Friday, June 22, 2012

Stories about Switch Pitchers

Henry Knight (2015) - Seattle, Washington

"H" is a switch hitter and ambidextrous pitcher for the Franklin Quakers and Columbia City Reds. He started on varsity as a 14-year-old, plays shortstop right-handed and serves as a relief pitcher. By mid-season he recorded a win and a 1.08 ERA was a switch pitcher.

The Columbia City Reds swept the Dow Memorial Day Tournament, in Redmond (home of Microsoft), where Henry pitched five innings to close out the championship game - winning 3-2 in ten innings. He averaged nine pitches per inning, thanks to very solid defense by the Reds.

Alex Adami (2008) - Thornwood, New York

Alex Adami of Thornwood first became a switch-pitcher (throwing with each hand) when he was at Iona Prep, and he's still at it as a star reliever for SUNY Binghamton.

At Prep, the right-hander-turned-switch-pitcher was an All-Bronx/Westchester honoree who had an 8-2 record and 0.93 earned run average his senior year. Perfect Game recorded his fastball as 90 mph right-handed.

Ambidextrous pitcher make appearance in relief of himself
Iona Prep's Alex Adami started and finished his own game yesterday, switching arms in the course of six two-hit innings, to beat Scarsdale, 2-1. Adami pitched the five innings right-handed, left the mound for the sixth, then returned to pitch the seventh left-handed. Adami struck out nine right-handed and the first batter he faced pitching left-handed.

"They were all pretty much in shock," Adami told The Journal News. "When I went out there throwing left-handed, and struck out the first kid on four pitches, their whole team was like, 'Whoa, what just happened?'"

Although he previously experimented throwing from both sides, this was the first time he pitched both righty and lefty in a high school game. At the plate, Adami had a double and a triple and scored a run.

Adami still switch-pitching, still succeeding at Binghamton - May 15, 2011

Jamie Irving (1993) - Harvard

     Jamie Irving is relieving himself ...

During one less-than-memorable game in Johnstown, Rouch uttered a famous line about ambidextrous pitcher Jamie Irving, who was pitching left-handed until late in the game, when he decided to start an inning throwing right-handed.

When Rouch realized what was happening, he told his radio audience, "Jamie Irving is relieving himself on the mound with his right hand." Not once, but twice.

Rouch, who has terrific sense of humor, still jokes about that call. 

-- from Chris Dugan, Wild about Things

Pat Venditte (2004) - Omaha, Nebraska
In 2012, Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venitte was playing in the minor leagues. 

Pat Venditte throws with both arms out of necessity.
“For me to even get here it took pitching left-handed and right-handed,” he confessed. “I don’t have overpowering stuff. To have that advantage, and to say that I’d have the same success without it, would be foolish.”
“It’s almost like watching two complete different pitchers because the mechanics are so totally different,” added Ware. “All the charts are P. Venditte ‘R’ and P. Venditte ‘L.’ I treat him like two totally different pitchers. You know its one guy but you still have to treat him like its two different pitchers.”
-- from Two Pitchers in One by John Strubel

Yu Darvish - Texas Rangers
Don't expect to see any type of switch pitching on the mound for Yu Darvish, but this is still pretty interesting. As if 10-12 pitches wasn't enough for right-handed-pitcher Darvish, he can throw 82 mph...left handed. (JP Starkey,

On Yu Darvish warming up left handed:
"He’ll throw in between starts left-handed. He does that to keep some balance. He’s the only guy that’s balanced, I guess because I’ve never seen anybody else do it. It’s kind of unique, and it’s kind of interesting so it’s worked for him.” - Rangers president Nolan Ryan (Dallas News)

Jeff Schwarz (1993) - Chicago White Sox

Two hours before Sunday's game at Comiskey Park, I ran into Jeff Schwarz, the ambidextrous White Sox middle reliever. I asked how he was feeling, if he was ready to go, the usual mundane questions.
"I'm ready-either right- or left-handed," he replied.
(Schwarz Doubly Armed and Ready by Jerome Holtzman, Chicago Tribune, June 28, 1993)

I asked if it was true that he is ambidextrous, that he can pitch with either hand.
It's true. When he was 13, pitching in Little League, he hurt his right arm in a skateboard accident. Surgery was required. Unable to compete, he began throwing with his left hand.
He collected all the balls in his house-croquet balls, tennis balls, a football, whiffle balls. He practiced in the back yard. Later, he began throwing against a neighbor's tennis wall 2-3 hours every day.
"I made a commitment I would learn how to play left-handed," Schwarz explained. "It wasn't easy in the beginning. But it finally started coming around."
The next season, he was a left-handed-throwing right-fielder in the Babe Ruth League, an alternate on the all-star team.
 (Well-armed Sox Rookie Finally Arrives by Jerome Holtzman, Chicago Tribune, June 10, 1993) 

