Monday, September 1, 2014

Edward Flanagan - Ambidextrous pitcher

Edward Flanagan, Sr.
Edward Flanagan, Sr. (photo)
"Big Ed Flanagan"

Team: Boston Braves 1913

Position: Pitcher
Throws: Both (Ambidextrous)

Edward F. Flanagan Sr., signed his first professional baseball contract with the Boston Braves in 1913. He was a barnstormer who would pitch the first game right-handed and then pitch the nightcap left-handed. (

Ed Flanagan served as a police officer and raised a family of eight children in Manchester, New Hampshire. His son, Ed Flanagan, Jr. played in the minor leagues. His grandson, Mike Flanagan, won a Cy Young Award with the Orioles.

A story about Big Ed Flanagan shared by Peter Gammons ...

In 1987, Mike Flanagan was pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays, and we lunched at a wonderful outdoor Toronto cafe; with Roger Angell of the New Yorker. Flanagan told Angell how his grandfather, Big Ed Flanagan, and my uncle, Everett, played on teams from New Hampshire and the South Shore of Massachusetts, respectively, that toured New England on the weekends and drew good crowds. My uncle would pitch one game, his catcher would pitch the nightcap, and Big Ed Flanagan pitched both games -- one right-handed, the other left-handed.

Flanagans: A Baseball Family

by James Naughton, NY Times News Service
(The Dispatch, 19 July 1980)

It was a member of the court that the baseball education of Mike Flanagam began. The team's chief adviser and most ardent fan was Edward Fanagan Sr., the family patriarch who was in his 70s at the time. He had signed a professional baseball contract in 1913 and toured the country as an ambidextrous pitcher. When his teams played doubleheaders, which was often, he pitched the first game left-handed and the second game right-handed. He also made his won baseball with the leather rejected from a nearby textile mill.

Ed Flanagan Sr. had come to baseball before it was big business and he never made much money from it.
Read more


His son, Ed Flanagan Jr., signed with the Boston Red Sox in 1947 and pitched for five years in their minor-league system and one year with the Detroit system.

He played catch with his grandson, Mike Flanagan, who later pitched in the MLB and won the 1979 Cy Young Award.

Mike Flanagan was the ace of a Baltimore Orioles staff for over a decade. The 1979 Cy Young Award winner helped the Orioles to two World Series appearances and was part of a combined no-hitter in 1991. He relied on a repertoire of pitches, including a fastball, heavy sinker, slow curve, and changeup. (source:

Mike Flanagan, whose grandfather Ed Sr. and father Ed Jr. both played in the Red Sox organization, was voted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 1994. (source:


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Charley Freine ''Pitching Freak''

Charles Freine
1884-1971 (86 yo)
A Pitching Freak
NY Daily Tribune - March 20, 1910

High School: San Jose High School (1904-1905)

College: Santa Clara College (Class of 1910)

Minor League Teams: San Jose Prune Pickers, Philadelphia Athletics, Watsonville Pippins, Scranton Miners, Los Angeles Angels, Victoria Bees, Boise Irrigators, Tacoma Tigers, Nampa, Hollister Alpines, San Jose Elks, San Leandro Tractors, San Jose Bears

Postions: P, 1B, 3B, OF
Bats: Both
Throws: Both - ambidextrous

Charley Freine was a skilled ambidextrous baseball player in the early 1900's who could switch hit and throw well with both arms. He was called "A Pitching Freak" and "Marvelous Freak" in the news.

Freine pitched and played first base for Santa Clara College where he graduated in 1910. For many years, he played in the minor leagues  – as a pitcher, infielder, and outfielder.

News articles from the 1900s.

