The batter eyes the pitcher with determination and focus. With the bat in hand, the batter steps next to the home plate, swinging his bat a couple of times. The pitcher throws, but it’s too high. The batter readies himself again, while the pitcher takes his post on the mound.
The pitcher throws again; the batter gives it all he’s got and it’s out on the left field!
The batter was Bill Mazeroski. It was the bottom of the ninth in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series and Mazeroski made history by winning a World Series by hitting a game-finisher home run in Game 7. This landed him in Sports Hall of Fame. The New York Yankees were defeated 10-9 by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
What might’ve been interesting to see was how fast that ball was traveling when it went over the wall. If only there was a Stalker baseball radar gun back then.
What is the attraction of baseball? There’s the bigger leagues in basketball and almost a cult following in football.
Perhaps because baseball is played in summer and kids love summer. You can go to a baseball game, even at night, and you don’t have to be all bundled up because the weather is balmy. You have a couple of hotdogs and soda, and generally enjoy the game, which you can actually do because it’s not as adrenaline-pumping as basketball or football. Baseball games can last for three to four hours, and in between the action, you can talk to your fellow fans and eat.
Baseball and Home Runs
It’s different if you’re in the dug-out. Pressure is pressure wherever you may go, especially in sports these days. Professional athletes are expected to produce a history-making shot or another record-breaking home run. So how did Mazeroski do it?
Here are a few tips to get you started on your journey towards hitting a similar home run:
1. The Right Grip
Your little league coach might’ve given you pointers on this, as this is essential to hitting the ball, not even considering the home run. Be sure to grip the bat using both hands, nearest the bottom of the bat. On top will be your dominant hand. Line up your upper hand’s middle knuckles with the bottom knuckles of your bottom hand.
The bat should be up, in front of you, with elbows approximately level with mid-chest. The bat should be no more than a foot away from your chest (8-12 inches is a good distance). If you want power, keep the bat high.
2. The Right Stance
Legs should be a bit wider than shoulder-width, with toes pointing towards the home base plate. As you are facing to the side, so should your feet. Keeping your weight towards the back, (not leaning forward), make sure your weight is on the balls of your feet.
Elbows and knees must not be tensed-up and they should be slightly bent to allow you to move fast and smooth when the pitcher throws. Now, turn your eyes and head directly towards the pitcher. This is eye-hand coordination—you must see the ball coming in order to hit it.
3. The Right Swing
When it comes, it comes fast. Watch the ball while it flies towards you. If you tend to step, time it—your step should end when the pitcher’s leg touches the ground. Your swing should start through the hips, with power being transferred from the legs to the torso. Your back foot should pivot on the toe. At this point, your hips will be pointed towards the pitcher. Your weight will shift towards your front foot.
Your lower arm should guide the swing of the bat towards the ball and matching your lower hand with the ball’s trajectory is key. Swing through the ball, not at it. You are going for the lower two-thirds of the ball as this will give it backspin, which will make it fly towards the bleachers.