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Inside Baseball

Measure your IQ for the game with test used at Worcester State

Growing up, Dirk Baker didn’t just play baseball — he studied it. He eagerly asked questions and talked strategy as a Boston U. student-athlete, soaking in any details that could give him an edge. That thirst for knowledge never faded. Now the Worcester State baseball coach for 22 years, Baker keeps a library of baseball books in his office, and penned several of his own. But perhaps the biggest testament to his lifelong study of the sport is his baseball IQ test.

Baker wanted to test student-athletes’ baseball smarts and arm them with knowledge to make wise decisions. “We’re always saying kids don’t know the game,” he says. “They play the game, but they don’t know the game.” So to teach them, the coach drafted a list of questions about baseball rules, strategy, advanced skills and history. The list started small but quickly ballooned. At times, Baker scribbled new nuggets on Post-It notes and napkins. The test now contains nearly 500 questions. 

Realizing that other coaches might find the test useful, Baker published the first iteration in 2010 and began selling it as a fundraiser for Lancers baseball. Within his own program, the test proved to be a helpful learning tool. “When something happens in a game that’s covered in the IQ test, there’s always a guy that says, ‘IQ test!’” Baker says. “These are just little things, but they can decide ballgames. … You wouldn’t believe how we’ve won some games with just smarts.”  

Baseball Intelligence Test

1. What’s the difference between obstruction and interference?

Obstruction is the act of a defensive player impeding the runner, whether or not it’s through contact. Interference is usually an offensive situation (e.g., offensive player crosses over home plate and interferes with the catcher’s throw), but can be defensive (e.g., catcher interference, where the mitt makes contact with the bat on a swing or the umpire interferes).

2. Why is baseball the only sport where coaches are required to wear uniforms?

Back in the day, the “captains” in charge usually ran the team (lineups, travel, gear, etc.). When players (past their prime) became coaches or managers in the dugout, they did not want to give up their uniform (thinking they were still good enough to play). Connie Mack of the Philadelphia A’s was the notable exception. By NCAA rule, any designated coach is supposed to be in uniform, as opposed to a trainer or groundskeeper.

3. Why shouldn’t a player slide into first base?

It slows you down, can lead to injury, and the batter/runner is allowed to run past the bag. It may be useful on a high throw (say from second base) that the runner can see in order to avoid a tag.

4. What can the middle infielders do on the catcher’s throw to second base on a first-and-third steal?

Cut in front of the throw to second base and fake a catch, letting the ball go to second, or cut the ball off and throw home (set up in front of the bag). The pitcher should slap his glove and look to third as the ball goes by.

5. What pitch should be thrown after a batter pulls a fastball foul?


6. Why do umpires set up on the inside corner of home plate?

The plate umpire wants to be on top of the strike and even with the inside of the plate. Plus, he’s more protected against a foul ball hit straight back. Setting up inside gives him a great perception of the top and inside plus a view of the outside.


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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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