The Boy Who Threw Strikes – Hang Loose Everybody, Hang Loose

Dougie Walsh had a new grip on the baseball that allowed him to experiment with a wide range of pitches. His youth coaches had always preached throwing strikes and pitching to contact. Dougie, with his insane accuracy, often took this advice too literally and was often on the wrong end of 10 run rule games as a starting pitcher. But if he could hone his skills with other pitches, off speed pitches, pitches with vertical movement, side to side movement, downward movement – well this is going to be a Dougie Walsh that everyone will be talking about.

Dougie went online and researched pitches like the slider, the splitter, the circle change up, also known as secondary pitches. Your fastball is typically your primary pitch, secondary pitches are off speed pitches. He grabbed a baseball from his bookbag and began to mimic the pictures. He watched videos of pitchers throwing sliders and splitters and change ups and slerve-balls, even the eephus pitch to see where their release points were. Then, he would go out to his garage, his backyard, and his pitching targets and practice. And he soon discovered that his new grip, courtesy of the stingers in his hand, would not disappoint him.

Dougie gripped the baseball with his thumb directly underneath the baseball while his index and middle fingers spread just wider than the seams on the top of the baseball. The Splitter. He got into his windup, extended his arm back, then threw the baseball like a fastball towards his pitching target. The baseball came out of his hand like a fastball, then decelerated about halfway to home plate, changing direction due South Southeast. A vertical drop then a change of direction away from a right handed batter with power. Priceless.

Dougie then moved his index finger next to his middle finger and made the slight grip adjustment under the baseball with his thumb. The Slider. He got into his windup, drew his arm back, extended his arm out in a curling motion, then released. The baseball was spinning almost sideways from his 3/4 release point and slerved across the strike zone into the netting in the top right quadrant. Dougie tried it again with a lower release point and the baseball slerved to the middle right then lower right, depending on his release point. A cool frisbee like slider to attack both lefties and righties. Awesome.

Dougie then palmed the baseball – all four fingers on the baseball and curled his index finger around the side of the baseball to touch his thumb. The Circle Change. All four fingers and his thumb would grip the baseball at equal strengths. Dougie got into his windup, drew his arm back, and released the baseball like a fastball. The baseball came out in a decelerated speed moving straight again, then down, then South Southwest. It landed in the lower left quadrant of the pitching target. Dougie moved to the left on the rubber and repeated his motion, this time the ball landed in the bottom center target. A downward trajectory with movement away from a power hitting lefty. Amazing.

Dougie was super pleased with new pitches and decided to work on a personal inventive pitch. He palmed the baseball with all four fingers and placed his thumb underneath. Then, he lifted up his index and pinky finger like a “hang loose” salute. Then his drew his middle and ring fingers back on the baseball so only the tips of his fingers touched the baseball. He got into his windup, drew his arm back, then released in a flicking motion. The spin off his hand took the baseball on a curve upward, then a spiraling spin downward into the middle target of his pitching target. It was a change up, it was a curve ball, it was a knuckle curve. Dougie named it “Hang Loose.”

The next day, Dougie went out to his accuracy obstacle course and began to throw these amazing new secondary pitches. His Splitter knocked over bowling pins. His slider swerved around an L-screen and knocked over bowling pins. His circle change knocked down pin after pin. And his new “Hang Loose” pitch floated right through his tire swinging in the tree in his backyard. Dougie laughed as his walked over to pick up his baseballs, “Hang Loose everybody, Dougie’s got something very interesting to show you.”

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The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.

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