Marysville High School pitcher Jacob Dutter fires toward the plate during a 2021 game. A new rule from the national high school sports federation states pitchers must at least simulate receiving signs from the catcher, starting with the 2022 season. Some high schools have not done that in the past, but MHS pitchers have always received signs from their catcher before each pitch. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
The National Federation of State High School Associations has implemented a new rule for the 2022 baseball season.
It’s a mandate, however, that won’t impact the Monarchs of Marysville High School.
The new rule says high school pitchers who do not receive signs from the catcher must now simulate taking a signal with one foot on the rubber before proceeding with a pitch.
The addendum to Rule 6-1-1 was the lone change forwarded by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Baseball Rules Committee.
It was subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors earlier this summer.
A pitcher leaning forward to receive a sign from the catcher is fundamental to the pre-pitch phase of the game.
That’s the way it’s been on all levels of baseball for years upon years.
It indicates to both the batter and the players in the field the ball is about to be put in play.
It’s also the typical signal for any runners on base to begin taking their leadoffs.
Further, most high school baseball coaches deliver their defensive play calls – including pitch selections – from the dugout, which allows a pitcher to throw toward the plate abruptly (“quick-pitch”) and catch opposing batters by surprise.
This new mandate, however, forces hurlers to pause, providing ample time for all participants to prepare for the pitch.
“The new rule isn’t going to make any difference for us,” said Marysville High School head coach Nick Blake. “Our pitchers always receive the signs from the catcher.”
The Monarch boss said his team encountered only one opponent whose pitchers did not take signs from a catcher during the 2021 campaign.
“That was Olentangy Liberty,” he said. “However, it really didn’t impact our offensive production.”
Most times, coaches will flash a signal to catchers, who in turn will relay the signs to the pitcher.
In order to keep hitters and opposing teams from picking up signs, coaches signals and the signs relayed by the catcher are different.
Coaches may use different signs by touching their face or upper body.
Backstops will then use a series of fingers or fist pumps to give the ensuing information to pitchers.
Blake said an advantage to not simulating a sign from the catcher helps speed up the pace of the game in some folks’ minds.
“Coaches can give the sign in some way to both the pitcher and catcher at the same time,” he said. “That would save some time.”
Pitchers now, however, will at least have to make the effort to look into the backstop for signs.
Blake said the new rule won’t be that much of a difference.
“It really doesn’t matter a great deal, however, as long as the catcher gets the information to the pitcher,” he said. “It’s just that we’ve never gone without our catchers giving the signs to our pitchers.”