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Pepper is a common pre-game exercise where one player hits brisk grounders and line drives to a group of fielders who are standing around twenty feet away. The fielders throw to the batter who uses a short, light swing to hit the ball on the ground back towards the fielders. The fielders field the ground balls and continue tossing the ball to the batter. This exercise keeps the fielders and batter alert, and helps to develop quickness and good hand-eye coordination.
Pepper is also a competitive game in which a group of fielders stand in a line fifteen to twenty feet away from a batter; one end of the line is the "front," the other is the "back." One of the fielders throws the ball to the batter, who attempts to hit grounders to the fielders standing in the line. When a fielder cleanly plays the ball, he/she throws it back to the batter, generally as quickly as possible, who tries to hit the ball again to the fielders. If the fielder makes an error fielding the ball, he/she must move to the back of the line. If the batter hits a foul ball (generally, hits it behind him/her) or strikes swinging at the ball, he/she is retired as batter, becomes a fielder, and moves to the end of the line. The fielder at the front of the line then becomes the batter. If the batter hits a line drive or pop-up to the fielders, whoever catches the ball, regardless of their position in the line, becomes the new batter; the batter moves to the end of the line.
Some ballparks have banned pepper games because of the danger of balls landing in the stands and injuring spectators or because its concentrated play damages the grass on the field. Many ballparks display "NO PEPPER" warnings behind or near home plate.
- Major League Baseball lingo
- A group of ballplayers playing the competitive pepper game
- A group of Brooklyn Cyclones display the competitive pepper game
- An instructor demonstrates the pepper exercise