Bases-loaded jams can be tense, but Jermaine Curtis of the Rochester Red Wings found it to be the best opportunity to clown a baserunner. The Twins’ Triple-A affiliate was down 4-3 to the Charlotte Knights in the fourth inning Tuesday when Curtis tested out the hidden-ball trick on Kevan Smith, who took one step off the bag before getting faked out.
The broadcast clip above didn’t capture the early part of the trick—after Curtis mimed a throw to reliever D.J. Baxendale, he played along and roamed near the mound as Curtis flashed the ball to the third base umpire so he knew to make the call.
The pitcher played a key part in Curtis’s sleight of hand. Since Baxendale couldn’t get set on the mound without the ball, he had to shuffle around and look harried. From MiLB.com:
“I come from a baseball family,” said the pitcher, whose father, Greg, has been a scout for Cleveland and a collegiate coach. “I’ve kind of been stressed with the rules, so I knew as soon as he kept the ball, I had to stay off the dirt and just kind of sell it, walk around, stretch a little bit, just do anything I can to make that guy take that extra step off, make him think I’m getting ready to pitch. I was probably 10 to 15 feet off the mound, and then making that slow walk up toward the mound, I think that made him feel comfortable over at third, just enough to take that step off.
“It all fell into place spontaneously.”
Curtis said after the game that he usually tries the hidden-ball trick “once or twice a year” in a big situation, which is cool, but it should be attempted by every team at least once a week.