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Almost every article and thread on this site is devoted to watching other people play baseball. I was wondering if there are any people who play the game in any of its various forms.

Specifically, I was wondering if anyone else here plays in any beer league slowpitch leagues? I play in a couple and I absolutely love them. To me, they're the best part of summer.

Plus I have a question: I'm a right-handed hitter who has a natural tendency to pull the ball. Not a good thing, as I'm not a big guy, so it tends to result in too many long pop-ups to the left-fielder.

How can I alter my swing so I can start ripping line-drives between the first and second basemen?

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VBF - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 12:22 PM EDT (#120139) #
I play organized ball in Mississauga.

Pepper, try moving up in the box or perhaps a closed stance. At the point you make contact, your swing should resemble an axemen cutting a tree. You want to come down on the ball, and the follow through you make ultimately decides the leverage of the ball. Alot of less built team mates of mine also have this problem and one of the most common denominators is in their front foot and leg. Keep your leg straight after your stride and your foot closed. That will sustain your power.

sweat - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 12:32 PM EDT (#120140) #
I play in a senior men's baseball league, and have since i was 16. while there are a few 50 year olds in the league, its mostly guys 18-30. Pretty good competition, couple of guys throw up to about 85, but mostly pitchers are junk ballers. No beers during the game, but afterwords in the parking lot a case of beer is shared.
Moffat, if you want to start going opposite field, go to a batting cage. Most guys that pull the ball are stepping with their front foot towards third. Force yourself to step at the pitcher.
Jay - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 12:54 PM EDT (#120145) #
I don't play baseball any longer after breaking my right arm throwing a pitch during university. Now I stick to the beer league softball as Moffatt explains. In baseball I was a dead-red strict pull hitter, constantly hitting weak grounders to third a la Joe Carter and V Wells in their bad stretches. In softball I have adjusted my swing to push the ball between first and second. The trick (at least for me)? I start in the very back corner of the box as far away from the plate as possible. As the ball approaches I use that opportunity to take two steps in and adjust the stance at the same time, in effect closing up more. Logically, when the ball comes down, you would prefer to have your body as far up in the box as possible so that a natural swing path on the ball will take it the other way. Hope that helps.
Mike Forbes - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 12:58 PM EDT (#120146) #
I play centerfield and first base for my high school baseball team. Its the most fun I have in anything related to school. When I graduate, I'll likely join some type of gentlemens league or something... Provided they want Darrin Erstad with the glove and Willie Bloomquist with the stick. ;)
Pistol - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 01:19 PM EDT (#120148) #
I play in a slow pitch league. My team isn't all that good, 0-8 on the season. I did however hit my first career homerun last night - a shot over the centerfielder's head (no fence). It might be the first and last time that happens. The best part was the second time I got up to bat they played me really deep thinking that was my real power and I hit a lazy fly ball to center - only they were too deep to catch it and it dropped in for a double.

I mostly play LF. I don't have much of an arm, but I have plus range (at least for a softball league). I'm hoping to win a gold glove (except they don't give those out).

I'm also the team's stat guy. I keep a spreadsheet with each of the games and year-to-date totals. I even sort the hitting stats by OPS (which in this case is APS since there's no walks). The scoring is quite generous. There's no errors from the opponents and there's as many RBIs as runs.
Pepper Moffatt - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 01:27 PM EDT (#120149) #
Thanks for the advice, guys! It's really useful.

I think I am opening up too much. Particularly with my front shoulder. I'll try stepping more towards the pitcher. I particularly like Jay's idea of starting at the back corner of the plate and moving in. I can't move in too much because I have really long arms and I find if I do, I end up jamming myself and popping up.

RE: Positions. I'm the slowpitch equivalent of Alex Rios, which isn't surprising because we're built almost identically.

No walks in your league, Pistol? Weird. There's lots of walks in ours. I'm a total bat control guy, so I usually end up walking a lot because I very rarely swing until the guy has thrown a strike. Our team doesn't keep stats, but this year I'm batting around .700/.800/.950, which is pretty lousy power for slowpitch. :)
JaysNJets - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 01:44 PM EDT (#120153) #
I play in an Intermediate (ages 16-30) hardball league in southwestern Manitoba. The talent level varies but is generally quite high. Generally we see real good pitching with mediocre hitting and defense.

It is actually a really interesting league as all of the teams are drawn from fairly small rural populations. By way of example, my hometown team, the Waskada Orioles, is drawn from a population of around 300 people. It is basically the only entertainment left in Waskada, and we get fantastic crowds to most of our home games. Talk of the team dominates talk around town after a game, win or lose. The love of and identification with small town sports teams is actually a neat little facet of rural life that often goes unappreciated by my more cultured peers.

