OMAHA, Neb. — It’s been said that the catcher is the quarterback of a baseball team.
These days, some catchers are looking more like their football counterparts with the playbook wristbands they wear.
South Carolina catcher Grayson Greiner wears a wristband on his left arm that has a grid chart listing number combinations corresponding with specific pitches signaled to him from the dugout.
Pitching coach Jerry Meyers uses his hands to flash three numbers at Greiner, who then relays the information to the pitcher through more traditional pitcher-catcher finger signs.
”We’ve been using it the last three or four years because such an emphasis has been put on picking signs and relaying locations and all those things that happen,” Meyers said.
South Carolina’s system is built with software designed by Oregon-based Own The Zone Sports. Coaches tell the computer what pitches they want to use, and the computer spits out a grid that assigns a different number combination for every single pitch.
There could be 25 different combinations, for instance, for an inside fastball. Ideally, no same combination would be used more than once in a game.
Here’s how it works: Meyers might flash 324 at Greiner. Greiner looks to find the first two numbers, 32, on the top row of the chart. He then goes down four squares, the 4, to locate the desired pitch.
He then lets the pitcher know the call. Only the catcher wears the wristband.
Meyers said the Gamecocks get their catchers comfortable with the system during fall practices.
”When you put someone back there that hasn’t caught in a while, it can slow it down,” Meyers said. ”Grayson Greiner, Dante Rosenberg, they’re pretty quick with it.”
More than 300 colleges use the system, according to the Own The Zone Sports’ website.
The system also works for offensive signs so the opponent can’t figure out signals flashed by the third-base coach to batters and baserunners.
‘Everybody is paranoid about people trying to pick up their signs,” Meyers said.