Left-handed pitchers are incredibly hard to steal off of. Many times, the runner on first base will simply take off for second on what’s called “first move” because these crafty southpaws can throw over even after picking up their front foot.
Some of the best pickoff moves of all time come from lefties. Andy Pettitte‘s was so good that he nabbed not one but two runners in Game 2 of the 1995 American League Division Series against the Seattle Mariners. Still, his 98 career pickoffs are a far cry from the MLB-record 144 Steve Carlton recorded.
Successful pickoffs are all about fooling the runner. No one — not even Pettitte or Carlton — was more creative at that than Rice’s Blake Fox, who may have invented his own trick play pickoff.
Blake Fox’s Trick Play Pickoff
Every sports website on the Internet was talking about Rice pitcher Blake Fox when he attempted the sneakiest and slickest pickoff move of all time.
Fox was on the mound facing the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns at Minute Maid Park, the same Houston Astros stadium Pettitte briefly dominated in before heading back to the New York Yankees in 2007.
Rice led 2-1 in the fifth inning when Fox stepped off the rubber to seemingly adjust his hat and hair while wiping some sweat off his face. He placed his glove on his left hand, where the ball was still gripped tightly. He then dropped the mitt and fired over to first to try to catch ULL runner Joe Robbins snoozing.
What’s funny is that while he didn’t pick off the runner, he did catch the cameraman off-guard. Whoever was filming from centerfield didn’t even realize Fox was attempting a pickoff move. That’s how sneaky it was.
Fox told Rice Athletics he learned the move from a former teammate named John Williamson. However, he said he retired the move because “all of America” saw it on social media.
“It’s pretty fun,” he said. “Definitely didn’t expect it. Getting all of the texts from friends and phone calls and what not. It was fun.”
Fox wasn’t the only lefty to every try this pickoff. Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Torres also attempted it, though the runner saw it coming as well:
Fox was drafted in the 10th round of the 2016 MLB Draft by the Milwaukee Brewers and he played just one season of rookie ball. Now, he’s an assistant coach at Episcopal High School in Bellaire, Texas, where he’s hopefully teaching his clever moves to young pitchers.