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

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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, sbnation.com)

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)
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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, nytimes.com)

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

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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, SABR.org)

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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!
source: PaulGreen.org
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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
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"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).
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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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Saturday, June 16, 2012

High School Switch Pitchers


Henry Knight throws deceptive change-ups from both sides
as a high school switch pitcher
Over the past decade, there have been a few players who pitched with both arms in high school baseball games. Most of these ambidextrous pitchers started throwing with both hands before they were playing Little League baseball. 

Here are some interesting stories and videos  of ambidextrous high school baseball players who switch pitched in games.

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Henry Knight (2015) - Franklin High School, Seattle, Washington

Henry Knight is a switch pitcher and middle infielder for Franklin High School in Seattle. He plays a variety of sports and works out daily. In the off-season, Knight worked with Ken Knutson (ASU), Elliott Cribby (SeattleU), and Jason Kelly (UW) to hone his pitching skills. He throws a fastball, 2-seamer, splitter, change-up, curveball and cutter – for strikes – from both sides.


In 2014, Knight played infield and pitched for the BBB 18U team that competed in the American Legion Super Regionals. As a switch pitcher and infielder, he helped lead the Columbia City Reds 16U team to a 3rd place finish in the Mickey Mantle state tournament. 

In 2013, Knight was the starting shortstop and closer for the Columbia City Reds 15U team. He posted a 1.26 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 39 innings as a relief pitcher. As a switch hitter, he posted a .500 BA with a .677 OBP.

As a sophomore, Knight was a relief pitcher with a 0.78 ERA as a lefty. As a switch pitcher, he recorded 22 strikeouts and only two walks in 22 innings, for a 11:1 K/BB ratio

In his junior year, Knight posted a 0.00 ERA pitching left-handed, while recording an impressive 12:1 K/BB ratio as a switch pitcher.


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Tyler Hopman (2015) - Old Bridge, New Jersey

Tyler Hopman is a 6'2" freshman switch pitcher who plays for Old Bridge High School Knights in New Jersey. In an interview, he said that he feels a lot stronger throwing lefty.

When not pitching, Hopman plays center field right-handed. He bats exclusively from the left side.

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Cole Critchfield (2015) - Jackson, Wyoming / Utah
Sophomore Cole Critchfield plays for the Jackson Giants of the American Legion league. Critchfield is listed on the roster as S/L and playing P, 1B, OF.

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Zack Santora (2015) - St. Johns High School, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts
In 2013, Zack Santora taught himself to throw left-handed after he broke his pitching hand. He plays first base right-handed and bats left-handed. Santora uses a Mizuno ambidextrous glove.
Read more about Zack Santora

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Gage Shell (2014) - Eastern Greene Thunderbirds, Bloomfield, Indiana

Sophomore Gage Shell spelled T-Bird starter Zak Eckerle with six-plus innings of relief work. What makes the sophomore hurler so unique is his ability to throw with either hand -- likely making him the first ambidextrous pitcher in Eastern Greene baseball or at least in McConnell's tenure as head coach.
"Gage did a great job tonight," McConnell said. "He pitched with both hands at times tonight. He gave us innings and helped save our bullpen. He really did a great job for us tonight." (source: gcdailyworld.com)

Shell, T-Birds no-hit Vikings
The Eastern Greene Thunderbirds wrapped-up the 2012 regular season in style thanks to a no-hitter by sophomore Gage Shell as EGHS defeated Barr-Reeve 2-0 at Montgomery Monday evening.
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Alex Urbanek (2014) - Roland-Story High School, Story City, Iowa

Roland-Story sophomore Alex Urbanek can throw the baseball for strikes with either arm. Urbanek has a fastball-curveball-changeup repertoire with both hands. A natural righty, he gets more movement throwing left-handed, but has more velocity right-handed. He uses a tan Easton glove when pitching righty and switches to a black Mizuno glove when throwing lefty. At the plate, he only hits right-handed, since he gave up switch hitting before high school. (source: Ames Tribune)
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Switch pitchers who played beyond high school baseball
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Alexander Trautner (2014) - San Ramon Valley High School, Danville, CA


A 6'3" switch pitcher from Northern California, Alexander Trautner throws a fastball, curveball and change-up from either side. Right-handed he reaches 87 mph and left-handed he throws 83 mph. Trautner plays for the Danville Hoots Baseball Club.  Trautner fields firstbase left-handed, and behind the plate he is a right-handed catcher.
College Commitment: Creighton University
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Aubrey McCarty (2013) - Coquitt County High School, Doerun, GA

Aubrey McCarty is a switch hitter and both hand pitcher who can throw up to 89 mph right-handed (Perfect Game). Throws a fastball, curveball and changeup. At 6'3", McCarty also plays the corner infield right-handed. 
In early May, McCarty's pitching record was 9-1, with a 2.74 ERA. He had 47 strikeouts and 37 walks in 53.2 innings pitched (Moultrie Observer). 
College Commitment: Vanderbilt
Drafted by the SF Giants in 2013

McCarty is now playing for Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Marcus Garcia (2013) - Roseville High School, Roseville, CA

As a junior, switch pitcher Marcus Garcia pitched in 11 games – racking up 28 strikeouts in 30.2 innings for the Roseville Tigers.

