Paying attention is a crucial part of baserunning at any level.
This can be difficult. There are so many things that can go through your head as you’re flying around the bases: where is the ball, what is my coach telling me, I’m so out of shape, dear lord it’s hot.
On the bases, it’s not much different. The pitcher is the focal point of your awareness. Losing track of the infielders can be easy.
A loss of focus is exactly what happened in a high school game between the Coastal Stars 2022 Premier Prospects and the Atlanta Blue Jays 17U.
Jamey McDaniel’s Hidden Ball Trick
We’re live from a pool play matchup at the PBR Classic in Emerson, Georgia. A Blue Jays runner advances to third. He’s pumped. It’s a close game and his team needs a run.
Coastal Stars third baseman Jamey McDaniel receives the ball from the left fielder. He fakes a quick throw in what is normally a routine play 99.97% of the time.
Unfortunately for the runner, this was the .03%.
Stars pitcher Hunter Dryden has a telepathic connection with McDaniel. He knows exactly what’s going on and plays it off perfectly.
Dryden takes the mound as he normally would. McDaniel does the same at third. The runner takes his lead, reading Dryden’s movements.
He was reading the wrong book. As he gets comfortable, McDaniel sprints over to make the tag and shows the ball to the umpire. The runner is dumbfounded.
The trick play ended up being crucial. The Coastal Stars won the game 7-6.
Some MLB fans might say the hidden ball trick is reserved for the minor leagues, some might call it savvy. I call it an aspiring magician wanting to practice his slight of hand. The world is his oyster, and third base is his stage.
Along with other intangibles like grit, hustle, lunch pales, film sessions, and gym attendance, hidden ball tricks don’t show up on the stat sheet. The trending play ended up being the difference between a win and loss.