I doubt I’m the only one in the world who can do this, but I can usually tell where a ball is heading by the way it sounds coming off the bat. During batting practice, I sometimes have to ignore the batter for a pitch or two to label a ball that I just caught. While I’m looking down, I listen for the crack of the bat, and I know whether or not I need to look up. There’s a distinct difference in the sound between a ball that’s pulled versus one that’s hit to the opposite field.
(Is this freaking you out? Tell me you can do this, too.)
Foul tips have their own special sound. I can’t really describe it—it’s more of a click than a crack—but I definitely know when one is coming. In 1999, back when I was a junior at Guilford College, a reporter from the Greensboro News & Record went with me to a minor league game. I took him out into the parking lot behind home plate just in time for the first pitch and told him I wasn’t going back inside until I got a foul ball. He started asking me why it was a good spot and how many I’ve caught and how long I thought it was going to take, and I started explaining my strategy.
What happened next?
And please keep in mind that my grand total of 2,653 does NOT include minor league (or spring training) balls.