New School Catching Techniques


New School Catching Techniques

The catching position is widely regarded as the most demanding position in the sport of baseball. It requires both physical & mental focus on every single pitch to be successful. That being said, the evolution of the position has been simultaneously subtle & drastic.  We are going to discuss some of the new school catching techniques that have been taking over.

Let’s start with one obvious new school technique. The one knee down approach to catching pitches.  Let me begin by saying I am open to any new technique that can improve the quality of the catcher, as well as, benefit the team and or pitcher.  I’m an “old school” catcher who used the traditional catching stances (primary & secondary).

With the adaptation of technology and the analytics used to grade catchers, it was only a matter of time before a new approach would be introduced. While we’re calling it “new school” this technique has been modified at the big league level before. With the most well known modification being former Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Tony Pena and his “kickstand “split stance used in the 1970’s & 80’s.  Safe to say it wasn’t used by many guys due to its difficulty. 

This stance could only be used by the most agile and limber catchers.

The one knee down approach has multiple benefits.  Firstly, it’s a less physically demanding catching position. I know what you’re thinking…”this stance makes you “lazy” back there.” This opinion is only true if the catcher isn’t being taught the proper use of the stance. The knee down stance should only be used by experienced catchers with the understanding that with runners on base, the traditional secondary stance still works best. 

Secondly, if taught properly, the one knee down stance can benefit the pitcher getting more strikes called. In this stance the catcher is lower to the ground. Therefore the umpire has a better view of the inside and outside corners of the strike zone. Especially with a bigger catcher behind the plate. Also, in this stance it may be easier for the catcher to frame pitches lower in the strike zone. If the glove starts lower to ground it’s easier to work up and make pitches look like strikes when they’re not. 

So, the synopsis here is that although the Major leaguers make the one knee down stance look easy. IT IS NOT.  It takes many reps in practice to perfect this stance.  

Please comment below and let us know what you think of these new school techniques or any others you would like us to discuss!! 

First County Bank Athlete of the Month – Jack Hoch

First County Bank Athlete of the Month – Jack Hoch

Our January, First County Bank Athlete of the Month for January 2021 is Jack Hoch. Hoch is a 17 year old senior, switch hitting, captain at Stamford High School. The leader of the Stamford Black Knights team is one the most diligent, respectful and hard working athletes we are blessed to have coming into the Academy. Hoch in his senior year has plenty to concern himself with; school work, applications and school interviews. However, Hoch is the only captain on the Stamford roster and has taken complete responsibility for his squad’s winter workout. He is both leading the charge but more importantly leading by example.

Hoch is a big, lean, strong athlete who has found a home in the outfield and on the mound. His ability to cover ground out in that wide open space and have nerves of steel on the bump make him a dynamic player for Coach Rit Lacomis this upcoming season. 

Lacomis had this to say, “Jack is extremely deserving of this recognition. He’s a tremendous baseball player, fantastic student, and even better person. Jack brings everything a coach wants in a player to the SHS Baseball Program and uses it to continuously make everyone around him better. He is someone that willingly leads his peers and is looked up to by underclassmen. Although Jack’s on-field contributions to the SHS Baseball team are important, his main value to our program runs much deeper.” 

Although, what makes Jack Hoch even more impressive than anything we could say about his baseball skill and acumen is the level of achievement in school and what he does off the field. Hoch maintains a 3.96 GPA with the lofty (but achievable) goal of going to an academically competitive college with the plans to study neuroscience this coming fall. The school has yet to be determined but Hoch’s drive and ability to persevere will make this endeavor an awesome journey for our Athlete of the Month.

Jack has lived quite a baseball life, starting out as the die-hard Mets fan those around him have come to know and love, his playing career started in Stamford at just 4 years old. Hoch played in what is formerly known as Springdale Little League (now Stamford North), then progressed to Stamford Babe Ruth where at 15 years old Hoch made the 18U roster. In addition, Hoch got a lot of experience from his fall seasons with the Connecticut Blue Jays in Hartford as well. The best experience of Hoch’s baseball life has to be his coaching the Stamford North Little League 10U All Star team, where he passed on his knowledge and experiences to each of those dedicated players.  

