Monday, April 5, 2010

A Brief History of Switch Pitchers

Tony "The Count" Mullane -
 Baltimore Orioles/Chicago White Stockings (1882)
Mullane was baseball's first ambidextrous pitcher and a talented ballplayer who played every position in the field except catcher.  Mullane who turned pro in 1880, would go on to win 285 career games. The Count won 30 games in five consecutive seasons. According to reports, it was on July 18, 1882, that Mullane first pitched with both arms in a game - bare handed! 
More about Tony Mullane
Larry Corcoran - 
Chicago White Stockings (1884)
Corcoran pitched using both arms in a game between Chicago and Buffalo. He alternated arms pitching, for four innings, before switching positions to shortstop.
More about Larry Corcoran
Elton "Icebox" Chamberlain -
 Louisville Colonels (1888)
Chamberlain threw with both arms during an American Association game between Louisville and Kansas City on May 9, 1888. He pitched only two innings in the game. 
More about Icebox Chamberlain
Paul Richards -
 Muskogee Chiefs (1925)
Richards pitched with both hands on July 23, 1925, for the Muskogee Chiefs. Called to the mound from his shortstop position, he pitched both right-handed and left-handed. At one point, he faced a switch-hitter, which briefly resulted in both pitcher and batter switching hands and batter's boxes, respectively. Richards broke the stalemate by alternating hands with each pitch, regardless of where the batter positioned himself. 
More about Paul Richards
Greg Harris -
 Montreal Expos (1995)
At the age of 39, Montreal Expos pitcher Greg Harris entered a September 28, 1995, game against the Cincinnati Reds in the ninth inning and pitched with both arms. He prevented the Reds from scoring, but the Expos ultimately lost the game. 
More about Greg Harris
Matt Brunnig - 
Harvard University (2003)
In 2003, Harvard manager Joe Walsh said, "Someday he's going to be our No. 1 starter and our No. 3 starter as well." A natural right-hander, Brunnig honed his lefty skills at age 6 with help from his father, John, who's a chiropractor. John Brunnig said he worked on his son's switch-pitching for two reasons: to keep Matt's body in as perfect balance as possible; and because he would be coveted by major-league teams. Brunnig was nicknamed "The Freak" by Harvard teammates because he could throw 85 mph left-handed and 90 mph right-handed. 
More about Matt Brunnig

Pat Venditte - 
Creighton University (2008), NY Yankees (2008-)
In 2006, Pat Venditte pitched as a reliever using both arms for the Creighton Bluejays. Following his college career, Venditte was drafted by the Yankees in the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft.
On March 30, 2010, minor leaguer Venditte showed off his ambidextrous talents for the New York Yankees, giving up one run in 1-1/3 innings during a 9-6 split-squad loss to the Atlanta Braves. 
More about Pat Venditte

Drew Vettleson -
 Central Kitsap HS (2010), Tampa Bay Rays (2010-)
Central Kitsap High School senior Drew Vettleson, who has committed to Oregon State University, was selected No. 42 overall by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2010 Major League Draft. Possessing both elite hitting skills as well as the ability to switch pitch, Drew Vettleson is the rare draft prospect that garners national attention for both flash and substance. 
More about Drew Vettleson

Ryan Perez -
 Westminster Christian HS (2012), Judson University (2013-15), Cleveland Indians (2015-)
Ryan Perez was the first ambidextrous pitcher who could throw 90 mph with either arm. Perez was also a solid switch hitter in high school when he helped his team win a state championship. Perez was 3-years-old when his dad encouraged him to toss rocks into a pond with both arms. In 2015, Perez was drafted by the Cleveland Indians after 3 years as a switch pitcher for Judson University in Illinois. 
More about Ryan Perez

Aubrey McCarty -
  Coquitt County HS, Moultrie, GA (Class of 2013)
McCarty started pitching both ways when he was 11-years-old. He is naturally left-handed, but learned to play baseball right-handed. Aubrey McCarty was a standout ambidextrous pitcher and switch hitter in high school when he signed a letter of intent with Vanderbilt as a two-way player. In 2013, McCarty was drafted by the SF Giants, but he opted for a college education and is now playing for the Commodores.

Henry Knight -
 Franklin HS, Seattle (Class of 2015)
A natural righty, Henry Knight started throwing left-handed when he turned 9-years-old – proving that anyone who puts in the practice can learn to throw with both hands.  At age 14, he became a starter on varsity – as a switch pitcher and infielder – during his freshman year at Franklin High School. 

In 2013, Knight threw 9 scoreless innings as a switch pitcher, while pitching 11-innings in a game for the Columbia City Reds. He threw 94 strikes, including 87% first pitch strikes, while averaging 11 pitches per inning.

Knight throws 75% strikes from both sides, using a fastball, two-seamer, curveball, cutter, circle changeup and splitter. Knight is also a .500 switch hitter – swinging a wood bat since Little League
More about Henry Knight

Sources: The Seattle Times, and Wikipedia

A History of Switch Pitching by Cheryl Wright, SoSH 13 May 2015

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