In the history of Major League Baseball, there are only a handful of players whose abilities have been so unique that they have led to the need for the creation of new rules of the game. Pat Venditte was one of those players, with his unique ability to switch-pitch leading to a new rule unofficially named for him.
Venditte was not the first pitcher in modern baseball history to switch-pitch in a major-league game. That distinction belongs to Greg A. Harris, who demonstrated the feat once toward the end of his career on September 28, 1995, as a member of the Montreal Expos in the ninth inning of a game against the Cincinnati Reds.
Unlike Harris, the ambidextrous Venditte spent his entire professional baseball career fully dedicated as a switch pitcher. He played five seasons in the majors, finishing 2-2 with 58 strikeouts, and a 4.73 ERA across 72 1/3 innings, all as a reliever. Venditte pitched for Oakland, Toronto , the Los Angeles Dodgers, Seattle, San Francisco and Miami.
Patrick Michael Venditte Jr. was born on June 30, 1985, in Omaha Nebraska, to Patrick Venditte Sr. and Janet Venditte. The Venditte family, consisting of Pat Jr. and his three siblings (Tony, Katy, and Anna) resided in “Little Italy,” a small, historic neighborhood right on the Missouri River. Though Pat and his family attended St Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals games, Pat considered himself a Chicago Cubs fan growing up, thanks to the influence of the WGN television station which broadcast Cubs games nationally.1
His journey into the world of switch pitching began when he was just three years old. “It was 100 percent my dad’s idea,” Venditte said. “He had a love of the game and wanted to pass that on to me and wanted to give me every competitive advantage I could have and maybe seeing his [own] 5’7” frame, I don’t think he knew I was going to turn out to be 6 foot or 6’ 1,” so I think that’s how that started.”2
Venditte went on to say, “I am a natural right-hander. Everything I do right-handed. When I was young, I played musical instruments. Some studies indicate that playing instruments helps with developing the brain. I don’t know if that helps me be ambidextrous or not.”3
That sentiment was shared by Pat’s mom, who worked as a nurse. Janet had Pat play violin thinking perhaps this opened each half of Pat’s brain to the other side.4
According to Pat’s father, Pat Venditte Sr., “We were in the batting cage working out and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if he could do with both arms what he’s doing with one?’ I said, ‘Why not?’ Why couldn’t someone throw with both arms?’ 5
Pat Sr., a driving education teacher, loved baseball, having been a batboy in his youth for the Triple-A Omaha Cardinals and later a catcher in college. The Venditte home had enough land that the elder Pat set out on a quest to build a 70-foot-long batting cage outside. He had concrete poured, installed lights, and even managed to get a good deal on a pitching machine from Jim Hendry, then baseball coach at Creighton University, later to become GM of the Chicago Cubs. Pat picked up a radar gun from the University of Tennessee when they were in town for the College World Series. 6
Pat Sr. used special drills to hone his son’s switch pitching. He would have Pat Jr. throw footballs left-handed to build strength and muscle memory, and he would have him punt footballs left-footed to develop the leg kick needed for pitching.7 “I bought him a kicking tee, and he would place kick, both legs, 25 times, then he would punt the ball with both legs,“ Pat Sr. said. “I know it sounds easy, but, let me tell you, try and punt with both feet. It’s not easy.”8
Because Pat Jr. was homeschooled through eighth grade, his father was able to practice with his son daily, which Pat Sr. felt “made all the difference in the world.”9 In addition to the special drills, Pat Jr. would complete a training regimen beginning with an early-morning gym session, followed by 100 tosses with the right arm, 100 with the left, including long tossing.10
At age 7, carrying two gloves, one for his right hand and one for his left, Pat strode to the Little League mound and warmed up. Pat Sr. recalls that his son set one glove behind him, at which point the umpire called time-out to ask him what he was doing. The umpire made the youngster put one glove away saying that it could create interference.11
