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Left is right, right is left
2007-04-05 22:45
by Bob Timmermann

Alan Schwarz of the New York Times reports about Pat Venditte, an ambidextrous relief pitcher for the Creighton Blue Jays. Venditte has a specially-made glove that enables him to switch pitching arms depending upon the batter.

Greg Harris, normally a righthander, was the last major leaguer to switch pitching arms during a game, back on September 28, 1995 in a meaningless game.

According to Peter Morris' book A Game of Inches: The Stories Behind the Innovations That Shaped Baseball, there were three pitchers in the 19th century who were confirmed to have "switch-pitched" during a major league game.

They were: Tony Mullane in 1882, 1892, and 1893 (he was normally right-handed), Larry Corcoran (who tried it in 1884 for one game), and Elton "Icebox" Chamberlain, who was reported to have done it at least once in his career and may have thrown pitches to home right-handed and pickoff throws to first left-handed. This is of course easier in an era when pitchers did not wear gloves.

It's not know if the 19th century pitchers were seeking a platoon advantage or just a way to rest their better arm.

The NCAA's Official Rules of Baseball 9.02 (k) states

A pitcher may not pitch both right-handed and left-handed to the same batter in the same at-bat.

The penalties for this are a balk if runners are on or a ball. The pitcher has to declare first which hand he will throw with. Although this rule is not formally in the professional rules, it is what umpires are directed to do.

Thanks to Johnny Nucleo for the heads up.

2007-04-05 23:50:16
1.   Eric Enders
So in college, am I reading that correctly that the guy can actually switch-pitch a batter so long as he agrees to spot him a ball?
2007-04-06 00:00:21
2.   Bob Timmermann
I didn't reproduce the whole rule because it was a pdf, but if you keep switch-pitching during an at-bat, you get kicked out.
2007-04-06 00:36:30
3.   Ryan Armbrust
I'm from the Omaha area, and I've seen Venditte pitch in person a few times. It's a surreal thing to see a pitcher take off his glove during warmup pitches, put it on the other hand, and throw strikes from the other side. It's not just a gimmick, either; he's an effective reliever.
2007-04-06 05:29:34
4.   Josh Wilker
I liked Greg Harris back when he was on the Red Sox, in part because of the chance that he might start pitching left-handed at any moment. Even though the switch-pitching thing was at most a meaningless-game gimmick for him, he (like Venditte) always wore a special glove "just in case."
2007-04-06 12:29:52
5.   bhsportsguy
Bob, have you heard of something like this before re security measures for a book being sent to a library.

2007-04-06 12:40:11
6.   Bob Timmermann
That issue is a matter of great consternation at my work place and I can't comment on it here.
2007-04-06 17:15:08
7.   Eric Enders
5 This quote from that article is one of the most disingenuous quotes I've ever read:

"The rules are required to honor Rowling's wishes of preserving a "magical moment" for children, Scholastic spokeswoman Kyle Good said.

"When you have a print run of 12 million books that you're sending out into the world, just in the U.S. alone, and you do want to preserve a very special moment for children, you take whatever precautions you need," she said."

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