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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thinking Outside-the-Diamond in Baseball

By Andy Atticus

For a sport so rich in tradition, baseball still finds a way to let pioneers flourish in the game. Consider the stories of the blind hitting instructor, the "switch-pitcher" who throws with both his right and left arms, and the 12-year-old girl who pitched a perfect game against an all-boys team in Little League action. Read on.

The Blind Hitting Instructor

Mark Wetzel's has been considered legally blind for 45 years as a result of macular degeneration. It doesn't stop him from working with baseball players from the Little League all the way to Major League Baseball with their hitting from his home in Nebraska. Wetzel works with high school players, pro hitting instructors, professional players, and has even worked with Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, a career .338 hitter.

Although he would have trouble recognizing friends' faces, he is able to make out shapes when looking out of the sides of his eyes. This limited vision along with his extensive experience in hitting, enables him to diagnose hitting problems and make suggestions for corrections. His approach works as some 200 players work with Wetzel each year. When the All-Nebraska baseball team was announced recently, 6 of the 9 players had worked with Wetzel on their hitting. His nickname, "The Horse Whisperer of Baseball." is well earned.

The "Switch-Pitcher"

Pat Venditte is a right-handed pitcher for the Charleston RiverDogs, a New York Yankees minor league team. Venditte is also a left-handed pitcher for the Charleston RiverDogs. You see he is the only ambidextrous pitcher in professional baseball. Encouraged by his dad at a young age to practice throwing left-handed and right-handed, Venditte never gave up on that direction.

To accommodate his unique approach to pitching, Venditte has a custom made baseball glove - complete with 2 pockets and 6 finger holes (2 are thumb holes) - that he can easily switch from one hand to the next, if he wants to change pitching arms. He typically pitches left-handed to left-handed batters and right-handed to right-handed batters. To get ready before games, Venditte takes 4 warm-up pitches left-handed and 4 right-handed.

Because he can pitch with either arm, he's able to rest one pitching arm while using the other. Thus, he's able to make many appearances. From either side, he has performed well. Last year he racked up 23 saves and a 0.83 ERA for the Staten Island Yankees. Nicknamed "Dexter" by a college coach, Venditte is hoping for a career in the big leagues.

This Girl can Pitch

One of only two girls in the entire Bayonne, New Jersey baseball Little League, Mackenzie Brown is the pitcher for her team. Earlier this year, she made national news by pitching a perfect game. She retired all 18 batters, all of whom happened to be boys. Mackenzie threw 12 strikeouts in the process. It was the first perfect game in the league's 58 year-old history.

The young pitching ace was later interviewed about her feat on a national morning show in New York City and got to throw out the first ball at a New York Mets game later in the week. Mackenzie has put a new spin on the tired phrase, "throws like a girl."

Andy works as a writer for, a site that is dedicated to inspirational sports stories from the past and present that focus on overcoming obstacles, good deeds, achievement and sportsmanship. Read and watch videos about Mark Wetzel, Pat Venditte, Mackenzie Brown and many more. You'll also find inspirational sports stories and quotes on basketball, football, track, hockey and other sports. Link:

Article Source:

Derek Jeter Hurricane Hitting Machine
======================================= - Links

---15 Reasons To Buy a Hurricane Trainer
---6 Questions Often Asked By Customers
---Message to Parents From Coach Nick
---Hurricane Hitting Machine Drills
---20-Minute Hurricane Batting Practice Workout
---Hurricane Hitting Machine Video Demo Clips

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Hello Baseball Friend,
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Have a great day, Nick