Billy Evans Says: Getting Hit by Pitches - The Evening Independent - March 15, 1924
The Evening Independent - Mar 15. 1924
Billy Evans Says:
Outfielder Manusch of the Detroit Tygers was hit by a pitched ball 17 times during the 1923 campaign.
There doesn't appear to be any thing unusual about that statement. Yet from the viewpoint of the umpires in the American league it has considerable meaning.
Once upon a time, getting hit by a pitched ball, was a favorite stunt with many big league players. That system is no longer popular. The athletes much prefer to hit the ball than be hit.
Getting out of the way of a badly pitched ball is quite an art. Some players do it gracefully, others awkwardly. The point is to convince the umpire that you are really trying to get out of the way. In golf footwork plays a big .part in the success of the player. Getting distance and accuracy depends as much on the feet as the eyes and arms.
The flat-footed boxer is at a great disadvantage when pitted against the shifty athlete.
Footwork plays an equally important part in the work of the batsman in baseball. It is essential in keeping from being hit as in hitting the ball.
Certain batters by a mere movement of head or body avoid the ball. Others drop to the ground in a heap. Some step forward or backward to get out of the way.
Such methods to avoid being hit are apparent, and make it an easy matter for the umpire to reach a decision. It is the stationary batsman who causes all the trouble for the judges of play.
Kid Elberfeld, famous big leaguer in his day, was such a batsman. The Kid feared no pitcher, hugged the plate closely with his body extending well over it.
Elberfeld took such a position on every pitcher and retained it, regardless of the style ball pitched. If a ball was thrown directly at Elberfeld it was almost a certainty that he would be hit.
The Kid's feet were as if frozen to the ground. and he would move his body ever so slightly.
Manusch of the Detroit club is a somewhat similar batsman, except that he is a left hander. The promising Detroit recruit stands fairly close to the plate and assumes a crouch position.
The rules state that a batsman is entitled to first base if hit by a pitched ball unless, in the opinion of the umpire, he plainly makes no effort to get out of the way of the pitched ball.
The umpires were constantly in hot water with Elberfeld. Often I refused to give him his base, it being apparent to everybody in the park that he made no effort to avoid the pitch. yet Elberfeld I'm sure was perfectly truthful in his argument that he did not purposely try to get hit.
Manusch, on a fast ball pitched inside, seems powerless to get out of the way. He is a great batsman and naturally would much prefer taking a crack at the ball.
Often I cautioned him last year when a pitch that was perhaps only an inch away from the plate would almost graze his shirt. only to have him assure me that he had no intention of being hit.
Possibly Tyrus Cobb, master batsman. will teach him the art of getting out of the way. On such balls Cobb shifts back a trifle and pulls them down the first base.
The umpires hope Cobb so perfects Manusch's one fault at the plate, as it will make things much easier for them.