Let me tell you an odd—and true—story about my own experience.
I had decided on pitching when I was eleven, in large part because while playing catch in the schoolyard one day I discovered that I had a natural sidearm delivery (and a nice little curveball that came attached to it). So I worked with it, figured out how to change speeds on it, and acquired a palm ball and a knuckle-curve on my own. I also picked up a few things from watching the Yankee pitchers and how they did things, and I discovered “The Secret”—how they generated the power behind their pitches by getting the whole body into the action. And, just from reading about how it was done, I picked up the crossfire—this is a beautiful and lethal move that works only with the sidearm delivery, and I got very good at it.
One Saturday I went out for a walk—the Yankees were on the road at the time—and I detoured to a couple of large parks near Yankee Stadium. I stopped to watch two teams getting ready for a game, and while they were whipping the ball around the infield the third baseman on one of the teams threw wild and the ball came skittering in my direction. I picked up the ball, and without realizing what I was doing I went into the full windup and threw a curve ball in the direction of the catcher. He caught it, but instead of throwing it back to the infield he came running up and wanted to know what that was I had just thrown! I started to tell him, and then the manager of that team—turned out he was a former semipro infielder with good baseball savvy—came up and wanted to know if I could stick around and pitch a couple of innings late in the game because his starter had to leave at the end of the sixth to go to work. I stuck around, and I pitched three scoreless innings, and in my own time at bat I walked and scored on the next batter’s triple. We won 5-2, and next thing I knew the manager wanted to know if I would like to play regularly with them. I said sure, I had free weekends and it would be fun.
I would up pitching for them for more than twenty years. This team was one of six, which might have been called semipro if everyone had gotten paid, in an independent league in the Bronx, and we played major league rules all the way which pleased me very much. I was the only girl on the team, but the guys didn’t mind one bit because I was getting the batters out consistently. Then, at age 16, came a breakthrough—because of my curiosity about the slider, I met Yankee pitcher Ed Lopat who showed me how to throw a good one, and he became my pitching coach for almost four years. What I learned from him was nothing short of priceless. Unfortunately, when I hit my mid-thirties I had to stop because my work schedule was catching up with me—but I have all those good memories!
So, yes, Gus, you can certainly get into an independent league next season—and you never know, it could be a shortcut to professional ball. Just stay in shape, refine your stuff, and go for it! 8) :baseballpitcher: