Monday, March 18, 2013

Owen Keenan - Ambidextrous Pitcher 1885

Owen Keenan
Youngstown Ohio

Position: Pitcher
Threw: Both (ambidextrous)

Profession: Musician in Pittsburgh

Owen Keenan Minor League Statistics & History

Pitched with Either Arm
But these Ambidextrous Hurlers Never Lasted Long.
NY Times, March 14, 1915

Followers of baseball have often heard of the fellow who could pitch a fast ball with either hand and make it curve also, but very few have seen one of the pitching freaks. Baseball history tells of a chap named Owen Keenan, who pitched for Youngstown, Ohio, in 1885. Keenan could pitch equally well with either arm. On the 4th of July of that season this wonder pitched two games of ball against New Castle and beat that team in both contests. He worked his left arm in the first game and used his right wing in the second contest, with the odds slightly in favor of the right whip.

The famous Larry Corcoran of the Chicago team in the early '80s was one of the great hurlers of the period.

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Odgen Standard, 20 March1915

Ambidextrous Pitcher

It is the general opinion that no pitcher can ever throw both right and left handed with
equal skill. Back in the 80s when Jim McAller and Ed McKean were playing with Youngstown, in the Iron and Oil League, an ambidextrous pitcher by the name of Keenan played on the same team. This man could work equally well with right or left. On July 4, 1885, McAleer says he pitched two games against New Castle, twirling the morning game with his right and the afternoon performance with his left hand, winning both games.

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Ambidextrous Pitcher Downed Nocks Twice

Pitched Right Handed First, Left Handed Second

New Castle Herald (New Castle, Pennsylvania), 22 Jul 1908

The Enquirer recently stated that no pitcher was ever equally throwing both right and left-handed. A. J. Thoma, calls attention to Tony Mullane as an ambidextrous artist. Mullane could throw fairly well left-handed , and occasionally pitched a ball or two that way, but more in fun than anything else. He never attempted to pitch left handed at serious moments.

Mr. McGowan, however, remembers a real ambidextrous pitcher, who was with Youngstown, in the old Iron and Oil league, back in 1884 and 1885, when Jim McAleer and Ed McKean were playing there. His name was Owen Keenan and he worked equally well with either hand. It is a matter of record that on July 4, 1885, he pitched two games against New Castle, pitching right-handed in the morning and left-handed in the afternoon, and winning both games. Keenan died recently in Pittsburg. – Cincinnati Enquirer.

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Two days later - 
A Second Life for a switch pitcher...

Ambidextrous Pitcher Yet Alive and Well

New Castle Herald (New Castle, Pennsylvania), 24 Jul 1908

Owen Keenan, the ambidextrous pitcher who, July 4th 1995, twice defeated the Nocks by pitching right handed in the morning and left handed in the afternoon for a Youngstown team, is yet living and well. He is located in Pittsburg, where he is a musician of considerable note.

He is a cousin of John, Joseph and Thomas Martin of the Sixth ared, well known glass workers who were themselves exceedingly clever ball players in days when some of the players of today were peeping through the knot holes. The report of the ambidextrous pitcher's death was evidently wrong, as his cousins here can testify.

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Takeaway: You can't always trust what you read.

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