Tag Archives: Clay Center Baseball

Throw & Catch

Throwing and catching a baseball. It is about the most fundamental baseball skill there is. It is also probably one of the most ignored. It is one of my baseball coaching, check that, it’s one of my biggest, most grating-on-my-last-nerve, plain coaching any sport, pet peeves.


Baseball is generally broken down into three major parts: Pitching, Fielding, and Batting. In case you didn’t notice, throwing and catching a baseball comprise two of those three major parts.

Pitching is throwing to a catcher, right? And fielding on defense is catching baseballs and throwing baseballs. Like I said, skills that encompasses 66.66% of the game.  In my opinion, being able to throw and catch a baseball are the most vital skills you can possess as a team, or as an individual.

Poor catching and throwing often means poor baseball skill, which often translates to poor quality of team. As a player, take pride in how your throw and catch a baseball. As a coach, take pride in how each player of your team throws and catches a baseball.

Nothing puts a burr in my backside faster than watching a baseball team warm up before a game and seeing the ball hit the grass more than it hits gloves. Nothing is more embarrassing as a coach, than to watch your team running around the outfield chasing baseballs in some sort of demented circus routine. I’ve pulled teams off the field in pregame and pre-practice before due to playing chase, instead of catch.

Learn to throw and learn to catch. Find help if you need it.

For the coaches, hold the line and be firm and consistent from day one. Demand that your team throws and catches a baseball appropriate to their level. The simplest, single thing you can do to make your baseball team more successful is to improve throwing and catching a baseball.

Here is my basic coaching and teaching plan:

Daily Throwing
Focus on every throw and catch.
Consistency – Hit your partner in the torso with every throw.

  • 4 seam grip
  • Throwing Arm -Elbow above shoulder, wrist outside of elbow,  hand with ball pointing back.
  • Lead Arm – Shoulder and elbow pointing at target.
  • Front Foot – Slightly open with outside stepping to target

Throwing (5-6 throws from each distance)

  • 30 feet apart
  • 60 feet apart
  • 90 feet apart
  • 120 feet apart (Long Toss = Builds arm strength)
  • Sprint to 30 feet for 5 quick throws


  • Keep it simple with a soft glove to the ball. Go and get it.
  • Where you glove goes, your off hand follows.

Take pride in your throwing and catching skills. Work on it every day. Focus and concentrate when you play catch. Talk, joke, or have all the fun you want, but remember the focus needs to stay on throwing and catching the ball.

Never forget this: If you can effectively throw and catch a baseball, you will be competitive in every game.

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2006 Summer Conditioning Theme: The Keys to Success

Keys to Success…

  •  Winners do the things losers will not do.
  •  Being successful often means working harder than the next guy.
  •  Having success builds success within the individual and the team.

 photo (2)

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Seven years ago, on July 7, 2004, THE SHOT HEARD AROUND CLAY CENTER occurred.  A home run was hit in a summer American Legion baseball game at Kelly Campbell Field.  I can’t remember who we played that night. In fact, I can’t remember any details from that doubleheader. I can usually remember those details a coach is programmed to remember, but I can’t on this one, too traumatic I guess.  Honestly, I searched for the original scorebook in my collection of artifacts to help trigger memories, but it was nowhere to be found.  These seven years have passed with an epiphany of my acceptance of the reality IT actually did happen and IT was not a dream or heat-induced hallucination.

Kiel Unruh hit a home run.

There it is, the most unlikely sports highlight ever. I admit it is still shocking, even more shocking than SpellDog’s walk-off blast in another game that season.  Both those home runs were the only home runs either of those men hit in their entire baseball careers.  SpellDog’s was impressive (and a walk-off), but since he had actually hit several pop flys to the outfield in his illustrious career, a coach knew it would only be a matter of time before he hit one.  But Kiel, not even close.  I guess I need to give a little physical background on Kiel.  He is skin and bones.  There is nothing to this kid.  We had to keep the hanger in his jersey just to keep it from falling off over his shoulders. That’s skinny!  He was a wizard with the glove in the outfield, though.  He and his outfield mates cut the open outfield space down to a bare minimum, he just couldn’t hit a baseball to save his life.  He was our permanent nine-hole hitter, he was our walking sacrifice bunt and he was only a position player if we could use a DH.

Kiel has gone on to great accomplishments as an adult. He is assistant women’s basketball coach at Stephen F. Austin University, fresh off being a staff member of the 2010 National Women’s Basketball Champion Emporia State Lady Hornets.  He has enjoyed many successes in life and in sports,  but…

One night in early July seven years ago, Kiel connected.  The ball jumped off his bat and sailed over the Campbell Field Green Monster and into the kiddie playground.  Someday we will build a monument in the playground to this event.  Someday we will gather as old men on the field and sing songs of glory.  Of all his life accomplishments, I sure hope THE SHOT HEARD AROUND CLAY CENTER will always rank right up near the top.

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