Standing in front of a chalkboard covered with equations, Yale physics professor Robert Adair declares that hitting a baseball is "at the edge of human facility." That's arguable, as two new $19.95 DVDs from Major League Baseball Productions illustrate. Hitters on Hitting: Finding the Sweet Spot (which includes the scene with Adair) focuses on batters who made their art look almost easy. Unhittable: No Hitters, Perfect Games, and Near Misses features pitchers who made hitting well-nigh impossible.
Unhittable touches on 63 of the 212 hitless games and all 14 perfect games in major league history. The disc shows the last three outs of six no-hitters and includes sections on the remarkable runs of Sandy Koufax (right, three no-hitters and a perfect game from 1962 to '65) and Nolan Ryan (a major league record seven no-nos).
Where have you gone, Sandy and Nolan? In Hitters on Hitting, Tony Gwynn, a .338 lifetime batter, theorizes that there aren't as many dominant pitchers today because hitters are more prepared than ever. The DVD takes a close look at the approaches of such cerebral batters as Gwynn, Ted Williams and Wade Boggs, who talks about knowing the strike zone so well that he sometimes felt he could serve balls to specific spots on the field in the manner of a tennis player. Most illuminating is the chapter on hitting philosophies, which provides tips aplenty. George Brett says that the secret of his success was the weight transfer from one leg to the other, while Edgar Martinez credits his .319 career average to his batting eye, which he keeps sharp with a drill that entails reading the numbers on tennis balls shot out of a pitching machine.