The intentional walk was a ritual.
The hitter would tap the plate with his bat and sink into his stance and stare at the pitcher, ready to hit. Expecting to hit. At first, he wouldn’t see the catcher standing behind him extending an arm to the side. A white flag. The fans would boo.
The hitter would hear the fans and turn his head and look at the catcher and realize what was happening. And for a second, the hitter’s face would show contempt for the other team. And then he would get back in his stance and prepare to hit in case the pitcher and catcher were bluffing, and sometimes they were. And the hitter would watch the pitcher lob the ball six feet outside. And the fans would boo.
Sometimes, the pitcher would lob the ball too far outside or over the catcher’s head and the ball would roll to the backstop. And sometimes, the pitcher would lob the ball too far inside and the hitter would hit a home run. A lot of pressure on these pitches that seemed easy but weren’t. After the fourth one, the batter finally would jog to first base. And the fans would boo.
This ritual no longer exists in Major League Baseball.
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