Early Baserunning 101

There was a time in baseball where it was common practice that while running the bases you were to keep one eye on the ball and the other eye on the umpire.  If a player saw the umpire’s attention diverted elsewhere, a baserunner would often take the liberty of cutting 10 or even 20 feet in front of second or third base (missing the base completely) towards his next destination.

How did they get away with it?  Is the obvious question.  The early Detroit Tiger teams with Hall of Famer Sam Crawford, and of course, Ty Cobb, were notorious for using this method of cheating the rules.  But it was not limited to just one team, they did it everywhere.

I guess the rules were more loose back then?  It was easier to question the umpire’sBallUmp.jpg authority, I guess?  If the ump didn’t see it, then who is to say the player didn’t touch the bag (a manager would probably argue)? 

Whenever I ran the basepaths in a game, it never occurred to me to do something like that.  Maybe, its because I’m not a good thief.  I did get caught stealing a hot apple pie from my high school cafeteria, but thats another story.  Following the basepaths in an orderly fashion seems so basic to the integrity of the game, doesn’t it?  Although, back then players were always trying to cheat and tamper with the game.  Not entirely unlike the way players used steriods in the 80’s and 90’s.  Cheating and baseball are one in the same.

Anyway, I’d love to see a player actually try this techinque, we’ll call it, in a modern game.  Although, today there are more umpires, instant replay boards and the umpire’s authority is more absolute.  It would make for good comedy, though on a ball field.               

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