What was it like?

What was it like back in the 60s, 70s, and 80s? Pitchers weren’t engineered from college programs, they were homegrown. Did they talk about mechanics like they do now? Why is this stuff so important?

As far as I can tell, this stuff is important for reducing injury but for anything else, you just have to put in hours upon hours of hours of work. People talk about this stuff like it is the magic fix all the while forgetting that they just have to practice.


back when there were more minor leagues and semi-pro teams. they also spent time traveling and talking together more. the availability of information and the state of the art is way out there now, but youare right.

good mechanics without the work and practice to develop arm strength and touch are like dreams. important but not worth much money. if you have ideal mechanics and do not work, you can’t pitch very long, and if you do, it will still break.

Your guestion has great merit to it and relates a lot to todays playing environment.

I grew up in Western Massachusetts during the 1950’s & early 60’s, and we had a constant image of the game - youth and pro ball. Every kid that I knew had a glove in their back pocket or on the handle bars of their bike. A bat was just something that kind-a came with the times - if you know what I mean. Every nickel and dime store sold baseballs, and baseball cards were a “must” for fitting-in with the recess and lunch time crowd. These baseball cards were gold - especially for a favorite player. There were all kind of games like “flip the cards” where one kid would either match another kid’s flip out of the hand and land on the ground for match-ya heads or tails, etc. In any event, baseball was king and it shared every part of your language, your right of passage, the neighborhood, your ethnic backround, your toughness and that of the guys your hung around with.

As far as throwing, we did that all the time. We threw baseballs, rocks, and snowballs at every truck and bus that came within range. In addition it wasn’t unusual for any kid to pitch for a game - and I mean for an entire game. And as far as – stay closed — plant your stride foot — and this and that --, most of these kids developed a 50 caliber arm that just wouldn’t quit.

I should note that these were the times of hearing your parents say" it’s a nice day outside - get out!" So, you’d pack a cheese or peanut butter sandwich, take some change($) with you and buy a bottle of pop, and wouldn’t leave the park till dusk. We had baseball 24/7 just about. And I might add - by the time Legion ball came around, every post had at least 40 to 60 kids trying to make it. It was tough let me tell ya. I tried twice and was cut every time. Third time was a charm.

Legion tryouts were as tough as they were a test of your baseball rules, what-if situations, base running skills, etc. I remember the last day of tryouts was a meeting with four coaches - each asking questions about their specialty.

So, baseball back then had the attention span of every kid who wanted to be part of what was a big part of life - regardless if you lived in the city, on a farm, or somewhere in between. Today, baseball is important to some, but because of social, economic, cultrual and other things, it doesn’t share the kind of attention span that it once did. In fact, here in my neck of the woods is the cost of maintenance and upkeep of a ball field isn’t cheap!! Along the same lines is the cost($) of playing the game. Park and recreation departments charge field fees, insurance rates have skyrocketed, uniform and equipment costs are out of sight, and umpires are expensive. (no offense blue). Add to this a constant turnover in coaches who themselves are “just passing through” with their kids, and it’s no wonder we have some - no make that alot, of kids with the kind of injuries that are today.

However - without getting too far off the track here, you can make a difference in this sport. If you have any talent for pitching, catching, base running, infield, batting, etc., think about donating your time to a church league, youth organization or something similar. I’m sure the adults in charge would welcome you with open arms.

Coach B.

Nice post, Coach B!

I’d add a couple points:

First, it’s only been in recent times that high speed video technology and computer modeling of a pitcher biomechanics have been available. The advent of this technology offers a great tool to coaches who choose to take advantage. Application of this technology increases our understanding. Prior to this understanding, coaches had only personal experience and conventional wisdom to draw upon. It only makes sense that the information acquired from new technology would change how we teach pitching and how we manage pitchers.

Second, player salaries have skyrocketed in recent times. Players our now looked at and treated like the expensive investments that they are. This also changes how pitchers are managed because it tends to increase the caution used in managing pitchers.

Actually, back in the early 70s while playing legion ball they took movies of us throwing. It was a quite a shock for me to see my motion. I thought my motion was like Tom Seaver’s and it was really like Don Sutton’s. Throwing over the top, keeping the fastball and slider down and mixing in a 12 to 6 curve as I did, a Sutton type motion, staying tall with a relatively short stride was quite effective. Later in life, when it really didn’t matter I experimented with a longer stride and was able to pick up several mph.

I never received any real pitching instruction back then, not even when the Angels brought in two of the Lachemann brothers to work with our Rookie ball team.

Coach Baker, how do you play that “Flip the Cards” game?

I would imagine that was far different from the high speed video and digital capture capabilites of today.

Of course it was. But compared to what most people did it was a very big jump. I mean they just showed us the movie and it was up to us to make any changes but taking the movies was a big step.

Point taken.