By the way, since everyone else is mentioning it, I catch and play shortstop. I am also anything but a dead pull hitter, mainly because I tend to have some difficulty turning on a good fastball.
sweat - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 01:50 PM EDT (#120155) #
I'm pretty much a play anywhere guy, as I joined the team after 2 guys that share time at 1b, I dont get my natural position. I pitch 3 innings or so every other game, and love playing center, as I see the ball off the bat really well from there. LF, RF, 3b as needed, as I have a pretty decent arm.
VBF - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 01:52 PM EDT (#120156) #
That is absolutely awesome, JaysnJets. My two biggest sporting goals in life were to play in a game in which people who were non-family or friends would come watch our team play, and the second one being a league in which I have my own Striding to the Plate music which would be "Girls Girls Girls", by Motley Crue(I'm dreaming, I know). I'm a slugging catcher with slightly a below average arm, but good power. If you put some catching gear on Matt Stairs, you'd probably get me.
alsiem - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 01:56 PM EDT (#120160) #
I would love to play beer league softball in downtown Toronto, probably too late for this summer but anyone know of a league.

Before all of you jump in, I mean downtown, near subway stations not Finch and Steeles. I don't have a car so getting to fields in the further reaches of the city for afterwork games would be impractical.

My employeer doesn't have a team, I'm not part of any social groups like some of my Jewish friends are and the Toronto Sport and Social Club use fields all over Toronto and you don't know where they are before you sign up so the travel problem presents itself. I'll be living out in the East end soon if that opens up any possiblities.

Thanks for any tips you may have.
VBF - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 02:03 PM EDT (#120161) #
On the topic of this, and not to steer the discussion away from Pepper's dilemna, would it be plausible to have a Batter's Box Softball/Baseball Tournament? We could charge something like 10 bucks a person for a diamond rental and give the rest to the Jays Care Foundation. We could make quite some money for them if we had 30-40 people.

We could even hold it in a park in Downtown, have it in the late morning, early afternoon, and then walk on over to the Jays game.

I write this post to the optimistic theme music of the 80s show "Street Legal".
jsut - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 02:07 PM EDT (#120162) #
I play pitch to your own team softball on a work team against a bunch of entertainment industry companies in toronto.
Tyler - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 02:14 PM EDT (#120163) #
Street Legal was awesome. Cynthia Dale in her Peter Mansbridge attracting prime...good times.

I play hockey. Does that make me unique?
Hamboy - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 02:25 PM EDT (#120170) #
I have played pitch to your own team softball with TCSSC and Markham Business League... and after few years of that, I started to look for more competitive hard ball league, but haven't found one.

I think the problem with pulling lazy flyball to LF is that you probably open up your shoulder too early. For me, to go to RF in slow pitch, I don't open up at all and don't stride. And swing in uppercut, which usually put it over 1B's head and in RF foul line for two bagger or three if I hussle.

And I think I brought this thought up before, but I agree that there would be nice to have Batter's Box ball tourney. Or just find a field and play ball. just a thought.
Pistol - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 02:27 PM EDT (#120172) #
No walks in your league, Pistol? Weird.

Yeah, a little weird. It's nice that you can't get on base without swinging the bat. It's bad because the ABs can take forever as you have unlimited balls.

I'm batting around .700/.800/.950

.700 and you need help?

In 30 PAs I'm hitting .586/.586/.897. For extra base hits I have 6 doubles and 1 HR - and most of the doubles are short line drives that I leg into doubles. I too am in the Alex Rios mold - 6'2", 175 pounds (or about 80 kg if I remember my metric conversions correctly).
Pepper Moffatt - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 02:34 PM EDT (#120174) #
.700 and you need help?

Sheer dumb luck/sample size. I've been missing a lot of gloves lately. I should be hitting around .450 the way I've been swinging.

The best was last week. In my first at bat I hit a LONG fly ball to left. The second at-bat, I belted one down the line fair and got a ground-rule double out of it.

Because of those two at-bats the left-fielder is playing WAY back. In my next at-bat I jammed myself and hit a high flyball that landed about 40 feet behind the third-baseman. I got a double out of it and probably could have made it to third, but I decided to be conservative. :)

ScottTS - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 02:41 PM EDT (#120176) #
I play in my company slow pitch softball league here in Ottawa. We're pretty bad (something like 2-6 right now) but it's a lot of fun.
I'm also a right handed hitter, and most of my limited power is to left field; if I go the other way it's usually on a pitch on the outer half of the plate.
This year I primarily play shortstop and occasionally pitch. I have decent range and a strong, but terribly inaccurate arm.
Oh, and I'm also coaching my 7 year old son's rookie little league team. Hands down the most fun I've had in ages.
Jacko - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 03:12 PM EDT (#120187) #
Hey Mike.