The Redwood - Santa Clara

Charley Freine, A. B., '10, the star first baseman of the 1905 and 1906 Baseball Varsity team, has developed into a theatrical magnate of the first water. Latest advices from him inform us that he is now the manager of the Orpheum Theatre in Nampa, Idaho. Charley has developed unsuspected talents. (source: The Redwood Oct 1913)

Howedege, the southpaw of the club, will pitch in Sunday's game and Charley Freine will take the mound in Monday's matinee. Freine has alway been considered a very clever twirler and not many years ago he wore a uniform of the Philadelphia Americans (Athletics).  (source: The Evening News )

Charley Freine gave Jerry a demonstration of pitching with two arms last Sunday and it took the catcher by storm as he never saw a player before who could do it and do it the way Freine can. Charley has speed galore with both arms and has even pitched games in the east against major league clubs in which he used both his arms to do it with. (source: The Evening News )

Mission Dope

The Mission league is an organization in which a groove ball pitcher will not get by and a few of them had to step out and acknowledge that the league was a bit too fast for them. The only pitchers that will get by are those that have good enough control to enable them to keep the ball away from the batters and cut the corners.

Charley Freine may go into the box and pitch for San Jose on Decoration Day and if Charley is right he will show that fans some real pitching. Freine was a fox in the box and if he can get the proper control he will make the batters in this league hustle to get by him. He has lots of smoke and a good break. (source: The Evening News )

Friene Goes to Philadelphia
July 19, 1909

Charley Friene has come to terms with Connie Mack and mailed back his contract. The Philadelphia Club will have in Friene a young pitcher of unusual ability. He is an ambidextrous thrower. There are very few pitchers who can shoot the ball over the plate with either hand, but Friene has done it. He has pitched part of a game with his right hand and finished up with his left. Friene usually pitches with his right.

   "He has pitched part of a game with his right hand and finished up with his left."

It is only when he is tiring or has some dangerous southpaw hitter that he smokes them over with his left. John Reilly discovered the youngster, who is a graduate of Santa Clara College, and recommended him to Connie Mack.

Friene was the star pitcher for the Watsonville team last season, being largely responsible for the winning of the pennant by the Pippin town.

Errors Behind Charles Freine Give San Jose Victory Over Watsonville
[Special Dispatch to The Call] 

WATSONVILLE, Oct 16, 1910.— San Jose tied Watsonville today for the first place, in the three C league when the Watsonville Pippins practically threw, the game-away. Charles Freine of the Philadelphia Athletics pitched for Watsonville and would have had San Jose at his mercy had not his teammates booted the ball all over the lot.
(source: San Francisco Call, 17 October 1910)

Altoona Tribune from Altoona, Pennsylvania · March 17, 1910, Page 10

Trying Out a Man Who is a Physical Wonder in the Pitcher's Box.
Tosses the Horsehide With Equal Strength With Right or Left Hand.

Charles Freine, the boy from the Pacific coast whom Connie Mack is trying 'out down here for a regular position in his flock of pennant-chasing pitchers is a physical freak. Not that Freine possesses any physical peculiarities.

Freine isn't, that kind of a freak. To the casual observer he is nothing more or less than an ordinary human being, but, just the same, nature must have got mixed in her signals when she turned out Freine.
I dont' know why it is, but nature seems to have contracted the habit of turning out specimens of humanity with only one useful upper limb, the other one merely being hung on the off side of the human frame for the purpose of symmetry and as a sort of accessory to the useful arm in such emergencies as hugging a girl on the parlor sofa, et cetera.
(source: Altoona Tribune 1910)

Sporting Life, March 26, 1910
“Connie Mack’s California recruit, Charles Freine, the southpaw pitcher, is a real base ball freak. He can pitch equally well with either hand. He can also bat finely from either the right or left side and is a corking good outfielder.”

New York Daily Tribune, March 20, 1910, page 10

A Pitching Freak. Freine Can Burn Ball Over with Either Arm.

