Just had an epic experience, sitting next to Mark Freakin’ McGwire for the day! What a stud. It was part of our mutual affiliation with True Diamond Science – a new bat company revolutionizing the youth baseball bat market. Long story short: They fit baseball players for bats the way golf club manufacturers fit adults. Measure the size, strength, and data from an athlete… and “fit” them with the bat that best matches their profile. Simple, yet powerful. Read more about True here.
Both Mark McGwire and myself serve on the Advisory Panel. You know, one former MLB slugger, home run champ, and nine year MLB hitting and bench coach… aaaaaaaand myself. 😬 Hey, we Dugout Captains are doing okay for ourselves!!! The movement is real. But, back to Big Mac and the crew.
This was the second event for True that I’ve done alongside McGwire and I can honestly say, “he’s a total bro.” What a humble, down-to-earth dude. And did you know: He actually admitted and apologized for his use of PED’s?!?!?! I had to Google that because I don’t remember ever hearing about it. Must have snuck that through the baseball ethos at the time of much bigger news. Needless to say, I was thrilled to read that he had come clean and even went so far as to call Roger Maris’ widow Pat to apologize for his actions. Because Mark Freakin’ McGwire is such a likable guy, I really wanted to forget his painful testimony before congress back in the day.
Mark is one of the rare few that has performed as an athlete, and also grinded as a coach. His resume is literally like no one else in this game, although tarnished by some bad decisions along the way. As a coach through the technology era (he retired in 2018), he’s had to embrace technology and all that comes with it… although he would claim himself to be a member of the “old-school.”
All that said, McGwire is fantastic and this round-table discussion with True was awesome. One thing that stuck out from McGwire’s comments was what he said was a key to his success of hitting the curveball. What was the magic drill?
Turns out, playing wiffle ball in the backyard with his buddies was the best training for hitting the off-speed pitch he could have ever imagined. Hours and hours in the backyard, just playing. Was he working on staying back, keeping the front shoulder closed, and loading into his backside? Heeeeeeck no, he was trying to beat the snot out of little Johnny from down the street. And they would play and play and play, until the sun went down and mom called them in for dinner. Sound familiar? I know it brings back great memories for me!
In an era where everything is structured, and sports has become like a job… play is such an important word. This helps to build a love for the game, because kids have fun. One major reason why this is fun? Because you and I are NOT there. There’s no one critiquing after a swing-and-miss. And there’s no one stressing after ball 3. Playing wiffle ball also promotes creativity, as kids need to pick teams, develop rules, and organize competition on their own. And then need to communicate, negotiate, and argue to make all this happen.
So maybe it’s a good time to encourage and allow a game of wiffle ball. Per a certain MLB hitting coach, this just might be the best drill to develop hitting the curveball. More importantly, this might be the best way to encourage your future home run champ to sign up for baseball again next season.