Pitchers get advice from plenty of guys who have enough trouble hitting
I ruined any snowball’s chance in hell I may have had of being a big league pitcher by stubbornly refusing to put much thought into my repertoire until I was in my mid-20’s. Since my fastball topped out in the 86-87 mph range, that didn’t get me very far, and I still look back wistfully at the 100-or-so-degree day that I discovered the changeup out of necessity rather than let myself get taken out of a game. Why, oh why, couldn’t I have wised up when I was 16 instead of 26 and already a has been by any standard with illusions of major league glory?
I haven’t played organized ball in over a decade now, but I still hunger to learn all I can about the science of pitching. One thing that fascinates me is the awareness that a lot of young stud hurlers hyped up by Sickels, Baseball Prospectus, etc. are practically as bullheaded and clueless as I was in their youth.
That’s why I never hesitate to ask big league pitchers what they learned about pitching AFTER they reached the majors. Some of them actually answer, and the responses are occasionally (to me, anyway) fascinating and often full of exclamation points. One day I want to dig them all up and put them in a book, but for now I’ll share the ones close at hand with my faithful reader…or is it readers?
LHP Danny Boone (5’8″ with career 3.36 ERA): “Always stay aggressive, don’t back down, keep hitter off-balance.”
LHP Don Carman (53 career wins): “Be relentless.”
LHP Jerry Don Gleaton (12 year career): “I learned that you need to be aggressive, throw strikes and keep composure at all times!”
LHP Darold Knowles (pitched in all 7 1973 World Series games): “Throwing strikes”
RHP Terry Leach (3.15 career ERA): “Don’t think that the hitters are better than you.”
RHP Dyar Miller (23 wins & 22 saves in 7 years): “I learned in the major leagues that it’s the best place to play. Much tougher and better than the minors.”
RHP Stu Miller (led each league in saves): “That hitters are idiots.”
RHP Sergio Mitre (10 major league wins so far): “Most important thing is that you can never stop learning. Make sure to be prepared and know that you tried everything to be successful.”
LHP John Morris (11-7 over 8 years): “Always believe it can happen!!”
LHP Rob Murphy (3.64 ERA in 597 relief outings): “Don’t throw strikes that are too good.”
LHP Randy Niemann (7-8 over 8 years): “Throwing strikes & having a put away pitch!!”
RHP Mike Parrott (14-game winner in 1979): “I learned the importance of making the most out of each day and opportunity. Life is short, enjoy what God has given you.”
RHP Duane Pillette (first Orioles to win a game, 1954): “That it’s more with the head than with the arm. Also, if the legs aren’t in good shape, then the arm is overworked.”
RHP Bob Savage (WWII vet won 16 games): “Learning how to pitch!!”
RHP Bob Scanlan (20 career wins with 17 saves): “Location, location, location and be committed to your pitch.”
LHP Buddy Schultz (15-9 with 12 saves career): “Experience matters.”
RHP Bob Sebra (15 big league wins): “The most important advice I can give to you is to learn how to pitch to the situation –score of the game, inning you’re in– and to just go out to the mound and go as hard as you can for as long as you can! Don’t try to be a hero and let your defense work for you! Work Fast, Throw Strikes, Have Fun!!!”
RHP Al Severinsen (3.08 career ERA): “It was important to know when to challenge hitters as a relief pitcher. You wanted to get beat on your best stuff. I tried to stay ahead in the count making the hitters hit my pitch.”
LHP Bobby Shantz (1952 AL MVP): “The most important thing I learned about pitching was how to change speeds on my fastball and curveball. Getting the hitters off balance is very important because they all look for the fastball.”
RHP Scott Sullivan (40-28 in 10 seasons): “Keep the ball low!”
RHP Mike Torrez (20-game winner 1975): “Being positive all times.”
RHP Dave Veres (95 career saves): “Throw strikes!!!”
RHP Al Worthington (110 career saves): “I learned to concentrate – always be ready to pitch – always keep the ball down – and believe in yourself.”
RHP Jim Wright (1981-82 Royals): “Still throwing my fastball as hard as before or as I always had, but throwing it exactly where I wanted to in the strike zone and out of the strike zone. That was the most important thing I learned about pitching after entering pro ball.”
If you enjoyed reading these, please let me know, and I’ll dig some others out of the archives when I go back home over the holidays.