Neyer: Catchers have been stealing strikes for a long time

From SABR member Rob Neyer at on March 27, 2015:

A few weeks ago, as you’ll no doubt remember, I related my discovery of references to pitch-framing, and the technique thereof, in a book published in 1982 and written by Milwauke Brewers personnel. I was particularly taken with the term stri-ball, used to describe a pitch on the edge of the strike zone that might easily have been called either way by the umpire.

Our goal is not to have balls called strikes, but to have every strike called a strike. We especially want the marginal strike, the “stri-ball,” called a strike. This is the ball on the corners, the pitch just at or slightly below the knees, the fastball just above the waist, and the curveball at the waist. How we catch this pitch determines whether it will be called a ball or a strike.


Remember, we want only those strikes we are entitled to. Good framing technique will usually get you more marginal pitches. We are not trying to put one over on the umpire, only to give our strikes the best showcase possible. If you are not smooth, the umpire will feel that you are trying to take advantage of him by pulling pitches into the strike zone, and he could take pitches away from you.

Later, I got to wondering when people actually started talking about this stuff, publicly?

Some years ago, I collected dozens and dozens of books about pitching. Some of these books were actually about playing baseball, generally; I just got them for the parts about pitching. But all those books, about a dozen of them, also include instructions for catchers. So I dug these out and looked for references to pitch-framing…

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Originally published: March 27, 2015. Last Updated: March 27, 2015.