Anybody follow this guy? I've been watching him when I can. It's amazing to watch an ambidextrous pitcher. Pretty much equally effective with either arm. Do you think he'd be best suited as a starter or as an inning-eating reliever?
CU’s Venditte spells double trouble
By PAT DONOHUE Assistant Editor
The statistics might identify him as a left-handed pitcher one inning and a right-handed pitcher the next. It isn’t a scorekeeper’s oversight. Rather, it’s an accurate testament to a Creighton pitcher who has moved from near the bottom of the pitching staff to close to the top.
Pat Venditte largely has been responsible for where he finds himself on the team, just like he was responsible for getting there in the first place.
“We didn’t actively recruit him,” coach Ed Servais said. “He actually pursued us and asked if he could have the opportunity to play here.
“We said that we would give him the opportunity, but we couldn’t make any promises other than that.”
Based on his statistics this season, it’s easy to see that Venditte didn’t take his opportunity for granted.
So far on the young season, Venditte has compiled a stingy 1.11 earned run average in just under 25 innings of work. He also has registered a team-leading 22 strikeouts, while giving up only four walks.
Although his numbers are quite impressive, they aren’t his most recognizable feature. Venditte is ambidextrous, which means he can use both arms with equal effectiveness. It is something one seldom sees in the game of baseball: a switch pitcher. This unique skill is something Venditte has been trying to hone since an early age.
“My dad started me when I was three,” Venditte said. “Ever since then, [I’ve] been working every day with both hands, just trying to develop the left-hand side because that was the less dominant hand.”
Throwing a baseball successfully with both hands would seem to be a difficult task, and it is. Venditte now has been trying to perfect the talent for almost 18 years.
Venditte has certainly progressed since coming to Creighton last year.
As a freshman, he played sparingly, making only five appearances on the mound and posting a 14.73 ERA. Despite the less-than-stellar numbers, Venditte knew this year could be a more successful campaign.
“This year, I knew I was going to get my opportunity,” Venditte said. “I knew if I didn’t take advantage of [the opportunity], it was going to be a season just like last year.
“Even now, each time I go out, it’s just to get another opportunity; that’s the way I have to look at it.”
Venditte’s work ethic has worked to his advantage. Coming out of high school, he was not a Division I recruiting target; instead, he was looked at primarily by Division II schools. He originally verbally committed to play at Missouri Western, which is a Division II school in St. Joseph, Mo.; but instead of heading south, he decided to take the opportunity offered by coach Servais and Creighton.
Since then, Venditte has worked hard to prove he can compete at the Division I level. In the summer, he competed in the Jayhawk League for the Wichita Twins. In addition to playing ball, he also lifted five days a week and ran every day.
His efforts are noted by his head coach.
“I cannot emphasize how much credit he deserves,” Servais said. “He is a self-made player. I wish the coaches could take credit for him, but they cannot; he deserves all the credit for making himself the player that he is.
“He’s a great team player. He’ll do whatever we ask him to do.”
Venditte’s talents also are recognized by opposing teams before he throws an official pitch in a game.
Servais said that while Venditte warms up between innings, the opposing teams will sometimes come to the front of the dugout to see this ambidextrous talent. The opposing teams want to see for themselves that a player can really throw with both arms.
Although Venditte can throw with both arms, he must use only one arm per batter. In Saturday’s victory over Bradley, Venditte struck out batters using both his right and left arms in the same inning. It was the second time in his young career that he accomplished the feat.
Still, in spite of all the attention, Servais is primarily impressed with Venditte’s dedication to the team.
“Pat has truly earned his opportunity,” Servais said. “He’s come from where he might have been the last man in our pitching staff last year to where, right now, he’s in the top six.
“It just shows you what a young person can do when he puts his mind to something. He’s a great example of what our program is about … he fits what we would like to see our players do during their experience here at Creighton.”
I'm surprised this didn't catch any interest. Especially since there's only been one pitcher do it, Greg Harris, in the majors. Not to say Venditte will ever play in the majors, but I think it's interesting as hell.
Here's an article on Greg Harris:
A lesson in switch-pitching These pitchers had a few tricks of their own for switch-hitters By Jerome Holtzman MLB Historian
An MLB website producer, Bill Ruhl of Miami, Florida, has asked "if there has ever been a pitcher who pitched with both arms? Kind of a switch-pitcher."
Greg Harris of the Montreal Expos, a natural right-hander, is the only pitcher in modern baseball history (since 1900) to throw with both hands in a Major League game. It was on September 28, 1995, against Cincinnati in the final week of the season when the Expos were 24 Â½ games out of the lead in the National League East.