I'm also a right handed pull hitter with warning track power.

I agree with VBF and disagree with Jay -- move up in the box (towards the pitcher). It's much easier to hit the ball the other way when it's slightly behind you (conversely, think about all the weak popups you hit when you lunge at a ball that's slightly in front of you).

At first, it will seem a little odd to be swinging at pitches at are coming in at your eyeballs, but by the time your bat comes through the hitting zone the ball will have dropped down quite a bit. You'll be hitting screamers over the first baseman's head in no time :)
Gitz - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 03:33 PM EDT (#120191) #
I enjoy slow-pitch softball, but I haven't played in years, except for the occasional game where one of my friends needed a "ringer." I find my skills -- quick wrists, ability to switch-hit with power, good batting eye -- did not translate well from the real game. (Especially in that league with no height limit, as was discussed in "internal" Box e-mails.)

Playing shortstop kicks ass, though, and the defensive side of the real game does carry over well. I have a pretty strong arm, so there's nothing I dig more than being Rafael Furcal-lite: giving the hitter the false hope that he or she will beat out the grounder and then gunning them down by a half-step.

And yup: moving up in the box is the way to go, Moffatt.
Mick Doherty - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 03:40 PM EDT (#120192) #
I haven't played much softball since I was a player/coach for a church league team in Ohio four or five jobs ago. But the great thing about slow-pitch is that you can do all kinds of things you'd never think to do in actual baseball. Moffatt, when I hit a stretch of pop-ups to the third baseman, I'd just make a show of stepping into the batter's box, surveying the field, then grandly stepping over the plate to hit left-handed. You end up poking at the ball and just making contact rather than giving in to trying to hit it through the defense or over the screen. Plus it's fun to see the defense freaking out for no actual reasonable reason when you switch sides of the plate.

I remember very clearly hitting .450 right-handed and .700 (okay, N=7-for-10) lefty (also slugging .700 lefty, natch all bloop singles). It shakes it up a little and you'll be surprised how great it feels to (A) get a hit from the non-natural side and (B) to move back to the right side of the plate. It's like pinch-hitting for yourself.
Jay - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 03:48 PM EDT (#120193) #
A point of clarification...Jacko is correct that you want the ball behind you at point of contact and that is exactly my strategy. I begin at the back corner of the box but by taking two steps into the ball, I end up near the front of the box and also get two other advantages:

1) The step-in "should" add more power via the little bit of momentum it provides.
2) It allows you to adjust your stance (i.e. open/close) to better suit where you want to go.

I don't want Moffatt thinking I'm only prescribing stepping closer to the plate because the key is stepping forward through the box and not necessarily closer to the plate unless the pitch is outside.

By the way I should also mention that our team keeps great stats as well and prior to my last two stinky games I believe I was something like 687/715/1100...very small sample size though.

Alsiem...I play in the Beaches slow pitch league, which is supposed to be one of the best in tne city. Both the men's and mixed leagues have two divisions so it's pretty competitive based on your skill level. Many of the games are played this year at Dentonia Park (Vic Park subway) so it might be an option for you next year. I can't remember the convenor's name but his last name is Hale.
Pepper Moffatt - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 03:58 PM EDT (#120197) #
I'm glad I started this thread - you guys have given me awesome tips. I'm going to try moving up in the box before the next game and see how I fare in practice.

I'd try hitting left-handed, but I think my coach would have a fit. I've done it a few times in pick-up games with my friends and I find I generally just ground out weakly to the secondbaseman. If I'm going to ground out weakly I'd rather do it to third, as I have a chance to beat the throw.
Rich - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 04:03 PM EDT (#120199) #
I play baseball for Ivy, just outside of Barrie, in the North Dufferin Senior League, which basically runs from Aurora up to Collingwood. Small ball parks, and lots of 35+ pitchers throwing knuckleballs, but the league switched to wood bats 3 years ago so scoring has come down.

I can still hit for a decent average, but have noticed my power has dropped a lot since we moved to wood. I guess I'd be a Shannon Stewart / Rusty Greer type left fielder - good average, gap power, decent range and an accurate but weak arm. It gets harder to play due to family each year, but it's just too much fun to give up completely.

Jacko - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 04:19 PM EDT (#120204) #
1) The step-in "should" add more power via the little bit of momentum it provides.

Which, heretofore shall be known the "Happy Gilmour" batting style :)

I'll be looking for a new team to play with next summer, as close to downtown as possible. Is this the right thread to post league contact information in?

Jay - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 04:24 PM EDT (#120206) #
Happy Gilmour...that's exactly it. Let's face it MLB players would be shuffling into the ball if it were not so hard to do so on a 95 MPH fastball. Think of it this way, how many NHL'ers (if they still exist) during the skills competition stay stationary during the hardest shot competition?
Thomas - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 04:26 PM EDT (#120207) #
I'm looking for a decent league in Toronto (probably for next summer at this point). I'd like a somewhat competitive and friendly environment, but I'm nearing the point I'd settle for anything. I'd prefer something between softball and hardcore baseball, but I don't know if that exists. Even a decent softball league would be good enough for me.
VBF - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 04:38 PM EDT (#120210) #
But the puck is stationary, Jay. The baseball equivalent is hitting off of a tee.

The key to hitting is balance. Every person in baseball will tell you that. When you shuffle, you destroy all the balance that there is. If you were trying to hit a ball going 30 mph, you would be better off with one stride, and then contact.
Magpie - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 05:22 PM EDT (#120215) #
I'm the slowpitch equivalent of Alex Rios, which isn't surprising because we're built almost identically.

Lucky you. Menechino here...

I wish I was playing somewhere. I've been nursing a nagging problem with my left wrist since December, although I now think I can at least swing left-handed. Still can't play my guitar, though.

Jay - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 05:24 PM EDT (#120216) #
I agree the key to hitting is balance just as it is in golf, and taking a slapshot. It is not beyond the realm of possibility to say you can be balanced while achieving momentum. Is it better for an OF to catch and immediately try to throw out a tagging runner or should he time it so that he is taking a stride or two prior to catching the ball to get momentum? Same idea here.

If you watch the "professional" slow pitch players you will undoubtedly see the walk into approach utilized. Remember baseball, fastball, and slow pitch while having the same fundamentals are all slightly different. We're all used to the baseball approach of hitting but in fastball the ideal is probably the Ichiro like slap approach whereas the walk into is ideal in slow-pitch because the "slow...pitch" allows you to gain that advantage. Wow...I can't believe I'm getting worked up over this. ;)
crush_99 - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 08:28 PM EDT (#120234) #
I have been trying to re-work my swing recently and I came across this website... it is a frame by frame analysis of a "good baseball swing" - not sure how true it is but I thought I would throw it out there to see what other more experienced ballplayers thought...
VBF - Tuesday, June 21 2005 @ 11:54 PM EDT (#120243) #
Prior to last year, I went to a Baseball Clinic put on by Andy Lawrence (1st base, Mets AAA, 89-94). He's from Mississauga. Anyways, he taught me just about everything about a perfect swing. I have the steps genetically placed in my head as a result.

1. Stance - comfortable, bat 45 degrees, back elbow loose, knees bent, just over shoulder width apart. Chin to front shoulder.

2. Stride - 3-6 inches. Foot straight and closed. On balls of feet.

3. Trigger - aligned knuckles of bat brought back 4-6 inches on a slight angle. Happens simultaneously with stride.

4. Squish the bug - pivot of back foot. Chin begins to leave front shoulder

5. Contact - Bat extended completely. Bat level. Resembles chopping a tree. From the trigger to contact, hands make a stright line down, no uppercut. Eyes on ball.

6. Follow Through - Bat comes back around shoulder. Chin should touching rear shoulder.

I'm just blabbering on here, but by following these steps, I improved by swing efficiently by a vast amount.

Jay, I do agree, but as seen with Ichiro, when you take that approach, you do lose somethings. Eye contact and coordination for one, as well as power. If you're shuffling, your power will never be at your back leg, which is the key to good, heavy contact.
Lugnut Fan - Wednesday, June 22 2005 @ 08:36 AM EDT (#120260) #
I play in a Sunday slow pitch league. We play double headers. Lots of fun, but I played baseball for so long, that slow pitch is really hard for me. I just don't have the patience.
Rich - Wednesday, June 22 2005 @ 10:13 AM EDT (#120270) #
If you're interested in the mechanics of a good swing, be sure to read Ted Williams' classic, The Science of Hitting. It includes gems such as:
  • Why a slight upswing generates the most force and has the greatest chance of making contact
  • How and when to look for a particular pitch
  • How to use your hips to generate bat speed
When I was a teenager I would re-read the whole book every time I started to hit badly. Thomas, if you're interested in a Senior baseball league in Toronto that's competitive but not overly-so, send me an email at
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