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Grant Olsen

Can an ordinary guy hit a major league pitch?

By Grant Olsen, KSL.com Contributor   |  Posted Sep 23rd, 2016 @ 11:59am


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PHOENIX, Ariz. — It’s easy to underestimate game speed in professional sports because all the athletes are moving at the same speed. Sure, they look fast. But how much faster are they than you and your buddies?

The simplest way to answer this question would be to insert a regular person into a sports scenario and observe the difference. For example, if your brother-in-law were plunked down onto the court in an NBA game, how slow would he be compared to the players? Could he even come close to guarding someone like Chris Paul?

With this type of contrast in mind, could a regular guy hit a professional baseball pitch? To answer this question, we sent a team of absolutely unprofessional athletes to Chase Field to take pitches from the Arizona Diamondbacks coaching staff.

After touring the stadium and meeting some of the players, our batters headed to the Diamondbacks’ batting cages inside the stadium. Our crew set up two cameras and made wagers on who would perform the best once the pitches started flying.

Eli, Sam, Grant and Spencer explore Chase Field prior to their batting practice. (Photo: Grant Olsen)

The rules were simple. Each batter would receive four pitches from the very professional who pitches to the Diamondbacks players in practice. The first three pitches would be medium-speed. The final pitch would have some real mustard on it. In the compressed space of the batting cages, it would be roughly the equivalent of a 90-mile fastball.

Our pitcher, Mark, was an incredibly nice guy. He’s been with the Diamondbacks for four seasons and seems to love his job. And while throwing the mellower pitches, he genuinely enjoyed seeing us get some hits.

But when it came time for each fastball, Mark’s smile would disappear. He’d squint his eyes like nothing else mattered to him than getting that ball past us. After all, it’s got to be a real downer for anyone in the major leagues to surrender a hit to a mediocre athlete.

Unsurprisingly, our batters faired quite well against Mark’s medium-speed pitches. But when the fastballs came burning in, the success rate dropped dramatically. Only one batter made contact with a fastball, while the others missed completely.

So can a regular guy hit a major league pitch? Sure, if they’re lucky. But it probably wouldn’t result in a solid hit. And it’s more likely that the batter would miss the pitch in convincing fashion.

Check below to see the results for each of our batters. And be sure to watch the video to see highlights of the action, including an epic foul ball to a cameraman’s face.

Batter 1: Grant

Prior baseball experience: Played one year of coach pitch in elementary school.

First pitch: Hit

Second pitch: Strike

Third pitch: Hit

Fastball: Strike

Batter 2: Sam

Prior baseball experience: Played Babe Ruth League up to age 12.

First pitch: Hit

Second pitch: Hit

Third pitch: Hit

Fastball: Strike

Batter 3: Spencer

Prior baseball experience: Played Babe Ruth League up to age 15.

First pitch: Hit

Second pitch: Hit

Third pitch: Hit

Fastball: Strike

BATTER 4: Eli

Prior baseball experience: Played a year of tee-ball in elementary school but quit before season’s end.

First pitch: Strike

Second pitch: Hit

Third pitch: Hit

Fastball: Ball deflected into cameraman’s face


Grant Olsen

About the Author: Grant Olsen

Grant Olsen joined the KSL.com contributor team in 2012. He covers outdoor adventures, travel, product reviews and other interesting things. He is also the author of the book “Rhino Trouble.” You can contact him at grantorrin@gmail.com.

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