Opening Day weekend in Major League Baseball has ended. We have all had the chance to watch dozens of games, if you're as fanatical as me, that is.
While many of baseball's veterans are very much set in their ways as far as their normal daily routines are concerned, still many of them tinker with either their batting stances or their pitching motions over the offseason, trying to either figure out a mechanical issue or straighten out some sort of a hitch.
For hitters, for instance, some may try to adopt a more open batting stance, in order to get around on the inside fastball a little quicker. A pitcher may tinker with his windup, in order to get more drive from his legs or to use the windup to adjust his release point.
Whatever the case may be, many players in Major League history are very well known for their perceived strange batting stances or pitching motions, and no doubt that players will continue to come along who boast equally as strange stances or motions, or even some peculiar pre at-bat routine.
Mike Hargrove was known as the "human rain delay" for his routine of stepping out of the batters box after every pitch, rubbing dirt on his hands, rubbing the bat down, adjusting his crotch, his helmet and whatever else he could adjust before stepping back into the batters box again.
Anyone who remembers baseball history can recall the antics of Mark "The Bird" Fidrych, known for his many quirky movements around the pitchers mound, patting the dirt down around the rubber and talking to the ball.
With that in mind, we give you a list of the 50 strangest batting stances and pitching motions ever seen in Major League Baseball. The list is purely subjective, and no doubt you will chime in on other strange stances and motions as well. As always, we invite your suggestions and input.
For continuing coverage of Major League Baseball, follow Doug on Twitter @Sports_A_Holic.
For 14 seasons, Nomar Garciaparra drove fans crazy with his unstrapping and re-strapping of gloves, his toe-tapping with each swing, and touching the brim of the helmet.
However, like the old adage says: if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Considering Garciaparra's career batting average of .313 and back-to-back batting titles in 1999-00, there was no reason for him to ever change.
Aside from the fact that he just couldn't stay healthy, that is.
You probably haven't heard much of Sammy Gervacio. In 2009, in 29 games for the Houston Astros, Gervacio posted a 2.14 ERA in 29 appearances.
However last season, Gervacio only appeared in six games, with a 12.27 ERA, and he was among one of the first round of cuts by the Astros in spring training last month.
But the kid's pitching motion is funky, to say the least...
First baseman/outfielder Lee May hit 354 home runs during an 18-year career with the Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals, retiring in 1982.
However, May was known as much for his batting stance as for his hitting prowess. May's stance was likened to stirring a drink upside down with his bat.
For 12 seasons on six different teams, reliever Chad Bradford crafted a very nice career for himself, with a lifetime 3.26 ERA.
Bradford was also outstanding in postseason play, with a 0.39 ERA in 24 appearances.
But Bradford will forever be known not only as a submarine-style pitcher, but one who used to almost graze his knuckles across the dirt when he released the ball.
Jeff Bagwell was a fabulous hitter during his 15-year career with the Houston Astros, swatting 449 home runs, 1,529 runs batted in and a lifetime .297 batting average.
Bagwell had a batting stance where if you put a stool underneath his backside, he could have sat down perfectly on it.
Relief pitcher Kent Tekulve is best known for his years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, saving three games for the team in their World Series win over the Baltimore Orioles in 1979.
Tekulve is also one of only two pitchers in Major League history to make over 90 appearances in a season more than once (Mike Marshall was the other), the last time in 1987 with the Philadelphia Phillies when he was 40 years old.
Tekulve had a submarine style that stymied hitters throughout his 16-year career. Tekulve ended his career with a 2.84 lifetime ERA, and only in his first season (1974) and last season (1989) did he have an ERA over 4.00.
Stan Musial was without a doubt one of the greatest hitters in Major League Baseball history. Musial is third all-time with 3,630 hits, a lifetime .331 batting average, 475 career home runs and was selected to the National League All-Star team 20 times.
When Stan Musial went into his batting stance, he would contort himself so that his torso was actually facing the catcher, and the pitcher could see his jersey number (#6) almost facing him.
Musial had what was called a "peekaboo" stance, as he would peer at the pitcher over his front (right) shoulder.
It seemed to work well enough for 22 seasons.
Red Sox Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski had a pretty remarkable 23-year career, but the one season that forever defined Yastrzemski was in 1967, when he almost single-handedly led the Boston Red Sox to the American League pennant in a tight four-way race between the Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers.
Yastrzemski won the Triple Crown that season, the last man in history to do so, and captured the American League MVP.
