Pitchers flew to Los Angeles from as far as Wisconsin, New Jersey, Long Island and Colorado for the second annual Charlie Hough Knuckleball Clinic. The clinic took place at Beimel Elite Athletics, a Major League Training Facility in the beautiful South Bay of Los Angeles.
Charlie Hough, 75, showed up at 8am on Sunday Morning, greeted the crowd and immediately started to dish out advice. He took each pitcher into the bullpen for a 12-minute one-on-one lesson. Many of the attendees wrote me after to say that it was an experience of a lifetime!
Charlie Hough pitched for 24 years in the Major Leagues for the Dodgers, Rangers, White Sox and Marlins. He threw the first pitch in Marlins’ franchise history by tossing a mid-60s knuckleball for a strike on opening day against his former team; the Dodgers.
He also served as Major League Pitching Coach for six years with the Mets and Dodgers. And Charlie’s never really been out of baseball. In between Major League stints, he served as Pitching Coach for Independent Professional Minor League teams, like the Fullerton Flyers in the now-defunct Golden Baseball League.
I work at Beimel Elite Athletics. I served as GM for a year before transitioning to Mr Interwebs to take the business online. Kenley Jansen comes into the facility from time to time and I asked him about Charlie. After all, Jansen publicly states that Charlie Hough saved his career when he transitioned from minor league catcher to potential Hall of Fame Major League pitcher.
Kenley simply said that Charlie made baseball fun again and you can see why. Hough has a very laid back disposition, a great sense of humor and loves pitching. He especially loves pitching the knuckleball.
The 75-year-old said that he hasn’t pitched in 30 years but still carries around a baseball to grip his favorite pitch from time to time. He even does it as a bombs down the narrow Southern California Highways which he says might not be safe. Bue he can’t help it.
Charlie was impressed with the passion that the group brought but he was especially impressed by nine-year-old Lucas Applebaum from Long Island. The kid can sling it and can even kill the spin with small hands.
Right behind him was 10-year-old Neeko Villarreal from Fresno. His dad, Jesse, runs JTV Screen Printing & Embroidery so he supplied everyone at the clinic with a commemorative T-shirt for the event. Charlie simply said, “I’ve got nothing to teach you. Keep doing what you’re doing.”
The delivery gets a little more complicated as you grow older and stronger, so Charlie had plenty of advice for High Schooler Beau Huckemeyer coming in from Parker, Colorado. Charlie was impressed with his mechanics and his knowhow, but encouraged Beau to slow things down in order to lock into the fine-touch feel of the pitch.
High Schooler Benedict Gaffney flew in from Morristown, New Jersey, with his father Brian. The Gaffney’s have been attending Knuckleball Nation clinics all over the country for years — working with the likes of RA Dickey, the Late-great Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, and Red Sox All-star Steven Wright — and Ben’s skill was on full display. Charlie was impressed, saying that he looked a lot like Phil.
College pitcher Jake Williams flew in from Madison, Wisconsin, with his father Corey. Jake has been working with me for more than a year and his velocity is creeping up as a result, and Charlie was impressed by his strength on the mound. We’ve been focusing more on velocity than touch. Charlie noticed right away. He also encouraged Jake to work on his touch more as a trains hard to increase velo.
Charlie Hough is now 75 years old. I’m hoping he’ll be doing these winter clinics with me for many more years to come but they are not guaranteed. I remember Phil passing rather unexpectedly, and I remember regret for not documenting his time with Knuckleball Nation better.
And that’s why I filmed this Charlie Hough Clinic.
I put a professional mic onto Charlie so you can hear all of his thoughts and advice. You’ll find a series of videos on the YouTube channel as I took more than an hour of footage.