The concept of a switch pitcher — an ambidextrous hurler who can switch sides of the mound using a unique glove — has become a popular baseball fascination since the rise of Pat Venditte, a two-handed pitcher who pitched for the A’s, Blue Jays and Mariners, and currently competes in the Phillies minor league system.
Perhaps sparked by Venditte’s success, or sheer imagination, there’s a new crop of (still rare) switch pitchers emerging in the game. Two of the more notable new switch pitchers happened to be competing at the recent USA Baseball Tournament of Stars, where, wouldn’t you know it, they faced off against one another with a tournament title on the line.
Kristopher “Kris” Armstrong, a right-handed pitcher who has transformed himself into an ambidextrous pitcher, found himself facing off against Anthony McNair Seigler, a switch pitcher and switch hitter. Armstrong, a star at the Benjamin School in Jupiter in South Florida, eventually walked the Cartersville (Ga.) star on seven right-handed pitches while Seigler batted from the left side. In fact, Seigler was the first batter that Armstrong faced.
The at-bat comes at approximately the 1:28 mark of this USA Baseball video.
The USA Baseball announcers in the video above claim that the Armstrong-Seigler at-bat was the first-ever matchup between two switch pitchers in baseball history. It’s not hard to imagine they are correct, though it’s also obviously very difficult to prove that.
Armstrong, a Florida commit, is a less traditional switch pitcher, if such a distinction exists. He likes to pitch with one hand for multiple innings and then will switch to his other hand if it provides a significant advantage against a forthcoming run of batters.
Conversely, Seigler, who has committed to Auburn, will shift from hand-to-hand batter-to-batter, and even has entertained the idea of switching back from one hand to the other if a switch hitter flipped sides of the plate against him.
For one at bat, they were locked in a unique battle of wits and wills, with Seigler coming out on top. Perhaps next time they can both switch their view by pitching left-handed and batting right-handed, respectively.