Friday, December 26, 2014

Reasons to become an ambidextrous thrower

The majority of ambidextrous throwers are naturally right-handed. 

Kids under three often throw with both arms, but only 1% of the population is naturally ambidextrous.

Scrappers' pitcher highlights rarity of ambidexterity



Here are a few reasons why a player might start throwing with both arms:

• Just for fun 
• Natural ability to throw with both arms
• Kid wants to throw like switch pitcher Pat Venditte 

• Gain an advantage over the hitters  (Pat Venditte)
• Shut down the running game


• Prevent overuse (Henry Knight)
• Improve coordination and balance (Yu Darvish)

• Arm injury (Billy Wagner, Tony Mullane, Ed Head)
• Tommy John Surgery motivates the player to start throwing with the other arm


• Baseball dad always wanted a lefty pitcher (Ryan Perez)
• To see if it could be done (Greg Harris, Pat Venditte)

• A lefty wants to play shortstop but the coach says no (Brandon Berdoll)
• A lefty wants to play catcher, so they start throwing right-handed


• Only a right-handed catcher's mitt was available 
   (Babe Ruth was a lefty pitcher and right-handed catcher in school)




• Parent bought the wrong glove when the kid was young (it happens)
• Natural lefty started using his older brother's right-handed glove
• Coach makes you throw right-handed when you are a natural lefty


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Examples of ambidextrous throwers

Arm Injury

Ed Head switched throwing arms after a bus crash

In 1935 Head was a cleaver sandlot southpaw for the Ouachita Parish high school team at West Monroe, La. In a bus crash Head's pitching arm and shoulder were crushed. The surgeon, his uncle, said he might be able to save it, but that he was through as a pitcher.

Changed to Right Arm.

Head refused to give up. Like a baby learning to walk he learned to toss stones with his right hand and soon got enough distance and accuracy to play ball again. In 1938 he got a professional job with Jackson, Miss., and moved to Abbeville of the Evangeline league in 1939. Finally he reached the Dodgers and was just hitting his peak when he convinced army doctors his arm was sound enough to become a G.I., and he left in mid-season of 1944.


Ed Head Hurls No-hit Game


Warsaw Daily Union - Apr 25, 1946

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Tony Mullane

Hall Of Fame Nominee, Switch-Pitcher Tony Mullane 
by Lew Freedman,  Si.com - Nov 19, 2012

Mullane began as a right-hander, but when he hurt his arm he taught himself to pitch lefty, too. Then, when his original injury healed, he pitched from both sides, sometimes in the same at-bat. This was facilitated by his not wearing a glove.
Read more

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Prevent Overuse

A few pitchers became ambidextrous throwers to prevent overuse of their dominant arm. This can work in the role as a relief pitcher where you throw one or two innings in a game.

Henry Knight alternates throwing arms to maintain fitness and prevent overuse. He uses his ambidextrous skills to field every position during summer ball - including pitcher and catcher.

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Pitching Advantage

Pat Venditte Sr. trained his son to throw with both arms to give his son an edge in athletic competitions. 

For Pat Jr., it's meant a way to chase his dream of playing in the Show someday. "I know I wouldn't be this far without it," he says. "I don't have dominating stuff from one side or the other. I need both." (ESPN)

Venditte switches throwing arms to adjust for the platoon situation. In general, right-handed batters hit better against left-handed pitchers, while left-handed hitters have the advantage against right-handed pitchers. By being ambidextrous, Venditte has the advantage by pitching right-handed to righties, and left-handed to lefties. Plus coaches can save pitchers in the bullpen who normally would be used to face one or two batters.
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Throwing with both arms for fun

A Wacky Wannabe Southpaw
Robertson Earns a Living With His Right Arm but Has More Fun Throwing Lefty


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