Best batting stances

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This column is from ESPN.com today.

By Eric Neel
Page 2

My friends Kevin and Ted and I are at the Angels-Red Sox game in Anaheim the other night and a video tribute to Rod Carew comes on the big screen in center field.

"Look at that stance," I say. "I miss that stance. I miss the bat rocking in his hands the way a buoy dances in the water. He's barely holding on to the thing. Nobody has a stance like that. That's one of the great stances."

"Who else is on that list?" Kevin asks. "We're talking stance, we're talking anything before the swing. Who are your all-timers?"

A column is born.

Give me Stan Musial, with his hands apart, and his back to the pitcher, looking like the bat was a secret, like it was a bouquet of flowers he'd brought home to surprise his girl.

Give me Joe Morgan's flapping wing.

Give me ... Rickey Henderson, down low, with his hips swung back and his left leg stretched forward, like he wasn't hitting so much as assuming a yoga pose.

Ichiro, and his divining rod of a bat, seeking vibrations in the air and sensing holes in the defense.

The way Reggie pushed his helmet down, the way it seemed to say, "Otherwise, I'm afraid my head might fly clean off my shoulders on this next swing."

That little thing Matt Williams did, that sheepish nose wipe on his sleeve.

Sheffield and the metronome waggle.

Sadaharu Oh making like the Karate Kid standing on a pylon in the bay.

Brian Downing, looking like a high-speed collision of Christopher Reeve and Naim S├╝leymanoglu ... in Erik Estrada's shades, of course. Brian Downing doing a modified Al Simmons, with his front foot in a deep 'ol bucket, and a modified Leo Mazzone rock back and forth in the box.

The Babe, standing upright, with his caboose rattling in the back.

And I'll take Steve Garvey, too, just because it was so stiff, such a goof, so much like he's hoping, should Chad Everett back out, that maybe the folks at the San Diego Civic Light Opera will call him to play the lead in their upcoming production of "Casey at the Bat."


And I'll take Reggie Smith reaching for the sky.

And ...

Julio Franco, with his knees bent, bending the bat straight over his head so the pitcher can see the cue tip.


Jeff Bagwell, the crotchety old man sitting on the steps of the stoop, complaining about the heat, and scowling at those damn kids splashing around in the fire hydrant across the street.

Stargell's swivel.

Bobby Tolan making like Lady Liberty.

And Nomar working out his obsessive compulsive issues in front of god and everybody.

My old LBC friend Matt says I can't forget the way "Bobby Bonds kinda leaned over forward a bit, hands tucked into his waist with the 40-ounce bat pointing to the upper deck down on the first-base side, doing tight little circles sans batting gloves while cocking his head -- a 'You Have No Idea How Strong My Wrists Are' move."

He's right.

Bill James and Rob Neyer remember a guy named Frank Cipriano, who played just 13 games for the Kansas City A's in the early 1960s, and who dangled the bat way down over his shoulder, parallel to his back, like it was an arrow in a quiver.

Loyal reader Scott Ross, a big-time Red Sox man, says this list isn't complete without Yaz, "standing with his hands so high he almost cut a straight line in the batter's box."

And our baseball editor, Scott Ridge, loves the hole Willie Horton dug in the back of the box and the evil glare he shot out toward the mound, like he was saying, "I dare you."

I love Willie, too.

And I also love Tony Batista, whose right side is here to hit and whose left side is late for dinner.

And though I have little love for the man, I do dig Pete Rose's bunker-mentality crouch.

Which brings me to my last stance: George Brett's Lau lean. You know the way a slingshot looks, poised to launch a stone into your neighbor's window? That's Brett.

And that's my list.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some, and I'm even more sure there are some great ones I just don't know about.

Gear! (Gear!), Thursday, 22 July 2004 18:21 (fifteen years ago) link

I love this pic of Batista:

http://espn.go.com/i/page2/photos/040722batista.jpg

Gear! (Gear!), Thursday, 22 July 2004 18:26 (fifteen years ago) link

i voted for george brett on the sidebar, but only because willie stargell wasn't there.

mookieproof (mookieproof), Thursday, 22 July 2004 18:32 (fifteen years ago) link

fifteen years pass...

https://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/29174250/mlb-unique-batting-stance-quiz

9/10... this couuld have been harder, I missed a former Padre

Yanni Xenakis (Hadrian VIII), Saturday, 27 June 2020 17:26 (one week ago) link

9/10; same former padre

shall i spoil?
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could have picked a different counsell pic


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