Home' Junior Baseball : May-June 2014 Contents 36 • May/June 2014 • www.juniorbaseball.com
By Dr. George Selleck
for the ump and all to see.
B) There’s one out, a man on ﬁrst. Your
pitcher strikes out the next batter for two
outs. Your team, in a pre-arranged “trick”
then makes like it's the third out and
begins to jog off the ﬁeld. As the confused
baserunner wanders off ﬁrst, the catcher
rolls the ball back to the mound. The
pitcher casually picks it up, and tags out
the runner, for the real third out.
C) With a man on ﬁrst, the batter swings
and misses, and the catcher drops the ball.
The baserunner advances on a steal, but
the second baseman informs him it was
a foul ball and to go back to ﬁrst. As he
returns to ﬁrst, the catcher throws to the
baseman who tags him out.
George A. Selleck, Ph.D. is a sports
psychologist with degrees from Stanford,
University of Southern California and
Princeton. He has played, coached and
consulted for both amateur and professional
athletes, and is author of many books
including 'Common Sense: Coaching to Make
a Difference' (2007, Coaches Choice).
John McGraw was a professional
baseball player back in the days
when there was only one umpire in
the game. As a third baseman. McGraw
had a little trick he liked to play. What he
would do was hold a base runner's belt
as he tagged up to score on a ﬂy ball. It
wasn’t legal, but McGraw could often get
away with it. During one game, Mcgraw
tried his “belt holding trick” on Pete
Browning. Apparently, McGraw had done
this to Browning before, because Pete
was prepared. He had unbuckled his belt
ahead of time. So Peter ran home (holding
his pants up) while McGraw was left at
third with a belt in his hand.
Like me, you probably chuckled at
this story when you read it. But how
would you feel if an opposing athlete
successfully pulled this trick on your
son as they were preparing to score the
winning run in a championship game?
Outraged? Incensed? Ready to call for the
On the ﬂip side, how would you feel if
it were your child who successfully pulled
off this or a similar play?
The issue of cheating in baseball is a
difﬁcult one to address. On the one hand,
there is the kind of cheating that everyone
agrees is wrong — such as deliberately
throwing a game. Then there’s the kind
of cheating that is seen by some as being
“okay because everybody does it.” This
might include things like cutting the
baseball, or picking off the other team’s
I think the best way for parents to get
an idea of how their children feel about
cheating in sports is to talk with them
about it. You could start by asking the
1. Is it ever okay to cheat? Is it okay
to break some rules, but not others?
Can you give some examples?
(One point to get across here is that
it can sometimes be acceptable to
break the rules in sports if you're
doing it to use the penalty as part
of your strategy — not to try to
“get away” with something.)
It's Only Cheating If You
Get Caught, Right?
IN THE STANDS
2. How would you feel
if you knew the only
reason you lost was
because the other
Would this make you
want to cheat too?
Why or why not?
3. How would you
feel if you knew
the only reason you
won was because
you cheated? How
would you feel about
yourself if you had
an opportunity to
cheat, but didn’t?
4. Do you think you
learn more from
cheating or not
What kinds of things
do you learn?
5. What does cheating
say about the things you value?
What does it say about how you
feel about yourself?
To me, playing by the rules of the
game is an issue of character. Athletes
with character value themselves enough
to do what is right, even when no one
else is watching. They feel good about
themselves because they know they have
earned their achievements.
Athletes with character know that in the
long run, cheating may help them win,
but it’s not cheating that helps them be a
Tell us what you think! Do you
consider these three scenarios cheating?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
and let us know your view:
A) The “hidden ball trick”. The runner
beats the throw to a base. The pitcher
walks over to the baseman, appears to
take the ball from him by hand, holding
his glove closed, and walks towards the
mound. As the runner steps off the base
to get ready for his lead, the baseman tags
him and then produces the “hidden” ball
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