“Connie Mack, manager of the Philadelphia club of the American League, has a real true ambidextrous pitcher on his staff. Charles Freine is the youngster’s name and he comes from the Pacific Coast in an effort to fight his way into big league company. The story goes that Freine can pitch equally well with either arm and change from one delivery to the other on the stand, to the complete mystification of the batter. Many ball players can use either arm for throwing or bat left or right handed, but not with the equal effectiveness. Freine will be a novelty if the wondrous tale is not exaggerated.” 
(source: NY Daily Tribune - pdf)

College Team Is in Great Form and Has High Hopes of a Victory
[Special Dispatch to The San Francisco Call]

SANTA CLARA, March 6, 1909.— Charley Comiskey and his famous White Sox will, be the guests of the Santa Clara college nine at Luna park, San Jose, on Tuesday afternoon. All the preparations have been completed for the big game and the collegians have high hopes of either trimming the American leaguers or at least holding them down to a tight. score. 

The college nine is In great form and Coach Tom Kelly is confident that his charges will make a better showing against the big fellows than the San Francisco Seals did last Friday afternoon. Thus far, Santa Clara has played ten games. Nine of these were victories.. The only defeat registered against the team is credited to Stanford University.

The college team'is said to be faster this year' than ever before. The boys have been hitting the ball, right on the nose, and they promise to make the big league pitchers sweat when they line up on Tuesday afternoon. With Charley Freine, their crack twirler in grand form, they hope to spring a big surprise on Comiskey and his gang.
(source: San Francisco Call, March 7, 1909)

March 20, 1905

Clever Collegians Outplay Cardinal Nine in the Fifth and Decisive Game
[Special Dispatch to The San Francisco Call]

SANTA CLARA, March 20, 1909.— The fifth and deciding game of the Stanford - Santa Clara series was played on the college diamond this afternoon before an enthusiastic bunch of rooters from both colleges. The Santa Claras out classed the Stanford team at every stage, the boys from the Jesuit college putting xip an exhibition that would do credit to a big league aggregation. Charley Freine pitched his usual heady game and was most effective at the critical moments, while Theile was unsteady throughout.
(source: San Francisco Call, March 21, 1909)

September 19, 1905

Santa Cruz Sentinel from Santa Cruz, California · Page 7

Freine Pitched Good Ball. 
Charley Freine, the Williams' star slabster then took the rubber, but was unable to improve matters as the locals had their bludgeons tuned up to the handle and used them with  murderous effect on the floaters he offered on the altar of sacrifice. His support, however, was as holy as Swiss cheese and when the curtain rang down he took to the tall timber. The combined result of the bombardment gave Santa Cruz a total of ten runs and to the man up in the tree it looked as though the visitors were sadly up against it.
(source: Santa Cruz Sentinel 1905)

SJ Prunepickers Baseball Team
San Jose Prune pickers Baseball Team

Luna Park "once was home to a merry-go-round, a roller coaster, rodeo grounds and - most important - a baseball diamond for the fledgling San Jose Prune Pickers minor league team which debuted in 1907, the San Jose Mercury News reported in December 1999. The major league Chicago White Sox also held spring training games there against Santa Clara College.


Learn more about Charley Freine ..

Here's an interesting feature on Charley Freine from - that I found while searching for historical information about ambidextrous pitchers.
The toast of the Philadelphia Athletics spring training camp in 1910, Charles Freine is referred to as a “Marvelous Freak” by the media because he is an ambidextrous pitcher ... despite his sudden national fame, Freine will never pitch an inning in a major league regular season game.
Read More (pdf)

Charles Freine -

Pitcher Freine is Marvelous Freak Can Pitch Equally Well witch Either Hand
Philadelphia Inquirer, March 15, 1910

The Balk Rule

MLB rulebook - Section 8.01

Inside the rules: the balk

NOVEMBER 12, 2010 BY DAVID WADE | The Hardball Times

Section 8.01 of the MLB rulebook covers the legal pitching delivery and states the purpose of the balk rule. The balk is there to keep a pitcher from deceiving baserunners. It elaborates on the that point and states, “If there is doubt in the umpire’s mind, the ‘intent’ of the pitcher should govern.” While one may wonder how umpires can determine the thought process of a player, the rules do attempt to spell out every scenario for them.
Read More

Official Rules: 8:00 The Pitcher

Legal pitching delivery. There are two legal pitching positions, the Windup Position and the Set Position, and either position may be used at any time.

