Ty Cobb How to Hit a Baseball

How to

Hit a Baseball

by Ty Cobb


Ty Cobbís Batting Fundamentals is from a letter that he wrote to
rookie outfielder Sam Chapman on May 18, 1938

1. Donít grip your bat at the very end. Leave, say, an inch or
two. Also, leave at least an inch or more space between your
hands; that gives you balance and control of bat, and also keeps
hands from interfering with each other during the swing.

2. Take position at plate, especially against right-hand
pitchers, back of plate, and against a man with a real curve, you
can stay on back line of batting box. Now try to hit to
right-center. I donít mean you should place the ball in any one
spot, but start now practicing to hit your righthanders to the
opposite field. An inside ball from a right-hand pitcher you will
naturally pull, say, to left-center.

3. Donít slug at full speed; learn to meet them firmly, and you
will be surprised at the results.

4. Now, to hit as I ask, to right-center or center. You stand
away from plate the distance you can see with mindís eye that you
can hit the ball that curves on inside corner, to center. This
distance away from plate will allow you to hit the outside ball
to right. In other words, you protect the plate both on inside
pitches and outside.

5. Remember, the plate is the pitcherís objective and he has to
come to it. I use Ďback of plateí expression to mean towards the
catcher, away from plate to denote distance from plate towards
outside of box. Now, use a slightly closed stance, and keep a
little more weight on your front foot than back. That gives you
balance and wonít pull you away from curves. You are always in
position to give maximum drive.

6. Donít pull a curve ball from a righthander. The ball is
revolving away from you. Hit with the revolution and to right

7. Keep your left elbow cocked on level with your hands or even
higher. Never let the elbow down below the hands, and keep your
hands always well away from your body Ė keep pushing them out,
even with your body or back.

8. Keep your back leg straight. Of course, if you put your
weight more on the front leg, then the back leg will be straight.

9. If high fast balls inside really bother you: Crouch over
from waist and pass them up. Donít bite, in other words. In
crouching, you make the pitcher throw lower, which forces him
away from the position that bothers you. But I think with the
instructions I have give, you will hit them wherever they pitch.

10. Against a speedy left-hander: Donít pull. Use the same
stance I have given you, and when he throws you his curve, knock
him down with it or you will naturally pull it, as the ball is
breaking in to you. But against a left-hander of fair speed: Move
up in the box, also closer to plate, and pull this style of

Ty Cobbís Batting Fundamentals is from a letter that he wrote to
rookie outfielder Sam Chapman on May 18, 1938. It first appeared
in print in 1947. At .366, Ty Cobb had the highest lifetime
batting average of any player in the history of baseball. He won
more batting average titles (12) than any other player, and in
1936 he became the first player ever selected to the Hall of
Fame. Cobb played 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers and retired
as a player in 1928 following a two year stint with the
Philadelphia A's when, at the age of 41, he hit "only" .323, his
worst average since 1906. Cobb also became the first ballplayer
to star in a movie, Somewhere in Georgia, a drama by Grantland

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