Francis: No-pitch intentional walks are not new

From SABR member Bill Francis at on March 27, 2017:

“An intentional walk always comes at a crucial time, and the pitcher should be made to throw the ball. Anything can happen, and sometimes does.”

Sound familiar?

That quote comes from Red Sox manager Pinky Higgins back in 1956 when the American League experimented during Spring Training with directly ushering a batter to first base without tossing a single pitch via an intentional walk.

This particular baseball debate cropped up again recently regarding improving the game’s pace of play when, on Feb. 22, it was announced that the Major League Baseball Players Association agreed to Commissioner Rob Manfred’s request to eliminate the four-pitch intentional walk in favor of a manager’s signal from the opposing dugout, one of a number of rules modifications for the 2017 season.

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Originally published: March 27, 2017. Last Updated: March 27, 2017.