Pitchers and Catchers

Richard Hershberger

Richard Hershberger is a paralegal working in Maryland. When he isn't doing whatever it is that paralegals do, or taking his daughters to Girl Scouts, he is dedicated to the collection and analysis of useless and unremunerative information.

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7 Responses

  1. Will Truman says:

    Very tangential, but for several consecutive spring breaks we went to Phoenix to watch Spring Training for MLB. It was a really good time. Every baseball fan should do it once. Of course, by the end of it you’re kind of burned out from baseball for a little while.Report

  2. But did they take mild doses of physic to work on the bowels?Report

  3. Kolohe says:

    Professor Ottignon – the Abner Doubleday of the UFC.Report

  4. Burt Likko says:

    One can only imagine what these fellows must have eaten as part of their program to get into shape for playing baseball back then.

    Why didn’t the training regimen include doing things like throwing baseballs, catching baseballs, swinging baseball bats? Those kinds of exercises would seem to have been relevant to the intended goal.Report

    • El Muneco in reply to Burt Likko says:

      There seems to be a universal blind spot in that regard. It wasn’t until the 1970s that it was universally accepted that professional footballers should practice with a ball involved, and even then some old blokes acquiesced only grudgingly.

      I know my 89ers football coaches in the same era spent well over half our practices on punishing physical conditioning (admittedly, we could use it) – in retrospect, some Carrollesque tackling instruction would have helped us in the trenches more than an extra hour and a half a week running.Report

      • Richard Hershberger in reply to El Muneco says:

        My take on it is that there are three aspects to training: physical conditioning, tactical skills (throwing a ball, batting a ball, catching a ball), and strategic skills (where does each fielder go in any given scenario).

        Strategic skills aren’t something you can really practice indoors. You can practicing throwing and catching, and I have seen references to pitchers and catchers doing this in the gym over the winter, but you can’t do hitting indoors without a specialized space. Batting cages make their appearance in the 1880s. They were introduced by college teams, who started their season earlier than did the pros because they had to get it all in before graduation (this is still true, by the way) and so had a strong incentive to get their practice in regardless of weather. They also were a bunch of rich kids whose dads could subsidize specialized spaces.

        Physical conditioning is the one aspect that you indisputably can do indoors. Even this wasn’t universal. It was something that the better-run clubs did, the idea being that it would help avoiding the players crapping out around July. The “marathon, not a sprint” idea was understood even then.

        But for baseball-specific tactical skills, there also seems to have been some sense that either you got it or you don’t. As soon as the weather cleared up, practice consisted of actual games, typically against local amateurs. Fungo hitting was a thing, but it was controversial whether it was a good idea.

        So yeah, what El Muneco said.Report

  5. Slade the Leveller says:

    Reporting in from the land of magical thinking here. Last year the Cubs were going to win the World Series because Back to the Future predicted it. This year they’ll win because all of their players are going to have career years again. Gotta love Cub fans!Report