The Kid Who Batted 1.000 (almost)

My MLB At Bat app brought the above video to my attention today.

The brief description:

Jaime Barria and Brandon Belt face off in a 21-pitch duel to set the record for the most pitches in an MLB at-bat in the modern era

Here’s the NYT’s report on what happened: “21 Pitches, 16 Fouls, 12 Minutes: Brandon Belt’s Marathon At-Bat.”

Now that’s what I call some baseball — not these towering home runs the app usually tells me about.s-l225

It reminds me of one of my favorite books from my youth, The Kid Who Batted 1.000, by Bob Allison and Frank Ernest Hill.

I read it over and over when I was a kid, checking it out from the school library multiple times to do so. Then I went years without seeing a copy, and had thought it was something I’d never see again, until my wife found a dog-eared copy that had belonged to one of her brothers. So I got to read it as an adult, and enjoyed it just as much.

If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the story of Dave King, a farmboy who is discovered to have a weird talent: He can foul off any pitch thrown by any pitcher. He gets signed to a Major League team and leads it out of the cellar because he always draws walks — usually after wearing down and shattering the nerves of the opposing pitcher.

Finally, in the last game of the World Series, he hits a home run, thereby earning a batting average of 1.000 — albeit only in postseason play.

It’s great. If you can find a copy, I do recommend picking one up…

By the way, the real-life batter, Brandon Belt, didn’t quite equal Dave King’s achievement. After those 21 pitches, the Giants first-basemen flies out to right field…

4 thoughts on “The Kid Who Batted 1.000 (almost)

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    My one beef about that video is that while it shows every pitch, it’s edited down to leave out the time that passes between each pitch. I’d rather experience it more like real-time, so I can feel the tension, and suspense, build through the entire 12 minutes.

    One of the truly glorious things about baseball (which is simultaneously what many impatient moderns hate about it) is its pace. To show what it was really like, you need to show every second of the duel with the pitcher…

    1. Richard

      You really want to watch someone taking batting practice for 12 minutes? Baseball is about as boring as golf to watch… bowling is exciting in comparison.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        No. Nothing is as boring as watching golf.

        Although to each his own. My parents watch it, but they like all sorts of sports on TV. I just can’t get into it…

  2. Brad Warthen Post author

    Dang, I was hoping some people would get into this one. I loved that book.

    See if I throw y’all any more sports any time soon!…

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