What Happened to Ambidextrous MLB Pitcher Pat Venditte?
Switch-hitting is a tough skill to master, but it’s common enough that no one in baseball gives it a second thought. On the other hand, so to speak, Pat Venditte is a genuine oddity. Venditte made it to the majors by being able to throw with either arm, an ability on the mound fans and general managers found intriguing.
The ins and outs of ambidextrous pitching
Pat Venditte pitched for five Major League Baseball teams from 2015-20, most recently with the Miami Marlins in 2020. He attracted interest each step of the way in his pro career because of his ability to throw to batters right- or left-handed. Making it more interesting, Venditte used to have two distinctive deliveries: over the top as a right-hander and more of a sidearm angle when going southpaw. Surgery on his right shoulder in 2012 resulted in Venditte dropping down to sidearm full-time.
Switching gloves while still on the mound would be cumbersome, so he has used custom, six-finger gloves with a thumb hole on each side.
The ambidexterity doesn’t carry over to other activities. Venditte told ESPN in 2015 that he is exclusively right-handed when writing or playing golf. When he had to hit in games, he batted from the left side.
Pat Venditte is ambidextrous but not amphibious
Pat Venditte gained notoriety in college and while working his way through the minor leagues, but the media attention didn’t reach its peak until he made it to “The Show” with the Oakland A’s in 2015 and got the opportunity to throw with either arm in an MLB game.
The development was apparently too exciting for a small-town newspaper copy editor to handle. After Venditte became the first player in 20 years to pitch an MLB game with either hand, the Pendleton (Oregon) East Oregonian ran the headline “Amphibious pitcher makes debut” over its recap of the game.
Aficionados of print malaprops frequently share the blooper on social media.
The debut performance also served to introduce fans to the “Pat Venditte Rule” written by the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation in consultation with the MLB Rules Committee. The NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations adopted similar versions.
In short, the pitcher must clearly show which arm he intends to pitch with and then stick with it for the duration of the plate appearance unless a pinch-hitter enters to complete the at-bat.
Not a lot of MLB innings, but plenty of attention
Although he has pitched in the majors for parts of five seasons in a six-year span, Pat Venditte didn’t log much time on the mound. He appeared in 61 games, all in relief, with a 2-2 record and 4.73 ERA. He struck out 58 and walked 28 in 72.1 innings.
Venditte was in the San Francisco Giants organization in 2019, appearing in two games in the majors. He signed with the Miami Marlins in January 2020 and was waiting out the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring and early summer when the Marlins released him on July 14 of that year.
With the team reeling from multiple positive COVID-19 tests, Miami re-signed Venditte, then 35, in August 2020. He made his final three MLB appearances that month.
Before beginning his pro career after being drafted in the 20th round by the New York Yankees in 2008, Venditte developed into a standout pitcher at Creighton. He went on to make 420 appearances in the minors, almost exclusively in relief, and posted a 40-32 record with an impressive 729 strikeouts in 641 innings.