Crazy Batting Practice Stories

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Baseball players, from the professional level on down, have spent countless hours perfecting their technique in batting practices and batting cages, as well as on the diamond. Over the course of time, even some of the greatest hitters in baseball have made mistakes in cages—from hitting a ball directly into a pitching machine to accidentally striking birds! Here is an overview of some zany baseball practice (and game) stories throughout the ages:

-In 2001, the giant legendary pitcher Randy Johnson was pitching a spring training game for Major League Baseball (MLB)’s Arizona Diamondbacks against the San Francisco Giants. All was going according to plan, until a pitch by Randy Johnson infamously struck and killed a bird with a pitch traveling at more than 90 miles an hour. Oops! This freak accident became a viral video, and is perhaps one of the most frequently discussed moments of Johnson’s likely future Hall of Fame career.

-Some things can’t be trained in the cages, and can’t be taught at all—they have to happen by an astonishing combination of factors working a player’s favor. An inside-the-park home run is one of them, and in 1977, the Texas Rangers’ Toby Harrah and Bump Wills both hit back-to-back inside-the-park home runs on consecutive pitches against the Yankees. This is the only time back-to-back inside-the-park home runs have been hit in Major League history, and it might never happen again! Usually such a home run only occurs, in modern ballparks, when an extremely speedy baserunner hits the ball just far enough from any outfielders that he is able to catch all the right breaks and sprint home without the aid of an error.

-The most recent entry on this list—on June 19, 2014, a bizarre occurrence in the Tampa Bay Rays’ batting cages made headlines. Not much has gone right for the Rays this season, and the astonishing coincidence of outfielder Matt Joyce hitting a toss from a pitching machine so that it caromed off the cage and back into the pitching machine epitomizes their poor fortune! The pitching machine simply reloaded the ball and shot it back out for another pitch while Joyce was still following through—strike one! ESPN and other news sources widely circulated the batting cage blooper.

Every experienced baseball player has a vast array of fun stories from their playing and practicing days. Come get in on the fun with Wheelhouse batting cages!