At the heart of this venture are two new books available through Amazon, Hitting Secrets from Baseball’s Graveyard and Landing Safeties, by Dr. John Harris. The earlier book seeks to unearth the techniques of “strikers” who routinely logged 600+ at-bats in the 1890’s and first two decades of the twentieth century while fanning perhaps a couple of dozen times and flirting with a .400 batting average. This was typically done with a piece of timber at least a yard long and weighing three and a half pounds!
The more recent Landing Safeties applies the lessons of Hitting Secrets to produce a manual. Approximately one hundred photos are included. Everything from bat selection and the spread-handed grip to micro-managing the weight shift and how to avoid a brush-back is covered.
Raising his son through many of the years spent in gathering material for the book, Dr. Harris stumbled into some surprising connections between his research and the struggles that he observed in many smaller boys trying to compete in the “home run derby” variety of baseball that characterizes our metal bat era. Dan Brouthers, Napoleon Lajoie, and Ty Cobb were not short specimens, even by today’s standard; yet their highly skilled manner of shifting the long, heavy bat with clever hands and very mobile lower body action suggests a training regimen that–if rehearsed attentively–could put smaller players right back at the top of the line-up today.
Harris’s insights came too late to prove profitable for his son or any of his peers as they battled their way through high school athletics. One of his favorite hopes for the books, however, is that they may inspire the next generation of young “stickers” (as Cobb calls them) to break the existed mold and set school and team records.