The Ploy's the Thing

The hidden ball trick has been source material for a comedy of eras, with Ozzie Guillen in a starring role
June 10, 2013

The move used by Southaven (Miss.) High pitcher Wyatt Short in the opener of the best-of-three Class 6A championship series was a hybrid, a mix of pickoff and hidden ball trick. With one out in the top of the seventh, a Harrison Central High runner on second, and the score tied 3--3, the senior lefthander faked a pickoff throw while his fielders reacted as if the ball had rolled into centerfield. When the runner took off for third, Short, who had never given up the ball, had him in a rundown. Southhaven went on to win 4--3, then clinched the title with an 8--2 victory.

The hidden ball trick—almost as old as the game itself—has had its share of artful conjurers in MLB. Here are some of the memorable sleights of glove seen (or unseen) through the years.

Oct. 9, 1907

BILL COUGHLIN

The Tigers' third baseman catches Cubs outfielder Jimmy Slagle in the first successful use of the trick in World Series history.

April 17, 1945

TONY CUCCINELLO

The White Sox' third baseman gets Indians shortstop Lou Boudreau—who one day earlier had said there was no excuse for falling for the trick—in the sixth inning of a 5--2 Chicago win.

Aug. 5, 1989

DAVE BERGMAN

The Tigers' first baseman fools White Sox shortstop Ozzie Guillen (above) with the hidden ball for the second time in two months, feigning a throw-back to the pitcher after a pickoff attempt—the same move that Brewers first baseman Greg Brock used to tag Guillen out on June 23.

May 13, 1991

STEVE LYONS

The Red Sox' second baseman pulls the trick on a familiar mark ... Ozzie Guillen, who ties a major league record for gullibility by getting caught for the third time.

Sept. 19, 1997

MATT WILLIAMS

For the second time in three seasons, the Indians' third baseman fools a rookie—in this case, Royals second baseman Jed Hansen—by asking him to step off the base so that he can brush dirt off the bag.

Aug. 10, 2005

MIKE LOWELL

The Marlins' third baseman never returns a relay throw to the pitcher and holds the ball until Diamondbacks centerfielder Luis Terrero takes a lead.

PHOTOBILL SMITH FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (GUILLEN)

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)