A look back at some inventive methods (hello, screwbat!) for teaching fundamentals of the national pastime.
Ralph CraneCalifornia's Long Beach Polytechnic High School has long been an athletics powerhouse, and one of the key reasons for its baseball success in the 1960s was coach John Herbold's embrace of novel teaching tools and methods. (Pictured: A "screwbat," engineered to teach a hitter not to roll his wrists when he swings.)Ralph CraneCaption from a July 1966 LIFE magazine article, in which some of these photos first appeared: "Herbold cures Donzell McDonald of gun shyness by tying a rope around the player's foot. If McDonald backs away from a pitched ball, Herbold gives a sharp tug on the rope and tumbles the batter to the ground."
Ralph CraneMany of Herbold's techniques and instructional tools were invented by long-time MLB hitting instructor, Kenny Meyers. (Pictured: A catcher's mitt mysteriously lacking a pocket.)Ralph CraneLong Beach Polytechnic High School baseball players display some of the creative tools they employed while practicing.Ralph CraneLong Beach Polytechnic High School baseball, 1966.
Ralph CraneCaption from LIFE magazine: "To develop strength and stamina, Herbold loops an inner tube around waist of George Ambrow and hangs on.... All Poly players must be fast enough to run a mile in six minutes before they make the team."Ralph CraneCaption from LIFE magazine. "Jim Stanford flunks sliding test. If he came in flat on his back no soda pop would slosh out of the plastic tumblers."Ralph CraneLong Beach Polytechnic High School baseball, 1966.
Ralph CraneCaption from a July 1966 LIFE magazine article: "With a ball stuck to the end of a stick, Herbold makes a batter kneel to break a bad habit of uppercutting the ball. When he does, his bat hits the ground."Ralph CraneLong Beach Polytechnic High School baseball, 1966.