Coach Conte at Bobby V’s had this to say about Jack, “Jack is the kind of person you bend over backwards to make time to work with!  He schedules his own training sessions, maximizes every minute of his training, somehow finds time to work in some Met’s or current science banter and he’s walked to BVSA in the rain multiple times!  As a coach we get blessed with a handful of players who push us to be better coaches and people.  Jack is definitely one of those people! The maturity and dedication to excellence is something we can all learn from.  Can’t wait to see what he does this spring for baseball as well as through and after college, beyond baseball.  My personal prediction after baseball, he helps solve some major health crisis in the future!!”

It is exciting to see what the future holds for Hoch, but without a shadow of doubt it will definitely be a bright one. A lot of things to look forward to; a senior season, getting accepted to the right college, and starting that next chapter of his journey.  We at BVSA who have seen you coming in over the past decade want to say congratulations and that we cannot wait to see what unfolds very soon. It is great to have such a shining example of what hard work and determination can create!

Justin Virgulak

Justin Virgulak

Writer and Editor

Remembering 9/11

Remembering 9/11

Seventeen years ago today, a very quiet morning turned dark as the tragic news spread. At 8:46am the North Tower was hit and just seventeen minutes later the second tower was struck sending a mixture of emotions through every American’s being. Before an hour had passed since the first impact the Pentagon was hit and the fourth plane crashed into an open field. The horrific event now over, a feeling of sorrow sweeping the nation, and it was now time to start the restoration of a city brought to the brink of darkness.

Bobby Valentine, the then Mets’ manager expressed the same sentiment that many felt that day. “Fear, I think, was the first emotion, and sadness, and then a couple days later I think that anger started coming out. But the bus ride was surreal. That’s the easiest way to put it. It was something I hope I never have to do again, but it’s a lasting memory. I’m on that road often when I’m in New Jersey, coming back, and I always look at Manhattan at the exact same point that I looked at it in 2001, and the image lives on”, Valentine stated only days after the event. Valentine was the first Met to visit Ground Zero as he traveled down in a police cruiser that had alterations made to be able to carry down more supplies for first responders. When Bobby returned from the initial trip down he shared his experiences with the players and coaches.

Valentine said, “It had me experience fear at a level that I had never experienced, It had me experience anger at a level I never experienced and it had me experience sadness, again, at a level that I never had before. And then there was the confusion of what to do. And everyone in New York and the surrounding area, and I think a lot of the country, had that same dilemma. Do we go down to the recruitment center and sign up? Do we lock ourselves in our house? Do we lend a helping hand to those in need?” Even with the mix of these emotions Bobby lead the charge as the Mets helped in the relief efforts any way they could. Mets cleared debris and helped those in the surrounding area victimized by the tragedy. John Franco the Mets closer was quoted, “Bobby was a great leader, He had us out there, and even when we were done, he stood out there by himself helping everybody else, all the volunteers. It wasn’t something we were ordered to do, either. We wanted to do it, we wanted to help, and once a couple of us got the OK to go downtown, we went downtown — Bobby, John Stearns, myself, Al Leiter, Robin Ventura, Mike Piazza, Todd Zeile. We wanted to go down there just to thank the workers.” This lead to an unforgettable scene as the Mets and the first-responders exchanged hats and those hats served as symbol for the Mets who would go on and wear them the rest of the season.

Valentine’s relief efforts much like the first responders did not end on that day. As the Mets returned to action on the seventeenth, the restoration continued. Bobby reminisces on the days saying, “It was remarkable the way they were met, the workers there were working on fumes, going around the clock, and we know how desperate it was and how impossible it was, what they were trying to achieve.” Bobby would continue to give in anyway he could including adopting a family which he would help sparing no effort. Bobby took the Conroys in as if they were his own.

This is the man who we are fortunate enough to work for, the kind of person who will help you in whatever you need and never ask for a favor in return. He has an impulse to give as much as he can and continue to give without any expectation of a return. The horrific events only inspired him to give more and we should all use that as a reminder to do for others because it is the right thing to do. Bobby continues to lead by example through both the darkest and brightest of times. It is important to be thankful for his efforts and those of all the first responders who controlled their emotions and helped rebuild following the events back on 9/11.

There is a 90 minute special on ESPN tonight covering The Comeback Season at 7pm. Bobby highly recommends that everybody check this out if they can!