Winning Ways – Pitchers, Catchers And Good Communication

Darrell Smith, IAC President

If you’ve never been to a baseball game on a warm summer evening, you don’t know what you’re missing. There’s something magical about the entire experience, from the sound of a baseball slapping into a well-used glove to the smell of vendors hawking food in the stands. There’s a reason that baseball has been known as America’s pastime for more than a century.

The next time you go to a game, keep an eye on the interaction between the pitcher and the catcher. It’s hard to argue that the most important defensive player on a baseball team is the pitcher, but did you know that he could not do his job without good communication with the catcher? On the surface, it may seem like he is just throwing the ball and it is the catcher’s job to snag it, but that could not be further from the truth.

Catching a slider, for example, is not easy – especially if you’re not ready for it. Imagine someone throwing you a baseball at 80 miles per hour that seems to change direction at the last minute. Unless you know in advance which direction the ball is going to move, you’re going to have a hard time grabbing it. Likewise, if a pitcher just throws whatever pitch he wants and leaves it to the catcher to guess what is coming, there will be many, many dropped pitches (and consequently many, many stolen bases).

To address this issue, the catcher uses subtle hand signals to tell his teammate on the mound what kind of pitch to throw next. Why does the catcher give the signals and not the pitcher? Because the batter can see the pitcher, but not the catcher, and it’s important to keep those signals secret (for obvious reasons). In fact, when a runner is on second base – the perfect vantage point for watching a catcher and pitcher exchange signals – it’s not uncommon to see the catcher walk to the pitcher’s mound to change up the “code.”

So while a pitcher might be the most important player on a baseball team’s defense, he cannot do his job without the catcher – and neither of them can succeed without great communication and collaboration. It’s the same way in any business. If the sales team doesn’t tell the production team what they are doing – or vice versa – somebody is going to drop the ball.

The thing is, everybody shares responsibility for those dropped balls – just like in baseball. And just like in baseball (or any other sport, for that matter), good communication is everybody’s job. All communication is important. Make sure your team is on the same page, and you’ll win a lot more games.