Shortly after, Pat Sr. sat down at a table with his son and asked him to place his hand on a piece of paper so that he could trace an outline around Pat’s hand with his fingers spread wide. According to Pat Sr., “I contacted a guy [at the Mizuno baseball glove company] in Japan. It was about a 13-hour [time zone] difference, and finally I hooked him one night. It was 12 or one in the morning here when I called. It took me three calls, and they’d answer the phone in Japanese.”12
Pat Sr. faxed the tracings of his son’s hands to the Mizuno company. Several months later, he traveled from his home in Omaha to San Francisco and picked up the glove after it was shipped overseas. The glove was constructed to have six fingers, or two thumbs and four fingers, with a small pocket in the center.13
Venditte wore these special-made gloves from Mizuno his entire professional baseball career, except for during his collegiate years at Creighton University in which the team gear was sponsored by the Louisville Slugger company, necessitating that Venditte procure his special glove from them.14
Venditte attended Omaha Central High School, where he was in Student Council and Orchestra. He joined the baseball team, compiling a 15-4 record during his senior year, earning All Nebraska Second Team Honors. 15
A walk-on at Division I Creighton in Omaha, Venditte spent his freshman year on the baseball team exclusively as a right-hander. According to then Creighton head coach Ed Servais, “The first couple times we were hesitant because of my respect for baseball. I didn’t want it to be a sideshow.”16 It was during his sophomore year on February 17, 2006, that Venditte switched arms while pitching against Illinois-Chicago, recording three strikeouts. He went on that year to throw both left and right-handed in 22 games while posting a 11.7 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio with his non-dominant left arm.17
The key to success during Venditte’s sophomore year was an adjustment made by his pitching coach, Travis Wyckoff, in which Venditte was instructed to drop down sidearm left-handed which enabled him to become more physically and mentally dominant. 18
Venditte’s junior year at Creighton was a resounding success with his earning a multitude of national awards including honors from Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and Rivals.com. In a school and All-Missouri Valley Conference record 38 appearances, Venditte finished with a 1.88 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 95.2 innings, including a 43.2 inning scoreless streak.19
Recalling his favorite game for Creighton, Venditte said, “It was during my junior year. We played Wichita State for the Missouri Valley Conference Final. We had yet never won a conference championship at Creighton. We didn’t have anybody else to start, so I started that game. I was typically a reliever. But that day I pitched into the 7th inning, and we were able to bring home our first conference championship.”20
Despite telling MLB scouts that he never intended to sign with a MLB club and instead wanted to go back to Creighton for his senior year, on June 8, 2007, the New York Yankees selected Venditte in the 45th round of the Major League Baseball draft with the 1,345th overall pick.21 Venditte opted to stay in college to further develop velocity with his left arm and to add another pitch with his right arm.22
Venditte finished out his senior year at Creighton with a 9-3 record and 3.34 ERA. He was again drafted by the Yankees, this time in the 20th round with the 620th pick, having finished his time in college ranked in the top-10 in Creighton University history in appearances (110, second), ERA (2.86, fourth), winning percentage (.724, fifth), wins (21, tie-fifth), strikeouts (255, sixth), saves (13, tied-eighth) and innings pitched (248 1/3, 10th).23
Venditte spent the next eight years (2008 – 2015) in the minor leagues and Mexico, making stops at nine different locations including Staten Island, Tampa, Charleston, Trenton, Scranton, and Nashville. Winter league stops in Mexico included time with Augilas del Zulia (2009-10), Augilas de Mexicali (2011-12), and Caneros de Los Mochis (2013-14). Combining his seasons of minor league and Mexican League ball, Venditte pitched a total of 702 innings, compiling a record of 45-32 with a 3.04 ERA. Throwing an assortment of pitches with a fastball in the low to mid-80-mph range from both sides, he limited lefties to a .182 batting average and righties to a .236 mark.24
