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An appreciation for Tony Batista and one of the strangest batting stances in baseball history

DIGITAL IMAGE----Toronto Blue Jay Tony Batista has an unusual stance at the plate, Jays lost to the Boston Red Sox 8-0 , Wednesday, July 28, 1999. (Photo by Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images) (Steve Russell *p66 x/Getty Images)

It's been nearly 10 years since Tony Batista put on a big league uniform. Ten years and, inexplicably, zero retrospective essays on his wonderfully weird batting stance. No documentaries. Not even a tell-all spoken word album narrated by Tony himself.
Well, today, on his 43rd birthday, it's time. It's time to admire the man who had one of strangest batting stances in baseball history.

Just look at him. This guy isn't ready to hit a baseball -- he's stretching. He forgot something in the dugout and needs to run back and get it: 

But you see, Tony was ready to hit. He hit 221 homers over an 11-year career -- including seasons in which he clubbed 31, 41, 31 and 32. He made the All-Star team twice. He replaced Cal Ripken, Jr. in Baltimore and hit a grand slam off Roger Clemens in his first game doing so. He once beat out an infield single for the Blue Jays and reportedly continued running until he reached the outfield wall. He did things like this while playing in Japan.
Sure, he struck out a lot, but that comes with a player with such dinger-mashing abilities and a stance where he's barely standing in the batter's box.
According to the book "Life Lessons From Baseball," Batista happened upon the extremely open-faced stance while playing in the Venezuelan Winter League in 1998:
"I tried to do something diffferent," he says of the new stance. "And right away I got a hit with that kind of stance. It's been working for me since that day."
Simple enough. Now, let's watch Batista nearly get hit by a pitch and then crush a dinger on the very next offering juuust out of Rusty Greer's reach. He'd want you to. It's his birthday. 

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