2 Million Pitches And Counting For Ironman
 
By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball
(From Jan. 6, 2012 Edition)

STORRS, Conn. ó Many people feel Nolan Ryan was a genetic freak as he pitched for 27 seasons in the Major Leagues and threw his final pitch during the 1993 season at the age of 46.

But he couldnít hold a candle to Andy Baylock when it comes to longevity.

The former skipper at the University of Connecticut threw batting practice on a routine basis as the head coach of the Huskies for 24 seasons and another 16 as an assistant until he retired in 2003.

For 40 years, he racked up a pitch count well over 1.7 million, according to Collegiate Baseball computations. Collegiate Baseball averaged the number of pitches he threw per week during the allowable number of weeks during the fall and spring seasons in addition to individual workouts allowed by NCAA rules.

During his spare time during the summers, he threw batting practice for professional teams and teams in the Cape Cod League, Team USA, and a host of other events such as All-Star game home run derbies because he absolutely loves to throw BP.

With all the extra curricular batting practice pitching he has done over the years outside of UConn, his total pitch count exceeds 2 million pitches by Collegiate Baseball estimates.

Since he was a young man, he has thrown batting practice. Now at the age of 73, he keeps throwing and throwing and throwing. He is kind of like the Energizer bunny but with a lot more endurance.

It is not been uncommon for him to throw 400 pitches during a single batting practice.

In this day and age of monitoring pitch counts where 125 is considered the maximum for all pitchers in games, it is amazing that Baylock has never had an arm or shoulder injury related to throwing.

But his shoulder was injured once during a freak accident. He was moving a first base screen all by himself 12 years ago, and his throwing shoulder was jerked violently after a wind gust jolted the screen away from him.

"I injured my supraspinatus, one of the rotator cuff muscles, in my throwing shoulder. Something felt terribly wrong. So I went to a doctor, and he talked about having arthroscopic surgery. I put my foot down and told him that I needed at least 10 more good years out of my shoulder to throw batting practice. I told him he should just slice the shoulder open, repair the problem and sew that sucker back up the way itís supposed to be. And he did! That was 12 years ago, and my shoulder is better than it was before."

Baylock is still throwing hundreds of pitches during batting practices.

"I love throwing BP, and I am damn good at it," laughed Baylock, who has pinpoint control with an exceptional 4-seam fastball, cut fastball, slider and curve.

"A lot of batting practice pitchers put a couple of balls in their hand and step and throw. I use a glove and always pitch out of the set position which is more realistic to the batter. I come to the set position, let the batter get ready, and then I stride and throw. I am lucky to have good mechanics but even better genetics.

"When I was coaching baseball at Connecticut, I threw batting practice prior to every single game to a dozen or 14 guys with each guy getting at least 25 cuts. That is 350 pitches right there. I also threw batting practice many times during practices during the fall and spring."

1,500 Pitches A Week

Often times, Baylock would throw six days a week during fall workouts and six days a week during the season with a total of about 1,500 pitches during a typical 6-day span. The only reason he didnít throw seven days a week was because the NCAA demanded that teams have one day off a week during the season.

MORE ON IRONMAN: The full story of Andy Baylock can be read by purchasing the Jan. 6, 2012 edition of Collegiate Baseball for $3 (includes postage and handling) by calling (520) 623-4530. This issue also is the College Preview edition for 2012 and includes all pre-season polls, all the top teams and players in college baseball for 2012 and the top draft eligible players who may be picked in the first two rounds of next spring's Free Agent Draft, plus much, much more. A one year subscription to Collegiate Baseball is only $28.