Yaz also had a unique batting stance, one in which was perfectly described in a Baseball Fever forum by TonyK.
"Yaz would scoop up some dirt and rub both hands with it, then his right hand would tug at his pants leg while he dug in with his spikes. He often tapped his helmet with his left hand just to be sure it was still on tight. With only his right hand gripping it, he would lean over and touch the outside edge of the plate with his bat.
Both of his legs then began to rock back and forth. Up went his elbows and arms and his bat soared skyward. The pitcher and the TV viewers saw two legs moving in one rhythm while Carl and the bat were moving in another. This odd style seemed to produce a quicker bat speed and he would pulverize the ball when he hit it."
Yastrzemski's popularity in 1967 even inspired a song, written by Boston DJ Jess Cain.
Gil McDougald was an excellent second baseman during his 10-year career with the New York Yankees, winning the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1951. That same season, he became the first rookie to hit a grand slam home run in the World Series.
McDougald played on eight American League pennant winning teams, and five World Series championship teams.
McDougald also had a very unique batting stance in which he placed his feet much wider than his shoulders and held the bat flat, waist high.
According to TheBaseballPage.com, "McDougald stood with his legs far apart and wide open facing the pitcher, holding the bat below his shoulders near his waist at a perpendicular angle. He stood at the far back corner of the batters' box and used his long arms (he was 6'1") to cover the plate."
Former catcher/outfielder/designated hitter Mickey Tettleton was named after Hall of Fame player Mickey Mantle, but he was also nicknamed "Fruit Loop," because of his claim that Kellogg's Froot Loops were his source of power.
That wasn't the only strange fact about Tettleton. His batting stance was quite unique as well.
He would stand as straight as a toothpick in the batter's box, with his bat parallel to the ground. He would go into a slight crouch only when the ball was delivered.
Julio Franco played for eight teams during his 23-year career, and was a physical marvel, playing to the ripe old age of 48.
A .298 career hitter, Franco literally pointed his bat directly at the pitcher.
Unfortunately, Franco's batting style and size of bat used also contributed to an unusually high number of grounding into double plays.
Franco twice led the American League in grounding into double plays and was in the top-10 in that category seven times in the 1980s alone. He is seventh on the all-time list in ground-ball double plays and has just over 300 for his career.
Carney Lansford was the third baseman for the Oakland Athletics during their glory days of the late '80s, and also won a batting title with the Boston Red Sox in the strike-shortened season of 1981.
However, Lansford's batting stance was a sight to behold. Here is what Graham from Carlsbad, CA had to say about Lansford's stance in an ESPN forum.
"Head poking out like a grizzled turtle, his whole body twitching like he was anxious to get the seeing-eye single over with."
Oakland Athletics pitcher Josh Outman missed the entire 2010 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and was sent to the minors by the A's to start the season.
Considering the very unconventional pitching motion employed by Outman, many are not surprised that he needed surgery.
Outman's father is a big believer in the "Outman Methodology," an unorthodox style of pitching that he has researched for over 20 years.
Maybe he should go back to the drawing board.
Richie Hebner, a third baseman during his 18-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers, hit 203 home runs with a lifetime .276 batting average.
Hebner was the third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates when they won the World Series in 1971.
Hebner had an unusual batting stance in which he crouched very low and kept his hands down below his knees, almost at ankle level.
Hebner may be the only player I have ever seen that would hit the ball with his hands below his knees.
Interestingly, Hebner appeared in the National League Championship Series eight times, but won it only once (Pittsburgh, 1971).
Hideo Nomo became the first Japanese-born major leaguer to permanently relocate to Major League Baseball in the United States, and is generally credited with being the catalyst for other Japanese players to make their way into Major League Baseball.
Nomo made his debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1995, posting a 13-6 record, leading the National League with 236 strikeouts and winning the Rookie of the Year award.
Nomo's delivery was also the talk of the town, bringing his hands high above his head, twisting his torso back toward second base before delivering the ball.
Nomo also has two no-hitters to his credit, the only Japanese pitcher to date to throw a no-hitter in Major League Baseball.
In Ty Cobb's spectacular 24-year career, he amassed 4,189 hits, a record that stood until Pete Rose surpassed the mark on Sept. 11, 1985.
Cobb's lifetime batting average of .366 will likely never be broken, as he led the American League in batting 11 times, and hit over .400 three times during his career.
Cobb was very well known for his unique batting stance.
Here is how Jonathan from Somers, NY described Cobb's stance in an ESPN forum.
