Monday, February 13, 2012

Baseball's Seventh Commandment by J. D. Thorne

I came across the “10 Commandments of Baseball” on an advertising card that had been a keepsake of my Dad’s from Bill Zuber’s Restaurant and Dugout Lounge in the Amana Colonies of Iowa. The “Commandments” were composed by Joe McCarthy who managed the three most storied franchises in the golden age of baseball: the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees, and the Boston Red Sox. He still holds the highest winning percentage for any Major League baseball manager even though he retired over a half a century ago. McCarthy's principles are at the center of my classic book called The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life) published by Sporting Chance Press. This post touches on McCarthy's Seventh Commandment.

Commandment Number Seven: “Always run them out. You can never tell.”

“Always run them out” is one of those important principles of baseball. It is taught as soon as a tee ball player can manage a swing and it is reinforced throughout the player’s entire career at every level. It is a “commandment” that is widely accepted and honored.

It is the foolish batter, who stops running to first on what appears a hopeless, routine out, only to have the fielder make the rare mistake, which would have made the player safe had he not stopped running. It seems so obvious, but it takes mental training to remember to ignore one’s first inclination to slow down at the disappointment of making an out. In the 2005 season opener, Milwaukee Brewer left fielder Carlos Lee hit a soft, floating ball toward short right field. The second baseman correctly waved everybody else off the ball as he lifted his glove. However, he took his eyes off the ball at the last second to look at the runners, being confident of the easy catch. The ball hit the heel of the glove instead of the pocket and fell safe to the ground for an error, but only because Carlos Lee never stopped running to first!

Next time you see a major league player “dogging it” on the base-path, key that player’s name on your favorite search engine the next day and you are likely to see him “burned at the stake” on a dozen baseball blogs. Baseball fans expect and appreciate the proprieties at all times. Nevertheless, reminders and remediation are needed to keep the player alert and running.

Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press


  1. In business the last couple years, we have all learned to keep running them out!

  2. As important as it is to keep running them out in life and in sports, so many batters hesitate when they pop one up.