Pitchers shall take signs from the catcher while standing on the rubber.

Rule 8.01 Comment: Pitchers may disengage the rubber after taking their signs but may not step quickly onto the rubber and pitch. This may be judged a quick pitch by the umpire. When the pitcher disengages the rubber, he must drop his hands to his sides.
Pitchers will not be allowed to disengage the rubber after taking each sign.

(a) The Windup Position. The pitcher shall stand facing the batter, his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and the other foot free. From this position any natural movement associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without interruption or alteration. He shall not raise either foot from the ground, except that in his actual delivery of the ball to the batter, he may take one step backward, and one step forward with his free foot.
When a pitcher holds the ball with both hands in front of his body, with his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and his other foot free, he will be considered in the Windup Position.
Rule 8.01(a) Comment: In the Windup Position, a pitcher is permitted to have his “free” foot on the rubber, in front of the rubber, behind the rubber or off the side of the rubber.
From the Windup Position, the pitcher may:
(1) deliver the ball to the batter, or
(2) step and throw to a base in an attempt to pick-off a runner, or
(3) disengage the rubber (if he does he must drop his hand to his sides).
In disengaging the rubber the pitcher must step off with his pivot foot and not his free foot first.
He may not go into a set or stretch position—if he does it is a balk.

(b) The Set Position. Set Position shall be indicated by the pitcher when he stands facing the batter with his pivot foot in contact with, and his other foot in front of, the pitcher’s plate, holding the ball in both hands in front of his body and coming to a complete stop. From such Set Position he may deliver the ball to the batter, throw to a base or step backward off the pitcher’s plate with his pivot foot. Before assuming Set Position, the pitcher may elect to make any natural preliminary motion such as that known as “the stretch.” But if he so elects, he shall come to Set Position before delivering the ball to the batter. After assuming Set Position, any natural motion associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without alteration or interruption.
Preparatory to coming to a set position, the pitcher shall have one hand on his side; from this position he shall go to his set position as defined in Rule 8.01(b) without interruption and in one continuous motion.
The pitcher, following his stretch, must (a) hold the ball in both hands in front of his body and (b) come to a complete stop. This must be enforced. Umpires should watch this closely. Pitchers are constantly attempting to “beat the rule” in their efforts to hold runners on bases and in cases where the pitcher fails to make a complete “stop” called for in the rules, the umpire should immediately call a “Balk.”
Rule 8.01(b) Comment: With no runners on base, the pitcher is not required to come to a complete stop when using the Set Position. If, however, in the umpire’s judgment, a pitcher delivers the ball in a deliberate effort to catch the batter off guard, this delivery shall be deemed a quick pitch, for which the penalty is a ball. See Rule 8.05(e) Comment.
(c) At any time during the pitcher’s preliminary movements and until his natural pitching motion commits him to the pitch, he may throw to any base provided he steps directly toward such base before making the throw.
Rule 8.01(c) Comment: The pitcher shall step “ahead of the throw.” A snap throw followed by the step directly toward the base is a balk.
(d) If the pitcher makes an illegal pitch with the bases unoccupied, it shall be called a ball unless the batter reaches first base on a hit, an error, a base on balls, a hit batter or otherwise.
Rule 8.01(d) Comment: A ball which slips out of a pitcher’s hand and crosses the foul line shall be called a ball; otherwise it will be called no pitch. This would be a balk with men on base.
(e) If the pitcher removes his pivot foot from contact with the pitcher’s plate by stepping backward with that foot, he thereby becomes an infielder and if he makes a wild throw from that position, it shall be considered the same as a wild throw by any other infielder.
Rule 8.01(e) Comment: The pitcher, while off the rubber, may throw to any base. If he makes a wild throw, such throw is the throw of an infielder and what follows is governed by the rules covering a ball thrown by a fielder.

MLB rulebook - Section 8.01