The Centre Daily Times in Pennsylvania has profiled Al Bumbry as the former Oriole prepares to be an honorary manager for the New York-Penn League All-Star Game.
The article primarily focuses on changes in the game as seen from Bumbry’s perspective, but there’s also an interesting anecdote in there about Bumbry’s Vietnam service as a first lieutenant, which earned him a Bronze Star.
On the baseball side, Bumbry bemoans bad baserunning and manages not to mention the Orioles’ problems in that department even once. Must have something to do with his public relations work for the O’s that’s also mentioned in the article.
[Bumbry on baserunning after the jump.]
Bumbry’s pet peeve is baserunning and you can understand why.
Not only was the 1980 American League All-Star an excellent baserunner during his career, he was also an outfield and baserunning instructor for three major league teams.
On most nights in the NY-PL and other leagues, it’s common to see a runner picked off or thrown out trying to take an extra base.
“When it came to teaching baserunning …,” Bumbry started before stopping to shake his head. “It was hard to convince guys on how to be good baserunners and how that could contribute to the end results of games. Of all of the complaints that I’ve heard from over the years — from admin people, fans or coaches, is the lack of attention and detail to baserunning.
“When you think about it, being a good baserunner translates into offensive statistics that’s going to contribute to your contract.”
Bumbry said a willingness to learn and observe the game is the key to baserunning. Knowing the opposing defense, reading game situations and the ball can make a difference between being safe or out.
Speed isn’t always the difference maker. Bumbry points to former teammate Cal Ripken, who wasn’t the fleetest of foot, but was recognized as an excellent baserunner.
“Cal could be running and size up a ball hit to the outfield as he’s running and make his decision on what he could do or not do on how the ball was first hit,” Bumbry said.
Bumbry says too many runners want to watch the play, instead of run. He uses runners rounding third and heading to the plate as a perfect example.
“If you see it 10 times, I bet you eight of those 10 guys looks back to see where the ball is,” he said. “For what? The ball is coming to the plate. You don’t need to look back to see where the ball is or what kind of throw the guy is making. It’s like they can’t make themselves run hard until they see the desperation. As opposed to when I ran, I ran with desperation all of the damn time.”
Image source: Here.