Greg Fine (1988) - Delaware Valley High School in Everittstown, N.J.
Fine caused some double-takes when he began warming up for the fifth inning against rival Dunellen. If memory served, Fine had just pitched four shutout innings as a lefty. Now he was throwing right-handed, and the Dunellen bench didn't quite know what to make of it. (source: Sports World Specials,

Kenneth Thompson (1948) - Windsor, North Carolina
Regardless of how the hitter bats he gets no break from Kenneth Thompson, who throws well with his right or left arm and switches with the batter, throwing right-handed to right-handers and left-handed to left-handers. The 16-year-old ambidextrous ace of Windsor, N.C., high school has only five hits in 18 inning this spring. (source: The Evening Independent, May 4, 1948)

Paul Richards (1926) - Waxahachie, Texas
Paul Richards was an ambidextrous high school pitcher, from Waxahachie, TX, who won a doubleheader by throwing righty the first game and lefty the second. 
Richards played for the famous Waxahachie high school team that had a unbeaten string of 65 games and sent seven of its nine regulars to play professional baseball, including Art Shires and Belve Bean who starred in the big leagues.

Richards pitched with both hands in Minor League game on July 23, 1928 for the Muskogee Chiefs of the Class C Western Association against the Topeka Jayhawks. Called to the pitcher's mound from his shortstop position, he pitched both right-handed and left-handed in a brief appearance, including facing a switch-hitter, which resulted in both pitcher and batter switching hands and batter's boxes, respectively, until Richards broke the stalemate by alternating hands with each pitch, regardless of where the batter positioned himself. (Wikipedia)
"Topeka, where the Cardinals had a farm, had a switch hitter named Charley Wilson who tried to upset me by moving back and forth across the plate. I tossed my glove aside and held the ball with both hands behind me. If he tried to bat left, I pitched left-handed; if he turned around, I pitched from that side. There was some pretty fair publicity about that." - Paul Richards, (Red Smith, NY Times 1975).
Paul Rapier Richards (November 21, 1908 — May 4, 1986) was an American professional baseball player, manager, scout and executive in Major League Baseball.
A fond farewell to a baseball man who wasn't afraid to take chances - by Henry Hecht


Oren Edgar Summers (early 1900s) - Ladoga, Indiana
Ed Summers, was one of the sport’s first knuckleballers. During his baseball career, Summers was commonly nicknamed Kickapoo Ed (after a Native American tribe in Indiana). 

Early in his career he was “as talkative as the Sphinx.” He was a non-drinker, and a family man, having married his Ladoga sweetheart Nellie Williams in 1904. Yet Summers could also be “an eccentric character.” He had a “trick” left arm, and apparently pitched ambidextrously in moments of his semipro and/or minor league days. (source: Bio by Phil Williams,

Paul Green (1900s) - Harnett County, North Carolina
Paul Green, Harnett County’s Native Son, was a powerful pitcher – AND he could pitch with either hand and DID, without declaring which one – back in the good old days of baseball!
How Paul Green started switch pitching - 
"When he was 10, he got osteomyelitis in his right arm and had to have a serious operation at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, another terrifying experience. But he showed a typical Paul Green resilience and determination when, during his convalescence, he learned to pitch ball with his left arm, a talent that brought him money later in life as an ambidextrous sandlot league pitcher. (It was still legal in those days to disguise which hand the ball was to emerge from.") -- from A Daughter's Biography of Paul Green
"In addition to working the farm, Paul and [brother] Hugh hunted together and played semiprofessional baseball in towns up and down the river. Paul became such a fine ambidextrous pitcher that he supported himself a couple of summers with his baseball earnings." -- from A Southern Life: Letters of Paul Green, 1916-1981 (Laurence Avery, editor).

Paul Green of Chapel Hill - Eastern North Carolina Digital Library

JUST AFTER World War I, the Lillington Cats could beat any other baseball team in Harnett County. During the long hot eastern North Carolina summer, all the other little communities, Angier and Coats and Dunn, Fuquay Springs and Christian Light and Chalybeate, had to admit that the Lillington team could usually outplay them. At least one reason for the Cats’strength was their pitcher, a tall broad-shouldered young man who could pitch fast balls with his left arm as well as with his right: His name was Paul Green.

The Harnett County News enjoyed recording his exceptional skill. “Green, Lillington's star twirler, allowed the Bensonites only one bingle . . . Paul sure had ’em guessing. Left, right: left, right, is the way he handed it to the Lee County lads . . . Green, the ambidextrous star of the Cats, held the strong Sanford aggregation to three hits. . . .” He could slug them at the bat, too. “Paul Green just can't keep from hitting ’em . . . Zachery (from Raleigh) says that Paul Green throws the crookedest ball he ever struck at. . . .”

Paul Eliot Green (17 March 1894 - 4 May 1981) was an American playwright best known for his depictions of life in North Carolina during the first decades of the twentieth century.

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