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InsideCoroner

When Steve Carlton announced he was learning to pitch right handed

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In the late ‘80s, I remember Steve Carlton telling a reporter that he was teaching himself to throw right handed in order to extend his career. I seem to remember him saying that unlike his left arm, his right arm still have a another twenty good years in it — and he was serious. Carlton must have been over 40 at the time and he hung around baseball a little too long (he retired immediately after reaching 4,000 strikeouts, and then un-retired that same year and bounced around three more teams over the next two years). 

I can’t find any mention of this anywhere online, so I was wondering if anyone had any recollection of this. Steve was by all accounts a very odd guy and was so concerned with aging that he wouldn’t celebrate birthdays, and it’s a novel idea, but short of switch-pitcher Pat Venditte (who isn’t particularly dominant throwing with either arm) I have to wonder if Carlton was really convinced he could do it. 

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I  don't remember Carlton making such a statement, either.  He had a reputation for not talking to reporters, so it seems as though it would have been big news if he'd talked to a reporter about anything, let alone experimenting with pitching right-handed.

He did his talking on the field.  It's hard to think of any pitcher who ever had a better season than Carlton in 1972, when he went 27-10 for a Phillies' team that was 32-87 in games where he didn't figure in the decision..

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On 1/5/2021 at 4:51 PM, WillyM said:

I  don't remember Carlton making such a statement, either.  He had a reputation for not talking to reporters, so it seems as though it would have been big news if he'd talked to a reporter about anything, let alone experimenting with pitching right-handed.

He did his talking on the field.  It's hard to think of any pitcher who ever had a better season than Carlton in 1972, when he went 27-10 for a Phillies' team that was 32-87 in games where he didn't figure in the decision..

342 innings and 30 complete games.  I wish one of the leagues would mandate that teams couldn't carry more than eight pitchers, and deaden the ball and make the parks bigger.  Then have the fans pick which they like better: seven pitchers a game all throwing 98 mph with strikeouts and homers all over the place, or one or two pitchers a game trying to get through the lineup four times and many more balls in play.

And no, I have no recollection of Carlton saying he was learning to throw righty.  It couldn't have been serious.  I know there are a small handful of pitchers who've done that in the majors, half of them 130+ years ago.  But I can't imagine a 40-year-old Steve Carlton could throw in the mid-70s with his off arm.  I'm a natural right-hander, but played some outfield in softball left-handed after I injured my right arm.  My left is probably 60% as good as my healthy right.

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o

 

In the off-season between 1971 and 1972, reigning MVP and Cy Young award winner Vida Blue was asked if he would pitch for the Athletics in 1972 if Charlie Finley didn't pay him the money that he wanted. Blue replied, "Sure ...... right-handed."

 

o

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On 1/8/2021 at 7:11 AM, DrungoHazewood said:

 I'm a natural right-hander, but played some outfield in softball left-handed after I injured my right arm.  My left is probably 60% as good as my healthy right.

Actually, 60% is pretty impressive and trying to make the throws from the outfield.  Are you somewhat ambidextrous?  I can bat left handed, but I could never throw a ball more than 20 feet I would guess, left handed.  I am also right hand dominant obviously. 

I agree it would be almost impossible for Carlton to have switched pitching arms at that age, but it would have been fun to watch!

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22 hours ago, murph said:

Actually, 60% is pretty impressive and trying to make the throws from the outfield.  Are you somewhat ambidextrous?  I can bat left handed, but I could never throw a ball more than 20 feet I would guess, left handed.  I am also right hand dominant obviously. 

I agree it would be almost impossible for Carlton to have switched pitching arms at that age, but it would have been fun to watch!

I guess "somewhat ambidextrous" is a good way to put it. I eat with the fork in my left hand, can throw reasonably well lefty.  Occasionally batted lefty.  I've taught myself to use a computer mouse left-handed.  Sometimes I'll sit in boring meetings writing left-handed, but it's pretty bad.

I'd guess that I can throw a baseball about 100' left-handed, and can pitch from 40' or so lefty and get most pitches reasonably near the strike zone.

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1 hour ago, DrungoHazewood said:

 

I guess "somewhat ambidextrous" is a good way to put it. I eat with the fork in my left hand, and can throw reasonably well as a lefty ...... I've occasionally batted lefty. I've taught myself to use a computer mouse left-handed. Sometimes I'll sit in boring meetings writing left-handed, but it's pretty bad.

I'd guess that I can throw a baseball about 100' left-handed, and can pitch from 40' or so lefty and get most pitches reasonably near the strike zone.

 

o

 

The Hoboken Zephyrs could probably use you.

 

See the source image

 

o

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I’m not a great athlete to start with, but I do think I’m semi-ambidextrous.   I could throw a bit left handed, bowl close to 100 left handed without any practice, and punt decently with my left foot.   I’m not saying I was good at any of those things, but better than most people on my “off” side.   

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