Thursday, March 6th, 2008

"Do We Concede the Run?"

I have a number of baseball tales that I love sharing. Honestly, this is my favorite.

Summer 1988. My Dwight Pony League baseball team was matched against a team from Streator, Illinois. One of my high school friends, Tony Parker, patrolled first base. Nobody ever accused Tony of hiding a dictionary in his back pocket, but I guess that was what we appreciated about him. Perhaps that is what transforms a routine error into a timeless tale.

During this particular game, I was on the bench next to Chad Heenan. Chad was a big guy who loved sports as much as he loved food. Chad and I sat back and watched the game from the dugout on the first base side.

Our Pony League coach was Howie Rub, a blond-haired sports legend from our high school. I cannot remember if he was a college student at that point, or if he just completed his degree. Either way, he paced in our dugout.

"Hey, coach," Tony said, shading his eyes with his glove. He stood a few feet from the bag, kicking dirt.

Streator had runners on first and third with no outs in the inning. I cannot remember the score, but I know we were losing because we had not scored yet.

"Coach, are we conceding the run?" Tony asked.

"Yes, concede the run," Howie said.

Chad and I locked stares. "He doesn't know what that means," we said, in unison. Anyone who follows baseball understands what it means to "concede the run." When a team concedes the run, they allow the runner on third to score to settle for the easy out. This strategy keeps your team from giving up a big inning. Simple technique.

"Okay," Tony said, moving into fielding position.

The batter slapped the first pitch to Tony at first base. Tony lowered all six-foot-plus of his frame to the dirt to scoop up the grounder. Rather than stepping on first base for the easy out, our first baseman fielded the ball and fired to the catcher. Naturally, our catcher was out of position because he knew that we decided to concede the run. Tony launched a rocket over our catcher's head and drilled the backstop. The runner from third scored, the runner on first advanced to third, and the batter landed upon second base. Streator still had no outs.

"Hey, Tony," Howie said, barking at his first baseman.

Tony kicked some dirt around the bag.

"Do you know what it means to concede the run?" Howie asked.

Tony turned to our coach. "Nope," he said.


9 Comments
daveheinzel
That's a great story. Man I love baseball. On the surface, it's just a bunch of dudes hanging around waiting to jump on a ball. But there's so much going on that you don't even know about (especially back in the days of Pete Rose).
Dave Heinzel   Thursday, March 6, 2008
billpearch
You're right, there is a lot more going on than most people realize. I had a huge argument with someone at work once regarding which sport had more action - baseball or football. My position was they are equal.
Bill Pearch   Saturday, March 8, 2008
ozthegreat
The idea that there's no timekeeper in baseball has always fascinated me. Technically, a game could go on forever if the circumstances were right. That's beautiful. I love when someone asks me "why is this happening" or "why did that happen" because I love explaining the game. I'm not saying I know everything there is to know about baseball, because there are frequently things that come up and I learn something new. But I enjoy talking about the strategy of he game. Every pitch has a motive, not just a guy standing there chucking the ball towards the plate. Keep the baseball chatter alive!
ozthegreat   Saturday, March 8, 2008
billpearch
Hey batter, batter! Hey batter, batter! Does that count as chatter?

Yeah, and in baseball the defense has the ball. That's unique. When I had that debate about football versus baseball, I kept explaining that football has more violent activity, but it is broken up. Snap, action, then huddle for 25-30 seconds. With baseball, you never know if the next pitch will be swung at and missed, get slapped through the hole between shortstop and third base, rocket into the seats down the first base line, or go sailing over the fence for a home run.
Bill Pearch   Saturday, March 8, 2008
ozthegreat
Or beans some drunken, Abercrombie wearing pretty boy sitting in the bleachers. Have you ever heard the George Carlin bit where he compares Baseball to Football. It's classic!
ozthegreat   Saturday, March 8, 2008
daveheinzel
It's amazing that no matter how long you've been watching baseball, no matter how much you know, there are still situations that come up that make you go "hmmm, never seen that before."

Also, my wife would really like to see a rule that says that if the runner gets to first base before a fielder catches their fly ball, they should be safe. But I think she also wants to see some fire pits and free-form base running, so take that consideration with a grain of salt.
Dave Heinzel   Saturday, March 8, 2008
billpearch
Hmmm. Sort of sounds like an off-season reality show - "Commando Baseball."
Bill Pearch   Saturday, March 8, 2008
ozthegreat
That's where they don't wear underwear, right?
ozthegreat   Saturday, March 8, 2008
billpearch
Okay, we'll shift it over to Bravo. The networks won't host that one.
Bill Pearch   Saturday, March 8, 2008
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