Program Report: Chas Pippitt – Baseball Rebellion

I was the worst high school baseball player…ever. After starting the first five games my senior season without a hit, I spent the rest of the season doing duty as the first base coach and ended the season hitless. It wasn’t until many years later that it dawned on my that use of readily available technology even way back in the early 60’s might have made a big difference in my performance.

For that reason I was very interested in the program that was billed to be about using technology to coach baseball.  Rotarian Rory Gillis of Durham Magazine fame, introduced her friend Chas Pippitt, the founder of Baseball Rebellion, a business based in Durham that provides individualized coaching designed for baseball players who want to improve their hitting.

Rory prefaced the more formal introduction with the story of how they met at UNC Asheville. Chas had gone to NC State as a baseball player but realized he was in over his head there and went to UNC Asheville where he was able to play more. A friend of Rory’s became Chas’s wife Megan, who was a guest of Rory at the meeting as was Chris Gennaro, the business manager for Baseball Rebellion. Rory told this story with a hint of mischief in her tone that matched Chas’s light tone as he told of the ups and down of getting to play regularly and then getting his business off the ground and growing it.

So, we got kind of a twofer here.  If you were interested in baseball, there was some fascinating information about how technology is helping players of all ages with their games. One insight that he shared was that most effective players it flyballs. Many of their training efforts are to help their clients get the ball up in the air and even how to place it where the fielders are not. They employ a lot of technology to make better hitters. In this case they invented a tee to help hitters adjust their swing to get their hits in the air.

One of the more interesting tidbits came in response to a question from Don Stanger about what they could possibly teach about hitting to some of the major leaguers who are clients of Baseball Rebellion? The answer has to do with improving body mechanics speeding up the swing and hitting the ball harder with adjustments to technique and practice, practice, practice.

The second part of the twofer was an interesting tale of building a unique entrepreneurial company using all kinds of advanced technology to create a “rebellion” in the way players of the National Pastime learn to hit the ball. He talked about renting barns in multiple locations, working around the livestock in poor lighting to help kids play the game. Today they have set the bar for a modern training facility and have players all over they world using their resources, many coming to Durham and others doing it remotely using recorded or live video. Cal Ripkin, Jr. sent his two sons and Manny Ramirez, a major leaguer for 19 years and still playing at 45 years old in Japan, was a client. Chas also mentioned that one measure of their success is the value of the college scholarships earned by their clients.

The company’s website, www.baseballrebellion.com, seems to be a bit of a work in progress but it has many posts with instructions and links to videos that could be quite helpful to coaches or anyone trying to learn the game.

So what was the technology that might have helped me. At the time I was mildly myopic and had glasses that I didn’t wear while playing any sport. It didn’t make any difference as a lineman playing football or during endless hours of pickup basketball.  Why it didn’t occur to me that they might be helpful tracking an 80 mph fastball or following a hard hit ground ball, I’ll never know. When I was even younger than that I had a taste of what it felt to meet the ball solidly and see it fly over everyone’s head so my ineptitude was very frustrating. Congratulations to Chas and his associates for making that thrill possible for so many boys and girls.

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