SIGN STEALING in Youth Baseball, REALLY?!

AdviceThe Dirt
Sign Stealing in Youth Baseball ||


What the heck, people?!?!
Did that really just happen at a kids’ baseball game?

We’re about a month into the 2016 travel season now. This past weekend we traveled to a large tournament and this is SECOND time this season that someone has stolen our coach’s pitch signs to the catcher. My son was on the mound both times, both during the Championship game.

Since this has happened to us twice in less than a month from two different organizations, I just had to address this with my son. He said he could clearly hear them, an adult, calling out the pitches while he was on the mound. He held his composure and pitched both games very well, seemingly unaffected by it. I was impressed, but not-so-much with Mr. Cheatypants Signstealer. Our coach called out the sign stealer in the first game. He asked them to stop and kindly reminded them that it is a kid’s game. Coach switched signals just in case he wasn’t clearly heard or misunderstood. Luckily, neither instances negatively effected the outcome of our games. 

Real baseball players steal bases, not signs. Tshirt Mockup -

Real baseball players steal bases, not signs

But what if the sign stealers did win?

That’s exactly one of the messages I didn’t want my son to get. Unfortunately, there’s no official baseball rule that was broken. Crazy, isn’t it? What I’m most upset about is that it was done in an atmosphere where coaches and adults are trusted to teach and guide these young people by their example. Mr. Cheatypants just taught his team and those around him that you can disrespect the opponent, play unsportsmanlike and not have consequences for their actions. I think part of teaching baseball is the gamesmanship that is baseball. 


Teachable moments

Every moment can be a teachable one. Big game, little game – doesn’t matter. My husband and I are constantly trying to teach our kids to do the right thing…and then something like this happens. A teachable moment indeed, but I wish it had been a positive one. I have to say that I’m disappointed with the adults. If you teach kids that it’s okay to cheat on the field, then they might think that it’s okay to cheat for anything else in life. The kids could take away that if you really want something bad enough, you can cheat to get it. You may end up with the ‘trophy’, but it won’t be well deserved for sure. The kids are watching…let’s be sure to teach them the right way.


Good Sports, Good People

These games are intense, especially at this level. People are traveling from out of state, both kids and parents have made many sacrifices to get there, kids have worked hard to make the travel team. There is a lot of pressure to win. I would encourage the coaches to take all of these experiences as teachable moments. Good sportsmanship can carry over to a lot of things off the field too. I want to teach my kids to be fair and to work for their achievements. They can be proud of their hard work. Besides, these kids are still learning the game. Teaching them to steal signs is not something that will benefit them at the end of the day. 

And mind you, I am fully aware that this happens A LOT and at all levels – and by the kids themselves. This is an ugly side of the un-written rules of the game. Just because it’s possible, doesn’t mean you should do it. I just was annoyed that it was an adult doing the cheating for the kids to try to get the win.

Those who want respect, give respect.  Respect the game, respect each other. It’s not that hard.

Life is full of ‘take away’ experiences. Our take away from this experience is to be the better person. Play fair at all times – in all aspects of life.


Sign stealing in youth baseball. Turning it into a positive teachable moment with your kids.


See you at the fields! 

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