MICHIGAN CITY — The Michigan City Exchange Club met on June 18 at the DAV, Michigan City.
National Exchange Club President Scott Warren thanked the Michigan City Exchange Club for their 69 years of service to the Michigan City community. He also recognized several members who have diligently participated in Exchange for more than 25 years and presented to them individual resolutions as a thank you.
President John Sheets introduced fellow member Phil Freese as the day’s speaker. The former high school teacher and baseball coach of 32 years wondered out loud just how much members knew about America’s pastime. Rawlings makes 80,000 dozen balls a year; “they’re hand sown in Costa Rica” said Phil. Major League Baseball uses approximately 900,000 of the five to five & quarter inch spheres a year.
“The bat shall be a smooth round stick not more than 2.61 inches in diameter at the thickest part and no more than 42 inches long,” he said.
The most popular size bat in MLB is 34 inches long and weighs 32 ounces. The majority of bats are constructed of maple and the most popular manufacturer is Louisville Slugger. The major league goes through approximately 165,000 bats per season. Phil described in detail the components of the field including: home plate, all three bases, and the pitcher’s mound. He told Exchangites the distances from plate to base, base to base and the distance from the mound to home plate. The rubber atop the pitcher’s mound is 24-by-6 inches and the pitcher must maintain contact with it during his pitch. Phil described the strike zone and stressed that it is different for each batter; basically it’s from shoulder to knee and over the 17-inch-wide home plate. The former coach emphasized the speed of today’s major league pitch with some pitchers able to throw a 100 mph fast ball. Phil then displayed a poster depicting several different pitches including the fast ball, cutter, splitter, forkball, curveball, slider, screwball and the change up. Each pitch has a distinctive speed and also dips, slides, rises and spins in its unique way. Having this extra information should make watching the Cubs win all the more interesting.