Slip ‘N Slide


Ty Cobb sliding into third base about 100 years ago.

 

Go to a professional baseball game these days, and you’re likely to see a baserunner slide with his hands first into a bag.

It’s the wrong way to do it, but it looks flashy.

The right way to do it is to slide feet first. It protects the hands and the head. All too many baserunners jam a finger sliding hands-first (commonly known as “head-first”), which is why you sometimes see a runner clutch his batting gloves in his hands when running the bases. If his hand is closed, he’s less likely to jam a finger.

Look at photos taken a century ago of Ty Cobb, arguably the best baserunner in the history of the game. You’ll never find a photo of him sliding head-first. You’ll find photos of him sliding feet first, sharpened spikes high, as he goes into a base. But never with his hands first.

There’s some belief that head-first is faster. But there’s no doubt that feet-first is safer.

When I was the Angels’ fall instructional league last October, I saw the coaching staff use a classic training technique to teach the players the proper way to slide.

Out came the sliding mats, a foam-cushioned rubber sheet placed on grass. Players remove their shoes and run towards the mat is if it were a base. They can flop on it and slide, like the Wham-O Slip ‘N Slide we slid on as children.

Not wanting to risk a tear to the uniform pants, the coaches broke out the old Angels road jersey pants worn during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Needless to say, not everyone had a fitting pant-size. Some couldn’t even button their waist bands.

Below are some photos from the sliding drill. You can find photos of fall instructional league players in the FutureAngels.com Digital Photo Gallery where reprints are available for purchase.


Angels minor leaguers await their turn on the sliding mat.

 


Travis Witherspoon.

 


Chevez Clarke.

 


Carlos Ramirez. (Who says catchers can’t run?)

 


Taylor Lindsey.

 


Jose Jimenez. (Another catcher shows his wheels.)

 


Rolando Gomez.

 


Kole Calhoun.

 


Wes Hatton.

 


Gabe Jacobo.

 

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