"His crouched stance, with its small strike zone and hands choked up (while spread apart up to 6 inches), with his bat held perpendicular to his spine, like a hockey stick fouling away everything until getting the pitch he wanted."
Kevin Youkilis, whom Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane once called "The Greek God of walks," in the book Moneyball, has become one of the better right-handed hitters in the American League over the course of his career with the Boston Red Sox.
Youkilis starts off in the batter's box with his back foot in the very back of the box, and with his hands a good six to eight inches apart until he gradually brings his right hand back down to meet his left hand.
Mike Hargrove, the American League Rookie of the Year for the Texas Rangers in 1974, was famously known as "The Human Rain Delay."
During his 12-year career, Hargrove would step out after every pitch and adjust basically everything he was wearing on his body. A Cleveland Indians fan aptly describes the famous antics of Hargrove.
"During a time in Indians history where we prayed that the games would be rained out, he would wind up fouling off about 10 pitches, making his at-bat a painful, miserable, never-ending cycle of adjusting his helmet, gloves, cup, socks, shoes, bat, and then ... rinse and repeat." LJ, Cleveland.
Mickey Rivers was a very entertaining player and a fan favorite during his 15-year career with the California Angels, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, winning two World Series with the Yankees in 1977 and 1978.
Rivers also led the league in triples twice during his career, and was known as "Mick the Quick."
Mickey was known for his very unique batting stance, where he would literally wiggle his hips back and forth before every pitch, almost in an Elvis-like fashion.
Satchel Paige finally broke into the majors with the Cleveland Indians in 1948 at the ripe old age of 41, one year after Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier.
Paige pitched for five seasons with the Indians and St. Louis Browns, making the All-Star team in 1952 and 1953.
In 1965, Paige started a game for the Kansas City Athletics at the ripe old age of 58. Paige threw three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit and striking out one.
Paige had some of the most unique pitching motions in all of baseball, famously called the "windmill windup."
Nicknamed Master Melvin, Mel Ott of the New York Giants hit 511 home runs during his career, good for 23rd on the all-time list.
Ott led the NL in home runs six times during his career, and also led the NL in free passes six times as well.
Ott was known for bringing the bat down to his waist and using a very high leg kick before each pitch.
When Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez was signed to a major league contract by the New York Yankees following his defection from Cuba, he opened eyes right away with his very unique pitching motion.
Hernandez would bring his left knee way up, almost appearing to hit his face at times.
In 1980, young left-hander Fernando Valenzuela was up for a quick cup of coffee with the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, in 1981, Valenzuela was a household name in LA as well as in the rest of the baseball world.
Valenzuela won both the National League Rookie of the Year and Cy Young awards, leading the Dodgers to the '81 World Series, where they defeated the New York Yankees in six games, with Valenzuela collecting a complete game victory.
The attached video shows the many looks that Valenzuela would give hitters during his windup, often looking straight up at the sky before delivering the pitch.
In just 10-plus seasons, Seattle Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki has already captured the all-time hits record for the Mariners, surpassing Edgar Martinez over the weekend.
Ichiro is also on track to become the first player ever to collect 200 hits in 11 separate seasons, having already collected at least 200 hits in his first 10 seasons.
Ichiro's pre at-bat routine has been the subject of conversation in Seattle ever since he made his debut, and even sparked the attached video commercial spoofing his famous routine.
Craig Counsell first became famous in baseball when he scored the winning run in the 1997 World Series for the Florida Marlins in the 11th inning of Game 7 on an Edgar Renteria single.
Counsell was also the NLCS Most Valuable Player for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2001.
However, Counsell will be forever known for his very peculiar batting stance.
Counsell had a stance where he pointed the bat straight up into the air as high as he can and moved it back and forth in an erratic fashion. While batting, almost his entire back was pointed towards the pitcher, though his feet remained perpendicular with the pitcher's mound.
Counsell has gone to a much more conventional batting stance, but in the attached video, you can see the pronounced style.
While Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams pitched for six different teams during his career, he is most known for his time with the Philadelphia Phillies, and the home run that he gave up to Joe Carter that gave the Toronto Blue Jays their second straight World Series championship.
Williams was a very effective closer during his career, saving 43 games for the Phillies in 1993.
But Williams was also known for his unique delivery and follow-through, during which he would often almost fall over after his delivery. The attached video gives an excellent example of his famed follow-through.
When Phil Plantier first came up with Boston Red Sox in 1990, he had a more pronounced crouch/sitting position than even Jeff Bagwell.