The most memorable and history-making game during Venditte’s minor-league stint occurred during his professional debut pitching for the Staten Island Yankees, the Single-A affiliate of the New York Yankees, on June 19, 2008, at KeySpan Park in Coney Island. With the Yankees leading the Brooklyn Cyclones, a Single-A affiliate of the New York Mets, 7-2, the 22-year-old Venditte was called upon by manager Pat McMahon in the bottom of the ninth inning. Pitching right-handed, Venditte retired the first two batters he faced. Following a single by Nicholas Giarraputo, Cyclones designated hitter Ralph Henriquez came to the plate. Henriquez was a switch-hitter, leading to what was described by the New York Times as a “routine more vaudeville than Mudville.” 25
Henriquez entered the right-handed batter’s box, so Venditte converted to a right-handed pitcher. Seeing this, Henriquez then moved to the left-handed batter’s box, prompting Venditte to switch his glove to his right hand, becoming a lefty pitcher. This back-and-forth, cat-and-mouse game went on for several minutes with one of the SNY television station announcers proclaiming “This is becoming a comedy show right here. This is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time on a baseball field.” However, the comedy turned into confusion and even frustration until finally the home plate umpire forced Henriquez to bat right-handed, after which he struck out on four pitches to end the game.26
SNY television announcers prophetically postulated that “This might create a rule. This situation might create a change in the rule book.”27 Venditte, himself, in a 2023 Central High School Foundation Eagle Tales podcast interview recalled, “I remember before the game, one of the decision makers in the Yankees’ organization brought me aside and said that there’s no rule for what you do, so just keep switching back-and-forth until they come up with something.” 28
Sure enough, shortly after the game, the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation (PBUC), having consulted with a variety of sources including the Major League Baseball Rules Committee, issued,” OBR 5.07(f), later known throughout baseball as the “Venditte Rule.”
The rule has the following components:
- The pitcher must visually indicate to the umpire, batter and runner(s) which way he will begin pitching to the batter. Engaging the rubber with the glove on a particular hand is considered a definitive commitment to which arm he will throw with. The batter will then choose which side of the plate he will bat from.
- The pitcher must throw one pitch to the batter before any “switch” by either player is allowed.
- After one pitch is thrown, the pitcher and batter may each change positions one time per at-bat. For example, if the pitcher changes from right-handed to left-handed and the batter then changes batter’s boxes, each player must remain that way for the duration of that at-bat (unless the offensive team substitutes a pinch hitter, and then each player may again “switch” one time).
- Any switch (by either the pitcher or the batter) must be clearly indicated to the umpire.
- There will be no warm-up pitches during the change of arms.
- If an injury occurs the pitcher may change arms but not use that arm again during the remainder of the game.29
PBUC executive director Justin Klemm explained, “The basis for the rule is that everything the batter does, he does so knowing what hand the pitcher is going to throw with. He may not know what type of pitch is going to be thrown, or its location, but he does know which arm will be used. A manager selects a pinch-hitter based on that knowledge, and that is also how a switch-hitter determines which side of the plate he is going to bat from.”30
Venditte finished his 2008 season for the Staten Island Yankees with a 0.83 ERA in 32 2/3 innings. In 2014, during the Staten Island Yankees’ 15th season of existence, Venditte was named in a fan vote as one of their favorite players in team history.31
While Venditte was pitching in 2009 for the Charleston Riverdogs, a minor-league affiliate of the Yankees, assistant pitching coach Jeff Ware described handling him as follows: “It’s almost like watching two completely different pitchers because the mechanics are so totally different. All the charts are P. Venditte ‘R’ and P. Venditte ‘L.’ I treat him like two totally different pitchers. You know it’s one guy, but you still have to treat him like it’s two different pitchers. With Venditte, he’s not a flamethrower, but he has great command. The most fascinating part about him is, not only can he throw with both arms, he can locate and command pitches with both arms.”32
In 2014, after having bounced around between Yankees minor-league teams, Venditte became a minor-league free agent, signing with the Oakland Athletics who assigned him to their Triple-A affiliate, the Nashville Sounds.
