Old farts can pitch too

This is my first post, and is my way of introducing myself to the rest of the forum. I am a 53 year old baseball player, and play in several leagues in the CT and MA area. One league is a 18+ and the other two are 30+. I’ve been playing since 2002, and started pitching in 2004. There seems to have been a real resurgence in 30+, 40+, etc. amateur baseball, based on the number of leagues that have formed since the mid 1990’s, and the number of great tournaments that interested teams of older players can play in. Check out some of the adult baseball web sites, such as MSBL, NABA, Roy Hobbs, as well as independently formed leagues across the country; it’s amazing! Check out www.qvotb.com, www.tnbdomeball.com and www.pvotb.com for starters.

As an older player, I hope this sparks some conversation that includes the some of the amateurs that have come back to game of their childhood and young adulthood. Players in the leagues I’m in have played college ball, had pro tryouts, played in high school, or haven’t played since little league. They are players of widely varying skills and abilities, but all love the game.

I am a pitcher, and have taught myself what I know by practicing, reading and watching. I consider Steve’s web site an invaluable resource for discussing and learning the craft of pitching. I workout regularly, and currently I’m continuing my off-season conditioning. I do weight work every other day, and do Jobe exercises on the off days. I normally do running also, in the gym over the winter, and outside when spring weather starts. However, I had achilles tendon surgery in December, so I won’t be running again until April. My seasons start in May, when I hope to be back to 100%.

For the older player, conditioning for strength and stamina is even more important if we want to compete and avoid injury. I’d love to hear from any of the older players out there that still play. When you look at players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jesse Orosco, Julio Franco, Ricky Henderson, Jamie Moyer and others that have extended their careers, it is obvious that the hard work is worth it.

I throw a four-seam fastball, two-seamer (sinker), 12-6 curveball, 2-8 curveball, a no-seam fastball (finger tips in the middle of the horseshoe of the seams-see Dr. John Bagonzi’s book), and a circle changeup. The pitch I’m most interested in improving is my sinker. I’ve learned that there are many variables that affect the movement of a pitch, such as grip (fingers and thumb), arm angle, length of fingers, velocity of the pitch, and release point, amoung others. I feel that my sinker doesn’t move as much as I’d like or expect, and wonder if I’m throwing it too hard, similar velocity to my four-seamer. My plan is to dial back the velocity slightly and concentrate on locating the pitch better and experiment with off-center grips. Has anyone out there had good success with sinker movement (regardless of age!)?

Good luck to all, young and old alike, this season.

Good for you! I wish you success and that you continue to enjoy this game as long as you can.

As for the sinker, some of the movement will depend on the size differential between the index finger and the middle finger. Pitchers with a middle finger much longer than the index will find it easier usually to produce movement on the ball without extra effort. If this is you and you still struggle to get movement, I would videotape your release and make sure you have good finger placement as you let the ball go. If this is not the case, there are a number of things that can be tried to increase movement.

  1. Try moving the thumb up the side of the ball. This will usually produce more arm-side run. Start slowly and keep creeping up the side as long as you feel comfortable with the release of the ball.

  2. Vary your grips. Try different finger placement on the ball—on the seams, across the seams, or in the horseshoe. Maintain two seam rotation.

I would start there but remember that it really comes down to finger placement at release. If you are getting around the ball, it will be difficult to make it sink or run with good rotation.

Good luck.

Cool stuff…regarding the “no seamer” , if you’ve got a nice shiny ball and some moisture happens to get on your index/middle finger, I would not be surprised if you got some good movement ( so I’ve heard! ) …