There’s an old saying in baseball, that you don’t steal on the catcher, you steal on the pitcher.
The phrase was first coined during the old Connie Mack, Philadelphia Athletics days in the 1930s when Bridgewater’s Mickey Cochrane would take it personally that opposing baserunners would swipe bases seemingly at will against certain pitchers on the A’s squad.
Well, it may seem ironic then that a once professional baseball catcher is held in the highest esteem by the baseball world today when it comes to the fine art of stealing bases. This Sunday at Elizabeth Lowell Park he’ll be on hand to unveil some of his secrets, techniques and tips to any high school-aged players who want to learn them.
Cotuit Kettleers field manager Mike Roberts, for 22 years the head coach at the University of North Carolina and a former catcher in the Kansas City Royals’ farm system, will share his expertise Sunday, May 20, from 1:00pm to 4:00pm at Lowell Park (10 Lowell Avenue, Cotuit) to any and all high school-aged baseball players who’d like to learn the ins and outs of base stealing.
It is doubtful that anyone in the baseball world today knows more about how to steal bases than Roberts, who two years ago published “You Can’t Steal Second Base with Your Foot on First!” along with his son, Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts.
In fact, when Coach Roberts was managing the 2000 Wareham Gatemen, his team tied the Cape Cod Baseball League record for most steals in a season with 134 in 44 games. And whenever someone on the Cape – or anywhere in the country, for that matter – is looking for advice or ways to improve their base-running, then it’s the former Tar Heels’ helmsman they turn to for advice.
“Before I had the privilege of playing for Coach Roberts, I felt that stealing bases was simply about speed and reaction time, a mistake that many runners make,” says United States Naval Academy assistant coach Jason Ronai, one of Roberts’ former players at North Carolina-Asheville.
“Coach Roberts taught us that base stealers use not only their athletic gifts, but their minds and systematic calculations to steal bases. As a runner converted into a true base stealer, I went from relying solely on athleticism to knowing the situation, understanding the mind-set of a pitcher, calculating my leads, improving my jumps and systematically stealing bases. His system teaches runners to simply know when you do or do not have the base stolen, as opposed to just outrunning the baseball. That type of knowledge is a powerful offensive tool.”
Roberts’ clinic this coming Sunday does come with a small fee, however, of $60.00, which, in today’s world of $400 metal bats and $150 cleats and $400 mitts seems a pittance in terms of the value gained. The bottom line: if you take baseball seriously and want to take your game to the next level, you must attend this clinic.
You can register and pay for the clinic online at www.kettleers.org and click on the web site’s “clinics” section or contact clinics director Stacy Wardwell at firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost of the clinic includes a free copy of Coach Roberts’ DVD of the same title as his book, “You Can’t Steal Second Base With Your Foot on First!”