Posting a 1.55 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 40.2 innings for Nashville, Venditte finally earned his major-league callup just shy of his 30th birthday. On June 5, 2015, Venditte made his major-league debut, pitching for the Oakland against the Boston Red Sox. Heeding advice he received from A’s catcher Stephen Vogt who, too, had toiled in the minor leagues for years before being called up to the majors, Venditte slowly walked out to the mound in the beginning of the seventh inning, savoring the moment.33
Starting the frame as a left-handed pitcher, Venditte got Brock Holt to ground out. He then switched to his right hand, allowing a single by Hanley Ramirez before he was able to get Mike Napoli to ground into a double play. Venditte came back out for the eighth inning, in which he tossed a perfect inning to finish off his debut. 34
In what might be the most comical error in newspaper headlines, an Oregon newspaper article detailing Venditte’s debut proclaimed, “Amphibious Pitcher Makes Debut.”35On August 30, 2015, Pat Venditte picked up his first major-league win, pitching two scoreless innings in an extra inning victory versus the Arizona Diamondbacks. In the same game, Venditte got his first big-league at-bat, striking out in the 11th inning, having borrowed a bat from teammate Marcus Semien.36
Venditte pitched 28 2/3 innings for Oakland in 2015, finishing with a 4.40 ERA. On October 19, 2015, he was claimed on waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Venditte appeared in 8 games for the Blue Jays in 2016, tossing 8 2/3 innings with a 5.19 ERA.
In an interview on the Moonlight Graham Show, Venditte recalled struggling to find his right-handed slider during his time with Toronto, crediting fellow relief pitcher and teammate Jesse Chavez with helping him. Venditte recalled Chavez telling him to throw the slider off his index. Venditte said, “My left middle finger is double jointed, so I was always able to spin that slider super easy. The right side was a battle. I started straddling that seam in between my index and middle finger and ripping off of that middle seam to try to create more spin and that bought me another 5 years [pitching].”37
On August 6, 2016, Toronto traded Venditte to the Seattle Mariners for a player to be named later, who ended up being Tim Lopes. With the Mariners, Venditte pitched 13 1/3 innings across seven games with a 6.08 ERA.
During spring training of 2017, Venditte was traded from Seattle to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for then minor-league outfielder Joey Curletta. Venditte spent 2017 in the Phillies minor-league system before he was granted free agency on November 6, 2017.
Twenty days later, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Venditte and later assigned him to their Triple-A Oklahoma affiliate. Venditte spent 2018 shuttling back and forth between Oklahoma City (OKC) and Los Angeles, posting a 4-2 record with 1.75 ERA over 51 1/3 innings relief appearances for OKC while pitching 14 innings across 15 games with a 2.57 ERA for the Dodgers.
Venditte recalled his best day in the major leagues, not including his debut night, as his time in 2018 with the Dodgers. “A couple innings against the Reds that led to seven different callups that year,” he said. “And then being there when we won the NL West in Game 163 against the Colorado Rockies, celebrating with Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner, and those guys.” 38
Venditte, who was not on the Dodgers’ postseason roster, became a free agent at the end of November 2018, signing a one-year major-league contract a month later by the San Francisco Giants.
Venditte pitched only 3 1/3 innings with the Giants in 2019, spending most of the year with the Giants’ Sacramento Triple-A minor-league team, where he appeared in 25 games, finishing 6-2 with a 2.85 ERA.39
In 2020, the Miami Marlins signed Venditte to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. The 2020 baseball season was shortened to 60 games due to the COVID outbreak. Venditte appeared in three games, tossing 4 1/3 innings with a 0.00 ERA. On August 18, 2020, in the sixth inning facing the New York Mets’ Pete Alonso, Venditte exited the game with a right oblique strain.40 This proved to be Venditte’s last appearance in the major leagues, as he retired in 2021 after going unsigned by a major-league club.
Venditte was inducted into the Creighton University Athletics Hall of Fame on October 9, 2021.
In addition to competing in college, the minor and major leagues, Venditte also played in two World Baseball Classic Tournaments. Being of Italian descent, Venditte became an Italian citizen so that he could play in the 2013 World Baseball Classic Tournament for Team Italy.41
In the first round against the United States, Venditte recorded the final two outs of the game in a 6-2 loss.
