Bask in the glory of the first ever "steal of first" in organized baseball
We see players steal second and third all the time. Every now and then, we even see wizards like Elvis Andrus steal home. But you can't steal first base. That's been true since the beginning of baseball, and until July 11, that remained the case.
However, the partnership between Major League Baseball and the independent Atlantic League expanded after the All-Star break with four new rules -- including an innovative new one that defied baseball convention:
"Batters may 'steal' first base on any pitch not caught in flight (the batter can be thrown out if he attempts to run)."
Put simply, if there is a wild pitch or passed ball with no runners on base, the batter is allowed to just go for it. He can steal first! Technically, it's scored as a fielder's choice, but the play is not limited to bloopers like Lloyd Moseby anymore.
It took a little while for the first Atlantic League player to be daring enough to go for it. That makes sense. Think about it -- unless there are two strikes, you never think of bolting for first base on any pitch, no matter how wild. That's just not how playing baseball is ingrained in your mind.
On Saturday, it finally happened. Tony Thomas was up to bat in the sixth inning for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs when an 0-1 pitch sailed by Lancaster Barnstormers catcher Anderson De La Rosa. After a brief moment of hesitation, Thomas bolted:
It took a moment for it to click in Thomas' head that he could do it, but once he saw that the thought hadn't even remotely crossed the catcher's mind, he made history.
I have no doubt that the Blue Crabs' skipper approved, but you just know that if former Pirates and Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon was running the show, he would love it even more.