My nine-year old son is becoming a baseball addict. The World Series - which he followed closely - ended weeks ago, but he has been endlessly sorting his baseball cards, asking me every few minutes who is better. He walks around mimicking throwing a ball, I suppose, perhaps, turning a double play, or perhaps throwing a slider to an imaginary hitter (he inadvertently smacked his brother in the face the other day with a sidearm pitching motion)
Which reminds me, I did the exact same thing as a kid. I walked around constantly turning two, or throwing imaginary submarine pitches, or even hitting invisible home runs over my kitchen table. So this tweet by writer Brandon Warne got me thinking:
Quote this tweet with the VERY FIRST baseball player mannerism you copied as a kid.— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) November 14, 2017
The batting stance from my childhood that stands out the most was Julio Franco, and I would suspect he was the first I tried to emulate. He held the bat high, in almost a yoga pose, waggling the bat in almost a mocking manner towards the pitcher. I don’t know how he ever made contact - the stance would cause me to violently swing and miss.
Danny Tartabull would also hold the bat up high, although not nearly as exaggerated as Franco. I would try to bat like Tartabull at times as well, although when I tried to do so in batting practice, my dad told me that when I had muscles like Tartabull that allowed me to get around on the ball like him, then I could bat like him.
George Brett was another popular batting stance of my childhood, with his lean-back stance taught to him by legendary hitting coach Charlie Lau. I also loved that he never wore batting gloves - something I also adopted, preferring the feel of the bat in my hands. When I began playing ball in high school, I remember mimicking Wally Joyner - not his stance so much, but the way he would wiggle the bat, holding it loosely in his hands in anticipation of the pitch.
Player mimicry is not limited to batting stances, of course. When I pitched, I adopted Kevin Appier’s rock-back old-school windup, which allowed me to use my legs more, but perhaps left me vulnerable to comebackers. When Hideo Nomo burst onto the scene, I even toyed with adopting the way he hesitated in his delivery, a slight hitch that could throw off the timing of the batter. And when I turned my imaginary double plays in the kitchen, I was Ozzie Smith with his rubber arm, flinging the ball from a side angle.
Who did you try to imitate as a kid?