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How to Prevent Someone from Stealing Your Signs in Baseball

Stealing signs in baseball is a game within the game. Keep your opponents from figuring out your signals.


  • Step 1: Designate a visible coach on the bench to signal players from the dugout, but with signs that mean nothing because another coach at the other end is the actual one in charge. He may call out nicknames that secretly direct players in the guise of bland encouragement.
  • Step 2: Use coded numbers instead of signs, each player with a wristband containing the numbers, which the coach calls out. Change them every game. One coach was known to shout in foreign languages to confound the opposition.
  • FACT: During the 1898 season, the umpires caught the Philadelphia Phillies using a wiring system. A spy stole the catcher's signs and, using a telegraph, buzzed the third base coach through a contact in the dirt under his foot to tip off the batter.
  • Step 3: Flash a sign for a pitch that, though the other team may catch it if they've seen it repeated, is actually intended to be thrown two pitches later.
  • TIP: The signs may change throughout the game, which is sometimes what the catcher does when he goes to the mound and talks to the pitcher.
  • TIP: Many teams use an indicator signal, such as touching the nose or a hand clap. The sign that follows the indicator is the real one.
  • Step 4: Devise a number system between the pitcher and catcher to denote the type of pitch and location. The use of two fingers at the beginning of the sequence, for instance, may indicate a curve, and then the fingers flashed at the end of the sequence indicates the location.
  • Step 5: Hide your catcher's signals from a runner on second base by keeping the catcher's mitt still. By not tipping off the location of pitches by motioning with the glove only at the last second, pointing inside or outside, you keep them off balance.
  • Step 6: Use dummy signs to prevent someone from stealing the real ones. Perform a flurry of motions, touches, brushes, and flicks that the opposing team will try to figure out, though they're meaningless gestures.

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