Overhand or Underhand?


Two young baseball players, new to the team (if not quite to the game) found themselves in deep disagreement one day over the proper way to throw a baseball.


“Overhand!” insisted the team’s new shortstop. “That’s the best way – the only way. It gets there faster, and you can throw it farther. Underhand just doesn’t cut it.”

“Underhand is best!” argued the second baseman. “You’ve got more control. It goes where you want it to, and it’s easier for your teammate to catch.”

Neither would give an inch.





This went on for some time.

At last, the coach had reached her limit for unreasoned discussion – or, well, argument. She told the players to take to the diamond for some fielding practice. As the infielders and outfielders took their positions, she told one of the other players to stand on first base.

“Here’s the situation,” she called to the team. “We’ve got one out, and there’s a runner on first. That could be the tying run in this game. So we’ve got to get these runners out!”

She stepped up to the plate with bat and ball, and hit a scorching ground ball between second base and third. The shortstop ran to intercept it, caught it neatly, and she looked to where the second basement was running to cover the bag as the runner took off from first.

The second baseman was close. Really close. So the shortstop – the overhand thrower – tossed the ball underhand to the second baseman just as his foot tapped the bag. One out.

Now the second baseman – the underhand thrower – spun to look toward first base. The coach was sprinting down the base path, making for first. So he cocked his arm back, and fired a fast straight throw (overhand!) to the first baseman, who caught it just before the coach’s foot could come down on the bag.

Double play!

All the players hooted and hollered their congratulations, and the coach walked over to the wondering pair who’d just reversed their argument in a fraction of a second.

“It’s not about one way to do things,” she told them. “There’s a place and a time for underhand, and a place and a time for overhand. You just need to learn which is which.

“Now, play ball!”

Baseball image by Hector Rodriguez – originally posted to Flickr as Baseball, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10178609

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