An outfielder from the independent Atlantic professional baseball league (ALPB) made history on Saturday in Maryland by becoming the first baseball player to steal first base in a professional game.
During a game between the Southern Blue Crabs of Maryland and the Lancaster Barnstormers, Tony Thomas, 33, was at bat in the bottom of the sixth inning when a roving throw bounced behind the receiver and to the top.
Thanks to a new change of experimental rules in the Atlantic League, he was able to steal first and make history.
The rule stated that hitters can "steal" first base on any throw that has not been caught on the flight and the batter can be sent off if he tries to run, according to an MLB / ALPB press release describing the changes .
"It was just something I never thought I would be a part of," said Thomas. "The [pitcher] I was on the mound, it was not consistent in the strike zone and I found a way to put our team in the base and the opportunity was presented. It was not something I thought I would go into, but when I saw the ball stuck under the bottom, I knew I had no chance of getting out of first base, so I left and left. "
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He continued: "In the process of looking back to see where the ball was, I really saw [the catcher] Anderson puts his hand in the umpire for the ball because it is [usually an] automatic passed ball. I saw him submerge and I took off because I knew that at that moment in the game our team needed base runners ".
The outfielder came to first base without a throw from the catcher in a 0-1 count.
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Other rule debuts in the independent league included the use of electronic attack zones, which have been labeled "robot referees". In the stellar game of the Atlantic League, last Wednesday, the home plate umpire had a headset connected to an iPhone that was tracking balls and attacking using the radar.
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Other changes include moving the pitcher's mound backward to increase offensive production and allowing a player to shoot a foul on two strikes before it is called. In the MLB, if a player throws the foul to the ball in two strikes, it is automatically excluded.
"We need to see how it works, first in the Atlantic League and then in other places, that is, in other parts of the minor league baseball, before it is Major League Baseball. We could make it work, and that's what we're doing, "said Manfred.