He appeared again for Team Italy in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. On March 11, 2017 in a game against Venezuela, Venditte, who had finished off the top of the eighth with a strikeout and pickoff, came back out for the ninth and struck out Miguel Cabrera. When left-handed-hitting Rougned Odor came out to pinch-hit, Venditte switched to his left arm, which didn’t work as Odor lined his first pitch for a double to right. Going back to right-handed pitching, Venditte had no better luck as Salvador Perez homered to left center for a 10-8 Venezuela lead.
Two days later, in another matchup with Venezuela, Venditte came on in the sixth inning to record two outs during a 4-3 loss. That loss ousted Team Italy from the tournament, leaving Venditte with a 13.50 ERA.
As of March 29, 2023, Pat Venditte resided with his wife Erin and their three children (Dom, Ella, and Clara) in Peoria, Illinois. Erin, a Peoria native, met Pat when they both attended Creighton. Pat enjoys playing golf and ping pong.42 He is an account executive at Pearl Technology, an IT solutions company.43
Last revised: September 12, 2023
This biography was reviewed by Bill Nowlin and David Bilmes and fact-checked by Jeff Findley.
In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Baseball-Almanac.com, SABR.org, ESPN.com box scores, and a number of other sources.
1 Josh Bucy, Eagle Tales, interview with pitcher Pat Venditte (podcast), March 29, 2023, https://chsfomaha.org/newsroom/ambidextrous-baseball-pitcher-patrick-venditte-chs-2004/ (last accessed August 7, 2023).
2 Tyler O’Shea, The Moonlight Graham Show, interview with pitcher Pat Venditte, (podcast), November 22, 2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=ooffaTTsBJ0 (last accessed August 7, 2023).
3 Dave Ammenheuser, “Sounds Switch-Pitcher Pat Venditte Promoted,” Tennessean.com, June 5, 2015, https://www.tennessean.com/story/sports/columnist/dave-ammenheuser/2015/06/05/ammenheuser-switch-pitchers/28537013/ (last accessed August 7, 2023).
4 Chris Jones, “Show of Hands,” ESPN.com, https://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/12845975/ambidextrous-nashville-sounds-pitcher-pat-venditte-rarest-mlb-skills (last accessed August 7, 2023).
5 John Strubel, “Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte really is the man in the mirror,” Charleston City Paper, May 13, 2009, https://charlestoncitypaper.com/2009/05/13/ambidextrous-pitcher-pat-venditte-really-is-the-man-in-the-mirror/ (last accessed August 7, 2023).
6 Jane Lee, “Switch-pitter placed on path early by dad,” MLB.com, March 11, 2015, https://www.mlb.com/news/switch-pitcher-pat-venditte-started-young/c-112007650 (last accessed August 7, 2023).
7 Eric Olson, “Creighton pitcher well-armed as a righty and lefty,” Pocono Record, April 28, 2006, https://www.poconorecord.com/story/sports/2006/04/28/creighton-pitcher-well-armed-as/53104251007/ (last accessed August 7, 2023).
8 Strubel, “Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte really is the man in the mirror.”
9 Mike Murphey, “Amazing Vendittes… Pat is Baseball’s Only Two-Way Pitcher & Dad Catches at Age 66,” RHWS23, https://royhobbs.com/father-son-teammates-venditte (last accessed August 7, 2023).
10 Lee, “Switch-pitcher placed on path early by dad.”
11 Strubel, “Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte really is the main in the mirror.”
12 Strubel. “Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte really is the main in the mirror.”
13 Jones, “Show of Hands.”
14 Bucy, Eagle Tales (podcast).
15 Bucy, Eagle Tales (podcast).
16 Olson, “Creighton pitcher well-armed as a righty and lefty.”
17 2008 Baseball Roster: Pat Venditte; Creighton University. https://gocreighton.com/sports/baseball/roster/pat-venditte/499 (last accessed September 6, 2023).
18 Bucy, Eagle Tales (podcast).
19 2008 Baseball Roster: Pat Venditte; Creighton University. https://gocreighton.com/sports/baseball/roster/pat-venditte/499 (last accessed September 6, 2023).
