Complex Rules May Quash Ambidextrous Pitching

Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte 2008 Staten Island Yankees

Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte
2008 Staten Island Yankees

 

When an ambidextrous throwing hand closing pitcher came into a June 19, 2008 game to get the last out for his visiting team against a switch hitter for the home club, the only usual circumstance at play here was the fact that both players and their teams had names. Pat Venditte had taken the mound for the visiting Staten Island Yankees; Ralph Henriquez was at the plate for the Brooklyn Cyclone.

What happened when they met under the game circumstances we usually view as “normal” was everything to the polar contrary – and without a first pitch from Venditte ever leaving either hand as a throw to the plate.

When batter Henriquez first stood in to hit as a right handed batter, Venditte shifted his special ambidextrous glove to his left hand to indicate that he now intended to throw right handed. Noting the change, Henriquez simply stepped to the other side of the plate to indicate that he now intended to bat left handed.

Since there were no rules in place seven years ago to prevent this laughable farce, it went back and forth through unreported repetitions until the not-so-happy-about-it umpire finally ordered Henriquez to hold his spot as a right handed batter and take a right handed time at bat against a right handed Venditte. Four pitches later, Henriquez struck out and the game was in the books as a win for Staten Island and a save for Venditte.

This is baseball, remember. The call went out immediately for the creation of rules to govern and control against this eventuality of this same “dance” every time an ambidextrous pitcher came into a game facing a switch hitter. Here’s what the Professional Baseball Umpire Association (PBUC) quickly came up with as the new rules governing this special circumstance after consulting with a number of deep-blue-sea baseball sources, including the Major League Baseball Rules Committee:

• The pitcher must visually indicate to the umpire, batter and runner(s) which way he will begin pitching to the batter. Engaging the rubber with the glove on a particular hand is considered a definitive commitment to which arm he will throw with. The batter will then choose which side of the plate he will bat from.

• The pitcher must throw one pitch to the batter before any “switch” by either player is allowed.

• After one pitch is thrown, the pitcher and batter may each change positions one time per at-bat. For example, if the pitcher changes from right-handed to left-handed and the batter then changes batter’s boxes, each player must remain that way for the duration of that at-bat (unless the offensive team substitutes a pinch hitter, and then each player may again “switch” one time).

• Any switch (by either the pitcher or the batter) must be clearly indicated to the umpire.

• There will be no warm-up pitches during the change of arms.

• If an injury occurs the pitcher may change arms but not use that arm again during the remainder of the game.

All of this information is derived from an informative July 2, 2008 article by Benjamin Hill for MLB.com. My apologies if this story and article is simply old news to you, but we weren’t aware of it here at the Pecan Park Eagle until Darrell “Old Reliable” Pittman sent us all this information yesterday afternoon. – Thanks again, my friend.

http://m.mlb.com/news/article/3051858/

Darrell Pittman also has provided us with an historical reference to the few ambidextrous pitchers, going back to the 19th century:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switch_pitcher

About Pat Venditte. Pat Venditte finally broke into MLB in 2015, posting a 2-2, 4.40 ERA record as a reliever for the Oakland A’s in 26 game appearances.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/v/vendipa01.shtml

Ambidexterity in General. All we care to say about the problematical issue of making sensible room for ambidextrous pitching in baseball is brief. – If their own genetic rarity doesn’t continue to make them a non-issue in the first place, they most probably are going to be governed into normalcy by those oh-so constrictive rules against their best use of that very special power to surprise batters by randomly throwing every pitch they learn at the batter by whim or design – and with either hand – whenever they want. Those opportunities no have been pretty much “ruled out” – and, I’m sorry, I have neither the information nor the time to dig it up this morning to say anything about how, if at all, ambidexterity now benefits Pat Venditte.

Have an exciting or peaceful Tuesday, everybody, with whatever happens to be your compulsion or choice of behaviors on the way to whatever your fate or destiny may be today! This Tuesday is either a day – or your day. Use it as you either choose – or feel you must.

____________________

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