Plantier would later straighten up a bit more, and had one excellent season with the San Diego Padres, hitting 34 homers with 100 RBI in 1993.
Tom "Terrific" Seaver won 311 games during his incredible career, winning the 1969 World Series with the New York Mets, and winning his 300th game in 1985 with the Chicago White Sox.
Seaver had the type of delivery in which he used tremendous leg drive, using his entire body throughout his career. Seaver would often get so much extension from his right leg off the rubber that he would often scrape his knee across the dirt.
When Darryl Strawberry first broke into the majors with the New York Mets, he was a highly touted prospect with the ability to hit the ball a VERY long way.
Strawberry did in fact hit 335 home runs during his 17-year career, and he was also famous for his many off-field distractions as well.
Strawberry's stance was unique in that he would often kick his front leg higher than the pitchers during their delivery to him.
Rocky Colavito was a terrific ballplayer in his time, a nine-time All-Star with 374 lifetime home runs.
However, Colavito didn't necessarily have a notable batting stance, but had a pre at-bat routine that defined OCD before it became fashionable.
This according to Rob in Germantown,TN, on an ESPN forum.
"It wasn't just the stance, but the whole ritual. Before entering the box, he would place the bat behind his neck and across his shoulders and do a stretch. Then as he took the bat from behind his neck he would cock his neck from side to side. When he began his practice swings he paused longer than usual to point his bat directly at the pitcher and then slowly moved the bat to his final cocked position just above the shoulder level."
Dwight "Dewey" Evans, who played all but one of his 20 seasons with the Boston Red Sox, was an eight-time Gold Glove award winner and a three-time All-Star, known as much for his rocket arm from right field as his 385 lifetime home runs.
Evans may have also been the only ballplayer I ever witnessed who started out in his batting stance completely pigeon-toed.
Dean Chance was a terrific pitcher for the California Angels and Minnesota Twins, winning the American League Cy Young award with the Angels in 1964. Chance won 20 games twice in his career, and led the AL with a 1.65 ERA in 1964.
Chance was unique in that he generally broke a cardinal rule of pitching every time he threw the ball.
This, according to an article in TIME magazine in September 1964.
"Never take your eyes off home plate" is a cardinal rule of pitching, but Chance shrugs: "It don't make too much difference if I look at the plate or not, 'cause I don't see too well outa my left eye anyhow." Maybe not, but it makes a big difference to the hitters. "They don't know whether he's going to hit the plate or them," explains a rival pitcher.
When Dontrelle Willis made his Major League debut with the Florida Marlins in 2003, he dazzled the baseball world, winning the Rookie of the Year award.
Willis followed that up in 2005 with a record of 22-10, finishing second in the National League Cy Young award balloting to Chris Carpenter.
However, just three years later, Willis had seemingly lost his command and his form, and this season, Willis is attempting to make it back to the majors after being demoted by the Cincinnati Reds last month.
Maybe his quirky delivery has gone the way of the eephus pitch.
During the incredible 21-year career of Walter Johnson, he won 417 games, second only to the great Cy Young.
Johnson threw 110 shutouts, an all-time record, and led the American League in strikeouts 12 times.
Johnson had what many described as a rubber arm, starting 50 games twice during his career, and in 1910, Johnson started 42 games and completed 38 of them!
Elden Auker played for three American League teams during his 10-year career, the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Browns.
Auker's best year was in 1935, going 18-7 with a 3.83 ERA for the Tigers.
Auker was one of the original submarine style pitchers, and was particularly confounding to several hitters, including the great Babe Ruth.
After doing a fair bit of research, I was unable to find out exactly who this pitcher is, and I suspect that he never threw a pitch in the Major Leagues.
But I have a feeling when you see the pitch, you'll realize why I just had to find a spot on this list.
I just couldn't resist.
During his tremendous 16-year career with the New York Giants, Carl Hubbell threw what was considered the nastiest screwball in the business.
With a record of 253-154, and a lifetime 2.98 ERA, Hubbell was a lock for the Hall of Fame.
Due to his delivery, the way he contorted his body during his delivery and the whopping amount of screwballs he threw, Hubbell's arm was permanently disfigured by the time he retired.
Gary Sheffield, who officially retired this past March, hit 509 home runs in his 22 seasons with eight different teams, and was a nine-time All-Star during his career.
At the plate, Sheffield's bat never fully stopped, a picture of perpetual motion before every single pitch.
