Giving Signs From Third Base

By Dave Holt

While umpiring I like to mess with youth coaches some times. I will see a third base coach touching all these areas on their bodies for baseball signs like in a situation when there are runners on second and third base and two outs.

Obviously this is not a time to put on any signs or plays. The batter will be starring down at him as he goes through his repertoire of plays indicating a baseball sign is on. There is no chance of a bunt, steal or hit and run play.

Between innings I will ask him in a friendly tone, I’m trying to learn the game and can you help me? Can you tell me what plays you are giving the batter in that situation?

Boy, do they dance around that one. They start scrambling for a logical answer which they cannot come up with and usually admit they basically just want everyone to look at them before every pitch no matter what.

The simplest sign system is usually used when you have a one game league all-star game or exhibition where players from several teams assemble for a game or two. That is because it is very simple and a fast, easy system to implement.

Coaches get frustrated when players miss signs and it usually hurts the team. How do I make a system that is so simple no one misses signs? Ah Ha. Just use my easy system all the time.

Just pick a HOT indicator. I use the right hand to the bill of the hat. Nothing is on until I touch my right hand to the hat when going through the signs. Touch the indicator and the count is on. All the batters and the baserunners have to do is count how many times I do this particular thing.

Now that the indicator has been touched everyone must pay attention to count the thing I do at the end of the signs. When I do it once, the sacrifice bunt is on, twice and the steal is on. Three times is the hit and run. Four times is the delay steal.

If you think your opponent has picked off your system just change the indicator.

I have a few more individual signs for the things like a squeeze bunt, steal on your own, drag bunt for a hit, rare take sign and stuff like that. These are pretty discreet and I do not use an indicator. But you could if you wanted.

Whatever signs you use keep them simple and do not put on signs when all the batter can do is hit away. Review the signs regularly.

After finishing his professional playing career Dave spent eleven seasons managing in the Red Sox minor league system helping to develop several major league ballplayers. After leaving the Red Sox Dave managed and recruited in the Independent Professional Baseball leagues. He has also coached collegiate wood bat and high school teams. His site, is a wealth of information for baseball players and coaches of all levels.

The Not-So-Great Divide

By Brian Gotta

I recently made a visit to Montgomery, AL to see my son play baseball. The town was filled with history, both from the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. Here was where Rosa Parks refused to surrender her seat on the bus, where Martin Luther King, Jr. preached and led marches. Learning more about the events of those times made me wonder how much progress we’ve actually made in all of these years.

I can’t imagine there is anyone not saddened by the state we find ourselves in today, fifty years after the famous march on Montgomery. It seems we, as a society, are retreating even farther into our own camps, separate ideologies and prejudices. Tolerance of differences and celebration of diversity have always been points of pride in America, but everywhere you look it seems those ideals are being trampled by hateful rhetoric and bigotry.

So what does this all have to do with youth sports?

I was thinking about a team of kids aged, eight, nine, ten, eleven or twelve, it doesn’t really matter. And it isn’t important what sport they’re playing, baseball, softball, soccer…anything. The team is comprised of two or three youngsters each who are Christian, Jewish, African-American, Asian, Hispanic, Muslim and Hindu. Their parents come from different places in the world and society, but here are their kids all on the same team.

When a young Asian boy slides in home safely, there is a white and black teammate there to give him a high-five and pat him on the back. When the Middle-Eastern player scores a goal, he’s hugged and congratulated by a young Indian player, joined shortly after by one of his Jewish and Hispanic teammates.

When the team’s manager teaches one of the players how to swing a bat, he does the same for the next and the next, regardless of color or creed. When the soccer coach demonstrates the proper technique to strike the ball, he has each player give it a try one after another, providing the same gentle instruction and encouragement to every child.

I don’t know what the parents would be doing during these games and practices. Would they be on the sideline eying each other suspiciously, or would they commune in the shared joy of watching their children do something they loved?

At the end of the game I see the Team Mom handing out home-baked cookies and juice boxes, beaming as each child politely tells her “thank-you” and watching them sit in a circle laughing and enjoying their snack.

We know how to play together. What changes when we become adults that makes it so difficult to live together?

Brian Gotta is a former professional youth baseball coach and current volunteer Little League coach and board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels which can be found at He can be reached at