A batter has stolen first base for the first team in baseball history.
Yes, you read that right. On Saturday, an Atlantic League batter stole first base, marking the first time the feat has ever been accomplished.
During the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs’ game against the Lancaster Barnstormers, Tony Thomas became the first player to ever steal first.
Per the Washington Post, this is how stealing first base works.
Any pitch on any count not caught in flight will be considered a live ball, and a batter may run to first base, similar to a dropped third strike.
So, when Alejandro Chacin’s 0-1 pitch went to the backstop it became a live ball giving Thomas the opportunity to dash to first base. Under normal circumstances, the count would be 1-1. Instead, Thomas was ruled safe at first with no outs.
Thomas would end up coming around to give the Blue Crabs its first run of the game. Per the official scoring sheet, Thomas’ steal of first is recorded as a fielder’s choice because of the ability for the catcher to make a throw.
— SoMD Blue Crabs (@BlueCrabs) July 14, 2019
This is not the first rule change coming in the Atlantic League
The Atlantic League, which entered a partnership with Major League Baseball in February, is currently testing all sorts of rule changes this season, including the use of the electronic strike zone, otherwise known as “robot umpires.”
The electronic strike zone made its debut earlier in the week during the Atlantic League’s All-Star game. The home plate umpire wore an earpiece connected to an iPhone in his pocket which relayed ball and strike calls after receiving them from a TrackMan computer system utilizing a Doppler radar.
It is unclear if Saturday’s game also employed the use of the electronic strike zone, however, its implementation is expected to take place league wide in the coming weeks.
Following the 2019 season, MLB will review the data of the rule changes and determine the best way to move forward.
Other changes expected to take place include a mound that is further back.
Still, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred was quick to pump the brakes on changes like the electronic strike zone making their way to MLB games.
Following the Atlantic League All-Star game Manfred told the AP:
"We need to see how it works, first in the Atlantic League and then probably other places, meaning other parts of minor league baseball, before it comes to Major League Baseball. We kind of feel it's incumbent on us to figure out whether we could make it work. And that's what we're doing."
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