20 Bucy, Eagle Tales (podcast).
21 ”Yankees draft switch-pitching Venditte in 45th round,” Twin Cities Pioneer Press.com, June 8, 2007, https://www.twincities.com/2007/06/08/yankees-draft-switch-pitching-venditte-in-45th-round/ (last accessed August 7, 2023).
22 Bill Ford, “New York Yankees: Pat Venditte the Switch-Pitcher, Bleacher Report, January 13, 2012, https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1023057-new-york-yankees-pat-venditte-the-switch-pitcher (last accessed August 7, 2023).
23 2008 Baseball Roster: Pat Venditte; Creighton University. https://gocreighton.com/sports/baseball/roster/pat-venditte/499 (last accessed September 6, 2023).
24 Jorge Oritz, “Pat Venditte doubly grateful after making it as a switch-pitcher,” USA Today, June 9, 2015, https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2015/06/09/pat-venditte-switch-pitcher/28775919/ (last accessed August 7, 2023).
25 Vincent M. Mallozzi, “Double-Barreled Pitcher Provides Shot of Confusion,” New York Times, June 21, 2008, https://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/21/sports/baseball/21switch.html (last accessed August 7, 2023).
28 Bucy, Eagle Tales (podcast).
30 Benjamin Hill, “Venditte’s Versatility Prompts New Rule.”
31 Robert Pimpsner, “SI15: Catching Up With Former SI Yanks Pitcher Pat Venditte,” July 11, 2014, https://www.pinstripedprospects.com/si15-catching-up-with-former-si-yanks-pitcher-pat-venditte-1810/ (last accessed August 7, 2023).
32 Strubel, “Ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte really is the main in the mirror.”
33 John Hickey, “Looking Back to the Day Pat Venditte Altered MLB History with Both Hands,” SI.com, June 5, 2020, https://www.si.com/mlb/athletics/news/looking-back-to-the-day-pat-venditte-altered-mlb-history-with-both-hands (last accessed August 7, 2023).
34 David Hill, “Athletics History: Pat Venditte Makes MLB Debut,” Foxsports.com, March 4, 2020, https://www.foxsports.com/stories/mlb/athletics-history-pat-venditte-makes-mlb-debut (last accessed August 7, 2023).
35 Kirstie Chiappelli, Newspaper dubs Pat Venditte MLB’s first ‘amphibious’ pitcher, The Sporting News, June 9, 2015, https://www.sportingnews.com/us/mlb/news/newspaper-dubs-pat-venditte-mlbs-first-amphibious-pitcher/1ajf9elmb2o6i15kalf8h6jspy (last accessed August 7, 2023).
36 Jane Lee, “V for Venditte: Switch-Pitcher gets first victory, AB,” MLB.com, August 30, 2015, https://www.mlb.com/athletics/news/as-switch-pitcher-venditte-gets-win-at-bat/c-146400306 (last accessed August 7, 2023).
37 O’Shea, The Moonlight Graham Show (podcast).
38 O’Shea, The Moonlight Graham Show (podcast).
39 Mark Powell, “Giants Switch-Pitcher Pat Venditte Gives Update on Wife as She Recovers from Brain Hemorrhage,”12UP, July 23, 2019, https://www.12up.com/posts/giants-switch-pitcher-pat-venditte-gives-update-on-wife-as-she-recovers-from-brain-hemorrhage-01dggd6p1a4h (last accessed Sept 10, 2023). In 2019, Venditte took a leave of absence as his wife Erin was hospitalized for 16 days with a brain hemorrhage, from which she later fully recovered from.
40 Joe Frisaro, “Taxed Marlins ‘pen missing its ‘switch-pitcher’,” MLB.com, August 20, 2020, https://www.mlb.com/news/pat-venditte-has-right-oblique-strain (last accessed August 7, 2023).
41 William Boor, “Prospect Venditte proud to compete for Italy,” MLB.com, March 4, 2013, https://www.mlb.com/yankees/news/yankees-prospect-pat-venditte-proud-to-play-for-italy/c-42264382 (last accessed August 7, 2023).
42 Bucy, Eagle Tales (podcast).
43 Patrick Venditte, LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-venditte-865060ab/ (last accessed Sept 9, 2023).