Jim Gilligan Has Seen Pitching Evolution

Jim Gilligan Lamar Mound VisitBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

BEAUMONT, Tex. — For the better part of 38 years, head coach Jim Gilligan has been the face of Lamar’s baseball program.

The skipper has influenced the program since his playing days back in 1967 and recently announced that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2016 season.

Last season, he accomplished something that only 18 NCAA coaches in history have done by capturing his 1,300th career win.

Master Pitching Coach
Gilligan has been a master at teaching pitching throughout his career and was a former pitching ace for Lamar from 1967-68.

“I have gone through a couple of evolutions with my thoughts on pitching through the years.

“In the early ’70s, Bob Shaw was one of the pitching gurus at the time. I remember going to a clinic in Chicago, and his big thing was not allowing the lead lift leg in pitching to go past parallel to the ground. He then said to tuck the front shoulder, look down in the strike zone and pitch. It was a technique for getting pitches down in the zone.

“But it probably took three miles per hour of velocity off pitches. This spread like wildfire across the nation as velocities went down. Everybody was sort of bound up even though they were getting pitches lower in the zone.

“Then Nolan Ryan comes along and simply states that the higher his lead leg goes up, the harder he throws. He gave everyone permission to have big windups again as velocities went up. His left knee went so high that it nearly touched his left shoulder.

“If you look at the pitching mechanics of old Hall of Famers such as Bob Feller and Warren Spahn, their arms came back over their heads to start the pitching windup. Then the arms swung down and to the sides of their legs and back and then started forward again before the lead leg was picked up.

“There were a lot of little guys who could throw pretty hard in that era.

“Then pitchers started having the windup start with their hands near their stomach as these big windups went away for the most part.

“Another change took place when the slide step came into the game from pitchers. Some blame the slide step for a lot of the injuries pitchers were receiving. And they might be right.”

To read more of this article, purchase the March 11, 2016 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. It includes a great lesson he learned from former Atlanta Braves’ pitching coach Leo Mazzone as far as bullpens and why max effort bullpens may be hurting pitchers today, why a street was named after Gilligan in Beaumont, Tex. and how the Salt Lake Trappers set a professional record by winning 29 consecutive games when he was the coach.