Amazing Vendittes … Pat is Baseball’s Only Two-Way Pitcher & Dad Catches at Age 66
By MIKE MURPHEY
Roy Hobbs Baseball
Like almost everyone, Pat Venditte’s teammates are astonished that he can pitch with both arms. Playing in the New York Yankees farm system, Pat is the only ambidextrous pitcher in professional baseball.
But, Pat says, his teammates are also astonished when they learn that Pat’s father, 66-year-old Pat Venditte, Sr., is still an active catcher.
“He still plays in the summers,” Pat Jr. said, “and in the off season, he’s my catcher. It’s really nice to have my dad there every morning to work out with. Especially with all the snow in Omaha that time of year, it’s hard to find catchers.”
Pat Sr. is a veteran of the Roy Hobbs World Series who has been coming to Ft. Myers ever since the tournament has been there. At 66, he will play for Dan Rogers Sports in the Vintage Division of the 2011 World Series. He’s been catching since he was in grade school. He played college baseball in Peru, Nebraska, and as an adult, played fastpitch softball two nights a week and baseball on the weekends.
Pat Jr., he says, grew up 6 blocks from Rosenblatt Stadium, home of the College World Series, in Omaha. “He was a batboy there, so he certainly grew up around baseball.”
The ambidextrous thing began when Pat Jr. was 3 and his parents noticed he did things with both arms. So from that point, they had him practice everything – throwing, hitting, kicking, writing – from both sides.
“The key to it was that he was home schooled,” Pat Sr. says. “We’d have time to practice every day, and it made all the difference in the world.”
After high school, Pat Jr. was a walk-on at Creighton University, where he became a starting pitcher. He was drafted twice by the Yankees, first in the 45th round of the 2007 draft, but he declined to sign. A year later, the Yankees drafted him in the 20th round, and Pat Jr. began his professional career. He spent the 2011 season with the Yankees AA affiliate in Trenton, New Jersey.
Pat Jr. says his father’s biggest contribution to his career has been “just always being there to work with me, always being there to play catch.”
He’s left the nuances of coaching to other people, Pat Jr. says, but his Dad has worked tirelessly with him to apply what coaches have advised Pat Jr. to do. “The work ethic he has instilled in me is the most important help my father has given me along the way.”
Pat Sr. says it’s important that his son grew up seeing his father as an active player of the game rather than just a fan, and Pat Jr. agrees.
“That’s huge,” Pat Jr. said. “Whenever someone works with you every day, it’s imperative that you respect where that person is coming from. I never had to question that about my dad because he’s always been around the game. The fact that he still plays has helped my career immensely.”
Pat Sr. can’t imagine not playing.
“I still feel good when I swing a bat,” he says. “I can still catch a doubleheader. I can still do the same things today that I did when I was 20 years old. I may not be as fast or quick, but all the other elements of the game are there.
“Every time you put on a uniform, you have the potential to do something great, and I can’t think of anything that’s better on this green earth, because you are a part of something you will remember until you leave this earth. I’m in my 60’s and I’m going to be playing into my 70’s.
“How great is that?”