The "hidden ball trick" is a deceptive play in baseball where a fielder conceals the baseball without the runner on base realizing it. The goal of the trick is to catch the unaware runner off-guard and tag them out when they stray too far from the base or fail to realize that the ball is not with the pitcher or another fielder.
The hidden ball trick is typically attempted by infielders, especially middle infielders like second basemen and shortstops. The play often unfolds after the pitcher has the ball, and the runner on base takes a lead or wanders off the base, thinking the ball has been thrown back to the pitcher or another fielder.
To execute the hidden ball trick, the fielder must first receive the ball and hold it discreetly, out of the view of the runner. As the runner takes a lead or stands off the base, the fielder keeps them in sight, waiting for the opportune moment to make the tag. Once the fielder senses that the runner is not paying attention to the ball's location, they quickly tag the runner with the hidden ball, resulting in an unexpected and often surprising out.
The hidden ball trick requires precise timing, coordination, and a quick tag, as the success of the play hinges on catching the runner off-guard. If executed successfully, the hidden ball trick can be a memorable and thrilling moment in a baseball game, showcasing the fielder's cunning and the runner's momentary lapse in awareness.
Though not frequently seen in professional baseball due to the high level of competition and awareness of players, the hidden ball trick remains a rare and entertaining play that delights fans and adds an element of surprise to the game. When successfully executed, the hidden ball trick serves as a reminder that baseball is a sport where quick thinking and deception can play a crucial role in gaining a competitive edge.
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