Baseball is set apart from other sports by many things, but few are more distinctive than the intricate systems of coded language that govern action on the field and give baseball its unique appeal. During a nine‑inning game, more than one thousand silent instructions are given—from catcher to pitcher, coach to batter, fielder to fielder, umpire to umpire—and without this speechless communication the game would simply not be the same. Baseball historian Paul Dickson examines the rich legacy of baseball’s hidden language, offering fans everywhere a smorgasbord of history and anecdote.
Baseball’s tradition of signing grew out of the signal flags used by ships and hand signals used by soldiers during battle and were first used in games during the Civil War. The Hartford Dark Blues appear to be the first team to steal signs, introducing a larcenous obsession that, as Dickson delightfully chronicles, has given the game some of its most historic—and outlandish—moments.
In this revised and expanded edition through the 2018 season, Dickson discusses recent developments and incidents, including the illegal use of new technology to swipe signs. A roster of baseball’s greatest names and games, past and present, echoes throughout, making The Hidden Language of Baseball a unique window on the history of our national pastime.