Here’s a great story for you jaded baseball buffs!
Jackie Mitchell, pitcher for the Chattanooga Lookouts, a minor league baseball team, struck out baseball legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig during an exhibition game. Born in 1912, Mitchell showed a talent for baseball from a young age. Her next door neighbor, future Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Dazzy Vance, taught her how to pitch as a girl, including his special “dr…op ball” pitch.
At 17, Mitchell joined a women’s team, attended baseball school in Atlanta, and was soon offered a contract by the Chattanooga Lookout for the 1931 season — one of the first professional baseball contracts given to a woman. It was during this season that Mitchell became famous for striking out two of the greatest baseball players in history Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, pictured with her below. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, the baseball commissioner voided her contract, declaring the game “too strenuous” for women. Jackie Mitchell continued to play professionally with traveling teams until her retirement from the sport in 1937.
There are two wonderful books for young readers about Mitchell’s fascinating story: “Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen,” a picture book for 4 to 8 (http://www.amightygirl.com/mighty-jackie-the-strike-out-queen) and an early chapter book “The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth” for 6 to 8 (http://www.amightygirl.com/the-girl-who-struck-out-babe-ruth).
Most amateur national tournaments have moved to wood bats. And there is a movement back to wood in the DC area where I play. Last year I discovered a local source of excellent bats, Baret Bats. I began to try them out and found that I liked them so much that I took them to the annual Roy Hobbs tournament last November. My article posted Nov. 26, 2014 has photos of me using a Baret Bat. Here is some info:
For the last two years Juan Baret has been perfecting the art of baseball bat making right from his home woodshop. Bat making is the next chapter in Juan’s lifelong passion for the game that has given so much joy in his life. Juan is a military vet and is the founder and bat maker of Baret Bats. This is a boutique style bat company that makes bats the old fashion way on a wood lathe and chisels, using the best available pro stock ash, maple and yellow birch hardwoods.
Baret Bats is a one-man operation that focuses on giving the individual player a truly customized bat, handmade to their specifications and hitting style just the same way the pros get their bats done. As a former amateur baseball player and coach Juan knows firsthand that the quality of wood bats available sold at retail are mass produced with inferior wood, and are not made unique to the individual. A main objective of Baret Bats is to give the same treatment to customers regardless of whether they are in little league or the major leagues.
Many amateur players have used Baret Bats and most are repeat customers who provide valuable feedback in improving the bats. Juan has made bats for two minor league players from the Potomac Nationals, for example.
Juan has mainly used word of mouth to promote Baret Bats, but as the business grows he is looking to include more visits to baseball teams in the DC area and a website. If you would like to know more about Baret Bats or to talk hitting you can contact Juan directly at (808)230-9904 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow his Facebook and Instagram pages @ http://www.Instagram.com/BaretBats or http://www.facebook.com/BaretSports.
November is when I really get serious about playing the game we love. This year well over 200 teams converged on Ft. Myers, Florida for the 26th annual Roys Hobbs tournament. It plays itself out over 4 weeks in 9 age divisions. Last year the organizers added a 75+ age division. This year a player claiming to be 80 years old hit a fly ball double over my head in left field! I was told later that he had played professionally. All games are played on major league spring-training fields. The website for the tournament is royhobbs.com.
My team is the Key West All-Stars, and most of us live in the Washington, D.C. area. We didn’t win many games but when we did, it was a “no-doubter” 20-8. The high point was a two-out rally when we scored 7 runs. Bill “spaceman” Lee (who pitched for the Bosox in days of yore) always plays in this one and I heard that this year he brought 2-3 other ex-major-leagers with him. There are numerous ex-pro players in the tourney
Last weekend, both UVA (ranked third in the country) and Maryland powered their way into the Super-regionals. For Virginia, one of the premier programs in the country, this is the 5th time in 6 years they have got that far. This weekend they meet in Charlottesville in a best-of-three series, which will surely be televised. The winner gets a berth to the College World Series in Omaha.
Note: I first saw Stephen Strasburg pitch in a CWS game where UVA beat him in the first round! He gave up several runs in the first inning (sound familiar?). That was in his last year at San Diego State, just before the Nats signed him.
Most of us who have played the game for more than a few years have been told this many times by coaches, players and others. What they are really trying to impart is this: If you want to really become a good player focus on just a few things, and trying to do them very well. Do not over-think what you are doing while in the middle of a game. Practice A LOT so that playing just becomes instinctual. Every time you are practicing have a few specific goals in mind.
That’s it. Got it?
OK, here is an extra-choice question for the fans: How is baseball like investing in the stock market?
Now that it has been a few days…Answer: Both baseball and investing can be very data analysis driven. For more information, click here for a great article on the topic of sports and investing By Bill Nygren–one of the best mutual fund managers in the business.