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This was in Peter Gammons' blog.
Ted Williams used to play pepper almost every day, for what he said was the feel of manipulating the bat and getting the daily feel of exacting the barrel of the bat to the ball. Yet, for a number of reasons like complaints by ground crews that players dug up the grass with their games, pepper has virtually disappeared in the baseball culture; in fact, Walt Weiss says “most kids today wouldn’t know what we’re talking about when we mention it.”
I loved pepper. When I was travelling with the Red Sox for the Boston Globe in the seventies and eighties and would work out when the Sox took early hitting, Johnny Pesky would warm me up with 15-20 minutes of pepper.
Boston had two of the best fielding pitchers in the game, Tom Burgmeier and Bill Campbell, and they played what they called “Killer Pepper,” to improve fielding and practice getting into a fielding position after releasing their throws. My shins will hurt.
Somewhere over the years, grounds crew and ballpark administrators outlawed pepper games.
But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has brought it back. For the last three weeks, he and his staff have taken Joc Pederson out at 2:45 every afternoon to play pepper, in Roberts words ‘to help Pederson regain the feel of manipulating the bathead.’ Pederson hit two home runs Tuesday night, but Roberts feels that more importantly for a young player who hit .178 in the second half last season, he has begun to use the whole field and develop as a pure hitter. His on base is up to .368. “He has shown the ability to manipulate the bat and take balls to all fields,” says Dodger Pres. Andrew Friedman, a devotee of pepper when he was playing at Tulane.
Roberts and Weiss remember what pepper games meant when they were in high school and college. Weiss instituted pepper games in this year’s spring training, and yesterday said he may encourage players to do it in the regular season. And have pitchers have their own pepper games. “It’s good for lot of things,” says Weiss, “including team-building.”