Saturday, July 13, 2013

Is the ambidextrous pitcher a myth?

Some people think that ambidextrous pitcher are freaks of nature.  Other people think that switch pitchers, like Pat Venditte, are a gimmick to draw fans to the ballpark.

As a pitching coach, I think that ..

   Ambidextrous pitchers are skilled ball players who are fun to watch.

Ambidextrous pitcher Henry Knight throwing a double bullpen at Driveline Baseball

While doing some research, I found this article in the archive of The New York Times

Pitched with Either Arm
but these ambidextrous hurlers never lasted long.

Published: March 14, 1915

Followers of baseball have often heard of the fellow who could pitch a fastball with either hand and make it curve also, but very few have seen one of these 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. 

Windham, originally a right-handed pitcher, lost the use of his pitching arm through an accident. He made a shift and began practicing with his left arm. He was very successful and made a splendid record with the Worcester team of the Easton League during 1903, so good, in fact, that he was signed by the St. Louis Americans for the season of 1904. However, his pitching from the left side was not natural for him, and instead of his arm's getting stronger and better he weakened his whole left side and finally had to give up pitching. 

So the ambidextrous hurler is more or less of a myth. The pitching game is too strenuous for any kind of an arm but the good natural wing.

Read the article

The Facts

Ambidextrous Pitchers are Real
but very rare

Ambidextrous pitchers do still exist. Switch pitchers are not a gimmick.

As a coach, I work with my son who is high school switch pitcher. He works every day to improve his baseball skills and plays the game the right way.

Most switch pitchers learn how to throw with both arms when they are young. They are some of the hardest working players around. Ambidextrous pitchers are grinders and have a high baseball IQ.

A few examples of Pro, College and High School ambidextrous pitchers:

Pat Venditte became an ambidextrous player as an experiment by his father to see if it could be done. He started training to throw with both arms when he was only 3-years-old! It was a cool idea, and the experiment worked. Venditte was a switch pitcher in college, was drafted twice by the NY Yankees and now switch pitches in the minor leagues. Venditte is a hard worker and is very humble.

A little research shows that several switch pitchers came before Venditte and true stories, with photos, have been published in the news for years.

Ryan Perez is a switch pitcher at Judson University who throws 90 mph with both arms! In high school he helped his team win a state championship. Coaches say that Perez is a legitimate pitcher with either arm.

Aubrey McCarty, is a switch hitter and ambidextrous pitcher from Georgia who was drafted by the SF Giants in 2013. Last year, he signed a letter of intent to play college baseball with the top-ranked Vanderbilt team. Watch a feature story on McCarty.

Drew Vettleson, a hard-throwing switch pitcher, was the top-ranked high school player from Washington state. Vettleson was drafted by the Rays out of high school and now plays outfield in the minor leagues.

Henry Knight is an athletic switch pitcher, from Seattle, who is the best right-hander and left-hander on the high school team. In the summer, Knight switch pitched for 11 innings during a Ken Griffey division game – throwing 94 strikes.

Knight started throwing with both arms when he was 9-years-old, because he thought that it would be fun.

Learn how Knight started throwing with both arms.


Now there are videos of ambidextrous throwers posted on YouTube.

Switch Pitchers on YouTube >>


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