Dick McAuliffe, one of the most popular players ever to play for the Detroit Tigers, was a three-time All-Star and a very steady second baseman throughout his career.
At the plate, however, McAuliffe had one of more stranger batting stances ever seen in baseball history.
Neil from Brecksville, Ohio described McAuliffe's batting stance in an ESPN forum.
"Extreme backward lean. Lifted his foot like Mel Ott. Moved his bat faster than Joe Morgan pumped his chicken wing."
Bruce Markusen of HardballTimes.com said this about McAuliffe's stance:
"He used such an open stance that he practically faced the pitcher, like a left-handed version of a player of more recent vintage—former Orioles and Blue Jays third baseman Tony Batista.
As he eyed the pitcher, McAuliffe held the bat ridiculously high in the air, so high that it seemed like a caricature of a major league batting stance."
When Brian Downing was traded by the Chicago White Sox to the California Angels in December, 1977, he did two things: Underwent a rigorous weight training program, and dramatically altered his batting stance.
Downing had one of the most open batting stances in modern baseball, and it was largely effective, especially for the Angels in the 1980s.
Downing was inducted into the Angels Hall of Fame in 2009.
Brian Giles, who retired in 2009 with the San Diego Padres, had an open stance from the left side almost similar to that of Brian Downing.
Giles, a two-time All-Star during his 15-year career, started with his lead foot all the way to the extreme right side of the batter's box, gradually working its way back in during the pitcher's delivery.
Yes, I know. Sadaharu Oh never played in the Major Leagues. However, during his 22-year career with the Japan Central League's Yomiuri Giants, Oh hit a record 868 home runs.
Oh had a pronounced front leg kick that not only rivaled that of Mel Ott, but helped him to win 15 home run titles during his career.
It's hard to argue against what works for young Tim Lincecum, who is already a two-time Cy Young award winner.
At just 26 years of age, Lincecum has led the National League in strikeouts for the last three seasons, and has won 56 games in four years.
Lincecum's delivery is unusual in that he is a complete throwback to pitchers of yesteryear, and with the turning of his body with his back facing home plate, it makes his delivery that much harder for batters to pick up.
A farming accident took parts of two fingers from Mordecai Brown's right hand when he was a child, however he turned his handicap into a strength during a 14-year career between 1903-1916, during which Brown was 239-130 with a lifetime 2.06 ERA.
Brown featured a devastating curveball, and New York Giants manager John McGraw considered his own Christy Mathewson and Brown as the two best pitchers of that era.
Oh yeah, and Brown had a VERY unusual windup.
During Rickey Henderson's fabulous 25-year career, he scored more runs, stole more bases and hit more leadoff home runs than anyone in the history of baseball.
Henderson also had one of the most pronounced crouches in baseball history, which drastically reduced his strike zone and led to 2,190 walks, second on the all-time list.
While the more modern crowd came to know Joe Morgan as the analyst with Jon Miller for the last 20 years on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, the older crowd like myself watched Morgan and his famous chicken wing flap for 22 seasons as a player.
Morgan, a major part of the Cincinnati Reds' Big Red Machine of the 1970s, famous flapped his back elbow twice before each swing.
Houston Astros coach Nellie Fox taught Morgan a "chicken flap" of his left elbow while taking his batting stance, to remind him to keep his elbow high.
Say what you want about Chuck Knoblauch, the guy simply won wherever he played, first with the Twins in 1991, and later on three times with the New York Yankees.
Knoblauch was a scrappy hitter, usually batting in the leadoff position. However, Knoblauch had a batting stance that defied gravity. It was a wonder he could even get into position to hit the ball.
In a 16-year career during which he won 243 games, most of them with the San Francisco Giants, Juan Marichal was a feared pitcher, named to the All-Star team nine times and won over 25 games three times in his career.
However, Marichal is most famous for the highest leg kick in baseball history, with his foot ending up at least 12 inches above his head.
During the 12-year career of infielder Tony Batista, he was known for what was without question the most open batting stance in Major League history.
At one point during his career, Batista would line up with both his feet facing the pitcher, and the pitcher could clearly see the letters on Batista's chest.
There was no one in baseball who gyrated with the regularity of Cuban pitcher Luis Tiant. Tiant could seemingly look at everyone in the ballpark before actually throwing the ball.
Hitters were often befuddled, because they never knew what Tiant's arm angle would be.
So there you have it, the top 50 batting stances and pitching motions. As we said in our introduction, if there is someone you can think of that you remember, please let us know in the comments section down below!