Before a half-inning begins, remember to check the field and backstop for stray baseballs. That’s especially important before the top of the first inning. Teams often use old, discolored baseballs for infield, outfield and batting practice.
Those “experienced” balls can sometimes blend in with the warning track, grass and other areas surrounding the field. The last thing you want is a fielder inadvertently (or purposely, for that matter) picking up one of those strays and throwing it to make a play on a runner.
Or, consider the potential for injury. A ball lurking in the grass is a situation where an outfielder running at full speed could step on it and twist an ankle, or worse, slides on the ball and tears a hamstring or ACL. No official wants that to happen to any of the athletes competing. Nor do you want to want to be concerned about potential liability issues you could face from an accident like that.
If you’ve been busy between innings recording lineup changes or getting a drink of water, you can miss seeing a warmup pitch thrown to the backstop. That’s an even bigger recipe for disaster since it’s a game ball and could easily be confused for the one that’s supposed to be in play.
While you need to trust the game participants, you never know if one of the players will choose to play a trick, have some fun, or accidentally pick a stray ball up and launch it to a teammate. Be safe and take extra time to give the field a quick eye combing so any extra balls are removed from the playing field. You’ll be glad you did.
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