Marcus Garcia is now pitching for Sierra College in California. 


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Ryan Perez (2012) - Hampshire, Illinois

On his Perfect Game player profile, Ryan Perez’s primary position is listed as “BHP.” That’s BHP as in “both-handed pitcher.” It’s a position sometimes referred to as “switch-pitcher.”

Perez is a 6-foot, 185-pound senior at Westminster Christian High School in Hampshire, Ill., whose father, Juan Perez, made the decision to develop his son into an ambidextrous thrower as soon as the youngster was old enough to pick up a ball. (source: Perfect Game USA)

In 2011, his fastball was 90 mph right-handed and 87 mph left-handed. News reports have him pitching 90 mph with both hands.  

As a college freshman, Perez was on the baseball roster at Judson University – listed as RHP/LHP (switch pitcher).

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Andrew Pullin (2012) - Centralia High School, Washington
The versatile Pullin was a switch-hitter and ambidextrous pitcher at Centralia High School where he was a four-year starter. Pullin began throwing with both arms in the fifth grade - during Little League. Read more

In 2012, the Phillies drafted outfielder Andrew Pullin in the fifth round as the 188th overall pick of the MLB draft. Previously, he had committed to play ball for the University of Oregon, which has a strong baseball program.
Like Vettleson, Andrew Pullin played summer ball for the NW Timberjacks 18U team.
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Dalton Mellott (2011) - Owensboro Catholic High School, Kentucky
As a 16-year-old ambidextrous pitcher, Mellott was clocked throwing at 88 mph righty, and 75 mph lefty. He pitched right-handed and played infield in college. Read more
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Drew Vettleson (2010) - Central Kitsap High School, Washington

The athletic Vettleson was the 42nd overall pick in the 2010 MLB draft. He pitched and played outfield for Central Kitsap High School and was committed to play for Oregon State University before being selected by the Tampa Bay Rays.
In the summer, Drew Vettleson played for the NW Timberjacks 18U team.

Vettleson earned some notice for his switch-pitching, but he’s a pro prospect as an outfielder who can hit well and is projected to play right field.
Drew Vettleson led Central Kitsap in nearly every offensive statistical category during the regular season in 2010, hitting .490 to go with seven home runs and 29 RBI. He also was the team's top pitcher, posting a 1.35 ERA with 71 strikeouts and 32 walks.
Drew Vettleson MiLB statistics
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D.J. Hoagboon (2010) - Mayfield High School, New York

Ambidextrous pitcher D.J. Hoagboon is also a catcher, infielder and outfielder. He was a four-year letterwinner at Mayfield High School... Two-time team captain...Was named Under Armour Pre-Season All-American...Batted .532 left-handed as a senior. 

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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.

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

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Matt Brunnig (Harvard class of 2006) 

Matt Brunnig, a tall switch pitcher, was able to throw over 85mph on either side, but never pitched with both arms in the same game. As a starter he would pitch every game conventionally with one side, and save the other arm for another start, thus allowing him to be two starters in one.
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Pat Venditte Jr. - Omaha Central High School, Nebraska

Pat Venditte played for Omaha Central High School where he posted a 5-4 record during his senior year, pitching both left and right-handed -- earning All-Nebraska second team honors. Lettered two seasons in baseball under coach Scott Hodges.

In 2005, he joined the Creighton University Bluejays, where he was a walk-on player. He had five appearances as a freshman pitcher, but was not allowed to switch pitch until his sophomore year. In the 2007 season, Venditte earned first-team all-conference honors -- leading Creighton to its first conference championship and was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.

In 2006, Venditte pitched both left-handed and right-handed in 22 games, as a college sophomore. Recorded a 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings ratio with his left arm despite being a natural right hander.

As a Junior, in 2007, he pitched with both arms in 32 of his appearances, and recorded at least one strikeout with both arms 10 times ... Left-handed batters were just 18-for-101 (.178) against him, while right-handed batters hit 44-for-227 (.194) ... Finished the season with a 9.1 strikeouts-per-nine innings ratio.

In 2008, Venditte was selected by the NY Yankees as the 620th pick of the MLB draft. He is currently pitching in the minor leagues.

Venditte's ability to pitch with either arm led professional baseball umpires to create a new rule for ambidextrous pitchers, know as the "Pat Venditte Rule."

Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte really is the man in the mirror 
Two Pitchers in One by John Strubel

Pat Venditte MiLB statistics

Pat Venditte Biography - GoCreighton.com

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Rich Brady - Holy Ghost Prep 1993, Philadelphia, PA 

Rich Brady writes with his left hand, shoots a basketball with his right hand and plays first base left-handed and third base right-handed. 
He pitches with his right hand. And he pitches with his left hand. Brady finished the 1993 season with a 6-0 record - four wins right-handed and two left-handed. He first became intrigued by his emerging ambidexterity at age 7, and he has worked at it ever since. Coach Ted Grabowski said Brady hits about 80 m.p.h. with his fastball right-handed and in the mid- 70s left-handed. (philly.com)

Holy Ghost Prep Pitcher Switches Arms in Rout of Lower Moreland, April 22, 1993 | philly.com


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