Oak Hall player sets national record -- getting hit by a pitch 55 times
Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 7:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 7:19 p.m.
Lucas Weitzel had two hits, scored once and drove in a run to help Oak Hall knock off Bell, 8-3, on Tuesday night.
But the two hits the junior third baseman will be remembered for came in the first and sixth innings. That was when he was hit by pitches.
The second time Weitzel got plunked actually put him in the National Federation of State High School Associations baseball record book. It was the 55th time he has been hit by a pitch in his prep career, setting the national record. It was the 12th time this season.
The previous record of 54 was held by Blake Heitmeier of Mount Pleasant, Iowa, who broke the record between 2006 and 2009, according to NFHS.
"It is a record that I am very excited about, and it is ironic, essentially, the record is caused by standing there and letting yourself get hit by a thrown object," Weitzel said. "I take pride in it because a lot of guys jump out of the way of the ball.
"I take pride in getting hit and sprinting down to first base."
The 5-foot-6, 160-pound Weitzel, the son of Florida assistant baseball coach Brad Weitzel, was plunked three times in 2007 while at Winter Haven All Saint's Academy. In 2008 at Oak Hall, he was hit nine times, 25 times the following year and six times in 2010. On Tuesday night, Weitzel, who does not wear additional protection at the plate, was hit in the arm the first time and struck in the back the second time.
Weitzel said that when he was younger and first started facing live pitching, his father taught him to turn his back if a pitch was going to hit him. Weitzel is also quick to admit that he'll take getting hit as long as the pitch is not going toward his head. Weitzel, who usually hits in one of the top two slots in the Eagles' batting order, is batting .305 with 32 runs scored and 19 RBIs this season.
After Weitzel was hit 25 times as a freshman, his father started doing some research, thinking his son might be close to a record at some point. The single-season mark for getting hit by a pitch, according to the NFHS record book, is 29, set in 1965 by Kenny Redding of Choctaw, Okla. Heitmeier is second on that list, having been plunked 25 times in 2007, which Weitzel matched two years later.
"My swing is short and I have trouble with the outer-half pitches, so I get closer to the plate than normal," Weitzel said. "Me not moving and my plate coverage has contributed to it (the record).
"The record is very special," Weitzel said, "and I am going to keep trying to get more to add to my total."
Oak Hall coach Todd Gray said Weitzel is the hardest working high school baseball player he has coached.
"Lucas plays the game kind of old school. He is a hard-nosed ballplayer and gives 110 percent all of the time," Gray said. "When he is at bat, he is not going to back down, he is going to crowd the plate and he's not going to be intimidated by anybody.
"It boosts his on-base percentage, it gives us a greater chance to score runs and win ballgames," said Gray, who describes what Weitzel does as a lost art in the game. "It is an awesome thing, anytime you are involved in any record-breaking event."