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Saturday, December 29, 2012

BP? Mosley always answers bell

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For nearly six hours on Friday and another four on Saturday, the sound of wood smacking leather reverberated off the walls inside of jetBlue Park. Another familiar sound was that of many of those leather baseballs smashing into jetBlue's tall green left field wall, the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox's own "Green Monster."

Batting practice sessions are prominent on any Perfect Game showcase schedule. This weekend's PG National Underclass Showcase-Main Event schedule allotted for nearly 10 hours of batting practice over two days for the more than 400 prospects in attendance, an unusually large amount of time required by the large number of participants.

As the scouts took notes on every hitter who stepped to the plate the last two days, often forgotten was the guy standing out there behind a protective screen serving up those "meatballs" for the hitters to devour. And on Friday and Saturday, the prospects were given the opportunity to be served by a man widely regarded as the top BP pitcher in baseball.

Mike Mosley, a 51-year-old native of Sacramento, Calif., and current Georgia resident who has worked for several major league organizations, was once given the nickname "Rubber Arm" by legendary Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda to recognize Mosley's tireless efforts. The Guinness Book of World Records recognizes Mosley for holding the record for throwing the most BP pitches in under 9 hours.

The GBOWR recorded that in March of 2008, Mosley threw 7,003 hittable BP pitches in 8 hours, 33 minutes, a feat that earned him another nickname: Mr. 7,000.

"Firm strikes. It just takes throwing a lot of strikes," Mosley said when asked the secret to his success after throwing to four teams -- roughly 60 batters and maybe in the neighborhood of 800 pitches, an extremely short outing by his standards -- Saturday morning inside beautiful jetBlue Park.

"I've been doing this for 28 years in professional baseball," he continued. "When a hitter knows the strike zone, he can establish a strike zone and a swing to match it. Baseball is about repeating your swing over and over again, so my kids know the difference between balls and strikes before they even get to the play."

Mosley said he consistently throws 98 percent of his BP pitches for strikes and that he tries to throw a pitch about every 2 seconds. The Guinness record aside, he claims that in February of 2011 he threw 11,000 pitches in 7 hours, 56 minutes, and 9,000 were hit. That session was a charity event held to help raise money for the battle against breast cancer.

He has worked for the Dodgers, Padres, Brewers, Rays, Red Sox and Giants in addition to being the personal BP pitcher to individual players; former MLB All-Stars Barry Bonds and Mike Cameron are among them.

Mosley said he worked with Cameron for 17 years and is now working with Mike's son Daz Cameron, PG's top-ranked prospect in the national high school class of 2015. Daz Cameron, here this weekend performing at the PG Underclass-Main Event, will be working with Mosley for the next three years.

"It's a gift, working with the kids," Mosley said. "The kids are the future of baseball and I really love what Perfect Game is doing and I'm glad to be a part of it."

Another veteran BP pitcher also answered the call the last two days. Ralph Suarez, who according to PG national director of scouting David Rawnsley has been throwing BP at PG events for over a decade, pitched to 4 1/2 teams Friday and was expected to match that number again Saturday. In a blog entry posted Friday, Rawnsley called Suarez "a machine".

Mosley will be wrapping up his third decade of throwing BP here in the next two years or so. He's not ready to rule out another three decades.

"God ain't got nowhere for me to go yet," he said with a wide smile. "This is all I've ever done, is baseball."

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