The ambidextrous Harris worked a scoreless ninth inning in a 9-7 loss. Using a special reversible six-finger glove, which had two thumbs, Harris faced four batters, two right-handed and two left-handed. He allowed one runner, on a walk.
The play-by-play follows: Pitching right handed, Harris retired the righty-hitting Reggie Sanders who swung at the first pitch and grounded to short. The next two batters were Hal Morris and Ed Taubensee, both left-handed hitters. Throwing with his left hand, Harris walked Morris on four pitches. Taubensee carried Harris to a full count and hit a nubber in front of the plate. Harris switched back to his right hand for the righty-hitting Bret Boone, who grounded to the mound for the third out.
It was the next to last big league appearance for Harris, who was with six clubs and had a 15-year career beginning in 1981. Used mostly in middle relief, he retired with a 74-90 lifetime record, 54 saves and a 3.67 earned run average. He appeared in 703 games, 605 out of the bullpen.
Talking about it last week in a telephone interview from his home in Newport Coast, California, where he operates a weekend pitching camp, Harris said he strengthened his left arm when he was a teenager. "I did a lot of wood-working," he explained. "I sawed and hammered with my left hand."
But it wasn't until he was in his sixth big league season, in 1986 with Texas, after he got his left-handed fastball into the mid-80s, that he became confident he could throw both ways against Major League competition. But there were two strikes against him: (1) the belief he would be making a mockery of the game, and (2) there was no need for him to throw left-handed because he was consistently effective right-handed.
Bobby Valentine, then the Texas manager, told Harris he would allow him to parade his wizardry in the final series of the 1986 season. The plan was scrapped because the Rangers were in first place and fighting for the division title. Harris was traded to Philadelphia, where the management was indifferent to his desire.
His next move was to Boston prior to the 1990 season. The Boston writers, eager for a good story, each year for the next five years, pleaded with the Red Sox brass to give him a chance in a Spring Training exhibition game. General Manager Dan Duquette refused to oblige. "We pay Greg to pitch right-handed," Duquette insisted.
American League president Dr. Bobby Brown, a one-time Yankee infielder who batted .349 in 17 World Series games, was aware a two-way pitcher would have a rare advantage and would neutralize and diminish the effectiveness of every batter. Unwilling to weaken his kinship with the offense, Dr. Brown prepared for the possibility by issuing a directive to his umpires:
a) The pitcher must indicate which hand he intended to use. b) The pitcher may change arms on the next hitter but must indicate the arm to be used. c) There will be no warmup pitches between the change of arms. d) If an arm is injured, the pitcher may change arms and the umpire must be notified of the injury. The injured arm can not be used again in that game.
Harris' opportunity came in his last season, in 1995, when he was in his second term with Montreal. To be certain he would be ready, manager Felipe Alou alerted Harris in late August, a month before the event:
"Felipe said he wanted to see for himself how I would do and that it would be good for the game," said Harris.
According to the on the spot reports, Harris was baseball's first ambidextrous pitcher since Elon (Ice Box) Chamberlain in 1888. Chamberlain was with Louisville in the American Association, then a major league. He gave up a ninth-inning home run and lost 9-8.
It has since been established that Tony Mullane, with Baltimore in the NL, was Harris' immediate predecessor. Mullane, in 1893, worked the ninth inning and gave up three runs in a 10-2 loss to the Cubs. He also threw with both hands in 1882 when he was with Louisville. In 1884, Larry Corcoran, in a game when the Cubs were running out of pitchers, worked four middle innings, the record for longevity.
There were probably as many as a half dozen ambidextrous pitchers in the 20th Century who threw on the sidelines but never in a game. Among them were Cal McLish, a 15-year veteran who was with six clubs; Ed Head of the old Brooklyn Dodgers; Dave (Boo) Ferris of the Red Sox; Tug McGraw of the Mets, and Jeff Schwarz, who had a brief stay with the White Sox.
The ambidextrous Paul Richards, who later had a distinguished managerial career with the White Sox and Orioles, claimed that when he was in high school, in Waxahachie, Texas, he was featured in "Ripley's Believe It Or Not," after winning a doubleheader by pitching right handed to the right-handed batters and left handed to the left-handed batters.
When he was in the Minors, with Muskogee in the Western Association, Richards was confronted with the ultimate dilemma: the switch-pitcher vs. the switch-hitter.
Summoned in ninth-inning relief, Richards was ready to pitch right handed to Charlie Wilson, a switch-hitter. Wilson countered by crossing the plate and stepping into the left-handed batters' box. The amusement continued for several minutes as Wilson jumped from one side to the other.
Exasperated, Richards threw his glove on the mound and faced Wilson with both feet square on the rubber.
"I put my hands behind my back," Richards recalled, "and shouted, "I'll wait until you choose your poison."