Recently, our MLBlogs friend Matt Jackson wrote an article titled “What Is It About Playing Catch?” on MyGameBalls.com. My answer: everything. Everything about playing catch is outstanding, timeless, and perfect.
I’ve played catch my entire life. So, I thought I’d share something specific I love about playing catch.
First, let’s meet the cast of characters. Thoughout my life, I have played catch with a lot of people. But outside of organized baseball, there are two people who I have played catch with more than all of the others…
…my best friend, former teammate, former right side of the infield mate, and former roommate, Paul Samione.
Historically, my dad and I have played catch in the front yard of my boyhood home. Paul and I play catch everywhere – in front of my parents’ house, in the road in front of the house Paul and I used to share, at the park, or wherever else we find ourselves with gloves and a baseball.
Of course, over the last couple years, another guy has broken into the list of my all-time top catch partners…
It is Tim, of course! Actually, one of the things I really looked forward to about having a kid was having a live-in catch partner. Something I had been without since I moved to Pennsylvania and broke up the happy home I used to share with Paul and my brother in 1998-99.
That last picture was actually taken after the first time Tim and I ever played catch with a real baseball. It was October 11, 2008. And here is what it looked like…
Anyway, so lets get to it. There are tons of intangible aspects of playing catch that I love. But I don’t think anyone needs to hear my abstract thoughts on the subject. Rather, I would like to share something specific:
THE ACCURACY GAME!
The accuacy game is something we played at practice in high school. But pretty much every time Paul and I find outselves in the same state, we break out the gloves and a baseball and, before long, we’re playing the accuracy game.
- The two throwing partners pick a distance for the game.
- Throw the ball back and forth.
- The receiver on each throw has to plant his feet and try to catch the ball without moving his feet.
- The thrower can earn 2, 1 or zero points on each throw.
- TWO POINTS – the thrower earns 2 points if the receiver catches the ball within the frame of his upper body or head (as depicted by the red box above)
- ONE POINT – the thrower earns 1 point if the receiver catches the ball anywhere outside of the frame of his upper body without moving either foot.
- ZERO POINTS – the thrower earns zero points if the receiver has to move either foot to catch the ball or can’t catch the ball — this includes leaning over so far that the receiver catches the ball before moving his feet, but has to move his feet immediatley to stop from falling down.
- The receiver makes the scoring call.
- First thrower to 10 points wins, but the second thrower gets the chance to tie or win after the first thrower reaches 10 points (i.e., if the the score is 9-9 and the first thrower scores one point to make it 10-9, the second thrower gets the chance to either tie at 10-10 with a one point throw or win at 11-10 with a two point throw).
Here are some pictures to show how it works:
Here, Paul demonstrates a 2-point walk-off win in a match played on the beach in Kingston, Washington. (The inset picture shows that we are across Puget Sound and north of Seattle). These pictures are poor quality because they are screen shots of a video. In this game, I was the first thrower and I had just scored my 10th point to go up 10-9. On his final throw, Paul nailed a perfect 2-pointer to take the win. We were probably playing at a distance of 90 feet or so.
Here is some photographic proof that I can nail a 2-pointer myself:
On the left, I haul in a high 1-pointer from my dad at a family picnic with both sets of my grandparents a couple years back. On the right, my Dad snags my zero pointer. He caught the ball, but he had to move his left foot to make the back handed ankle high grab.
Finally, when playing the accuracy game, some judgment calls will have to be made on close throws, like this one:
That throw could arguably be called a 2-pointer or a 1-pointer. Most of Paul’s glove (and the ball) are probably above the top line. Of course, there are no lines to help you make the call when playing the accuracy game. A lot of the tougher calls usually occur at the bottom end of the 2-point range. Often times, a good rule of thumb is that it is probably a 1-pointer if you have to turn your glove over and make a basket catch at or below your waist. A 2-pointer is usually back handed just above the receiver’s waist line.
As the rules above state, the receiver makes the call. Paul and I are usually pretty good to each other. Who wants to win because you make cheap calls against your partner? Not me.
That’s about all there is too it. Paul and I usually like to play several games in a row at varying distances. You can alway switch things up and make your own variations. Paul and I have played (the very, very difficult) pop fly accuracy game or (as shown above in the scoring guide picture) you can play with the thrower keeping his feet planted (like Adrian Beltre throwing to first base).
So there you go, among many other things, one more great part of playing catch: the accuracy game.
Give it a try.