to block the runner from returning to the base because the base umpire may be sleeping as well. By the time he swivels his head around, if the runner is in contact with the bag, you may get a blown call.


The approach I was always taught was to stay on the back until the pitcher straddled the rubber.
If he is “going for a walk” and you can’t see the ball in his throwing hand, get on the bag.


I assume you mean stay on the bag…not the back. Yes, never leave the bag until the pitcher is a top the mound.


i gotta try that. gotta be good at selling it though


A couple years ago before I was in high school, a guy on the high school team got picked off second via the hidden ball trick and that was in the regional championship, which means the other team went to state. He was the tying run. Next year we were in the same regional as the, again (my freshman year) and they tried it against another team they were playing. Anyways we went on and beat them and went to state. I guess if you’re the one picking the guy off it doesn’t seem that bad, but it’s only happened to my team in my experiences.


Yeah, stay on the bag.
Typing that on a phone that autocorrects and makes me crazy.


I had a game one time. I was playing third and their was two outs. Pitcher threw back and faked this sidearm throw. Kid starts to get back off not thinking and stepped off the base. I immediately tagged him and the inning was over.