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First Base-1B

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1B - The First Baseman is a “gloveman”. Their primary job is to receive the ball from the other infielders to make the force out at first. A strong throwing is not a necessity at this position. A tall player provides the ability to reach to the sides and turn potentially errant throws into outs. First base is ideally suited for players who throw left handed as this sets them in a strong throwing position to the rest of the diamond, especially 2nd base, without having to twist their body and makes for an easy sweep tag at first base for pick plays from the pitcher.

Beginner: This position needs to be filled with a player who has a good glove and can catch the ball both above and below the waist. Few things are more frustrating for a fielder than to make a good play, a good throw, and then have the first baseman drop the ball. If the pitcher makes a good pitch to get a ground ball, and the infielder makes a good play, don’t let it be ruined by a sloppy play at first. The most two most important skills for a first baseman are good footwork and the ability to stop the throw in the dirt. Note that I said stop the throw in the dirt, not catch the throw in the dirt. At the beginner level, there are more errors (mostly overthrows) made at first base than any other base. Good footwork will position the first baseman to make the proper play more often. Proper positioning for a first baseman is three or four steps behind the baseline and 4 or 5 steps away from the foul line. This keeps the play in front of the fielder and makes it easier to run forward to the bag on a ground ball. Also, at first base, a ground ball only needs to be caught and then a couple of quick steps to the bag to make the force out. There is rarely a throw required at the beginner level. On a ground ball not hit to the first baseman, the proper footwork is to: 1. quickly move to the first base bag 2. place one foot on the bag and the other slightly in front of the bag 3. turn to square off to the position fielding the groundball 4. as soon as the flight of the ball can be determined, step in the direction of the throw with the free foot 5. catch the ball. If the throw is not catchable while keeping the foot on the bag, then the first baseman needs to do whatever is necessary to stop the ball. This includes stepping off the base to either side to reach the ball, jumping to catch a high throw, or blocking a low throw to prevent the runner from advancing on an overthrow. Most beginning players will try to catch every throw with their foot on the base, including those in the dirt, 10 feet wide, and over their head. Teach players that it is okay to give up the base to catch the ball. Drills: 1. The best time to get your first baseman lots of reps is during the between inning warm up during games. Don’t let your first baseman get lazy at this time. It’s a perfect setting for receiving a variety of throws from all infield positions. If needed, stand with the first baseman during the warm up and provide instruction. 2. In a practice setting, position your first baseman in normal fielding position. Simulate a groundball to another field by placing the coach approximately 25 feet away inside the infield (vary and angle to simulate 2B, 3B, and SS). Throw the ball in the dirt repeatedly to teach the first baseman to give up the bag and block the ball. If the player is afraid of being hurt by the baseball, use tennis balls or waffle balls to build their fielding confidence.
Intermediate: Third strike passed balls. When the catcher misses or drops the third strike, the batter may attempt to reach first base. It is a force play at first base (of course a tag can also be made). Depending on the bounce of the ball, the first baseman needs to provide the best possible target to the catcher to make the throw. The fielding rule is very simple, get on the same side of the base as the ball. If the ball bounces to the first base dugout side of the catcher, the first baseman should position himself with his right foot on the bag, standing in foul territory. This gives the catcher a target to throw to, without having to throw across the runner. If the ball is to the third base dugout side, the first baseman shold stand with their left foot on the bag, in fair territory. As long as the first baseman leaves a clear line to the base, the runner may not interfere with the fielder's effort to catch the ball.
Advanced: On a passed ball, with a runner on thirdbase, the first baseman become the back up man to the pitcher. The pitcher will be covering home and the catcher retrieving the ball. The first baseman positions himself approximately 30 feet behind the pitcher, in line with the throw from the catcher. If the catcher throws the ball, and misses the pitcher, the first baseman is set to stop any runners from advancing, while leaving the remaing fielders to cover the bases.

On throws from the right fielder and center fielder, to home, the first baseman is the relay man, positioned on the infield grass. The first baseman needs to position himself between the fielder throwing the ball and the catcher. A proper throw from the outfielder will be on one hop to the relay man. The relay man shold position himself to field the hop on a long bounce, with a side ways stance, glove closest to the catcher. This position readies the relay man for a quick transition to a throw. The relay man needs to be familiar with the arm strength of the fielder and adjust the distance between accordingly. instructions will come from the catcher. "Relay! Relay!" means to catch the ball and throw it home. "Go! Go! Go!" means to leave the throw alone. "Cut 2! Cut 2! means to cut off the throw and make the play at 2nd base (or first or third)..
  The Dream Play: The “Dream Play” for the first baseman is the long pop up in foul territory behind and to the left. It requires an on the run catch over the right shoulder.

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