Photo Gallery: A1 Pitching Academy
ADAMS -- Jonah Bayliss struck out Alex Rodriguez. He's gotten out Derek Jeter. Robinson Cano and Hideki Matsui were hitless against him.
The 33-year-old Williamstown native and Mount Greylock High School graduate was merciless against the Yankees.
Now the former Major League Baseball reliever is looking to teach local young baseball players how they can do it themselves.
Bayliss just opened the A1 Pitching Academy in Adams, where he will teach his greatest skill -- pitching, but also hitting and some fielding techniques.
The academy is located at 5 Hoosac St., in the old brick Waverly building, a former fabrics store and warehouse. The building is owned by Connors Brothers, a moving company operated by his older brother, Jarret.
Situated on the second floor of the building, tarp separates the baseball facility from the storage section.
There is a small turf field with enough room to concentrate on showing pitchers how to throw over a plate into a net. There also is room for hitters to stand in the cage and swing. Bayliss is keeping open the possibility of expanding the academy.
A 60-inch television hangs on the wall for Bayliss to go over the movements of pitchers on a 10-second delay after he records them, using slow-motion and freeze-frame replays.
That type of instant feedback is "vital in today's sports arena," Bayliss said.
"Things are getting so competitive," he added. "Players are looking for every advantage."
He recalls being shown videotape of his release point being lower than he thought it was, by a minor league instructor.
"It's like how you view your own voice," he said. "How you think you throw your own ball isn't how you throw your own ball."
Bayliss will be giving pointers and teaching exercise skills that will depend on the player.
Every pitcher throws differently. "Pitching mechanics are just like fingerprints," he said.
He calls himself a "late bloomer."
As a boy, Bayliss looked up to flamethrower and strikeout record-holder Nolan Ryan.
In his junior year of high school, he was the fourth pitcher on a team that went to the state semifinals.
He credits a workout regimen that he picked up with brother Jarrett when the two were at Trinity College, with boosting the velocity of his fastball from a high of 90 mph to 94 mph.
Jarrett established numerous pitching records at the school, Jonah said. But his velocity never hit the 90s.
When Jonah boosted his own velocity, he had a stellar junior season. He ended up getting taken in the 2002 amateur draft by the Kansas City Royals.
In 2005, he threw to a 2.84 ERA at the AA level, earning a call-up to the majors with the Royals. There, he joined a young group of pitchers which included Zack Greinke and J.P. Howell.
"The first time it happens, it's not really like anything else," Bayliss said. "It's surreal."
Frank Thomas, a Hall of Fame candidate, was his first strikeout victim. He did it on an inside slider despite never having thrown the pitch inside. "You go into survival mode. You don't even think twice about what the catcher is putting down."
Bayliss said his changeup was what got him to the majors. He also relied on a four-seam fastball and slider.
"I was a right-handed pitcher who threw 92, 94 miles per hour," he said. "You can find 2,000 of them. Right-handed relievers are a dime a dozen."
"The higher level you play, the talent catches up to you. What will separate you becomes your brain," Bayliss said.
"Those mental aspects of the game [are] what I want to relay to the younger generation."
By mental, he means understanding situations and having confidence.
"Confidence is going to lead to composure," he said. "If you're intelligent and confident, you won't freak out... bases loaded, nobody out, no problem. I need to get a groundout."
One of his greatest and most awkward moments was retiring six Red Sox batters in a row in his first time facing the team he grew up admiring. That was in 2005, the year after Boston captured their first World Series title in 86 years.
The first batter he faced was Jason Varitek. "My first reaction was ‘ya man!,' " but then he settled down. "He's trying to smash the ball down my throat," he said.
The memory of a home run he gave up to slugger Ken Griffey Jr. still stings. "His swing is so great, so natural. He looks so relaxed. You go ‘man, he didn't even swing that hard.' "
Striking out A-Rod? "I hold on to that one," Bayliss said.
After a disappointing season in 2007, Bayliss would spend the next few years in the minors, and one year playing in Japan.
One of his proudest moments was playing for Team USA in 2005 as part of the pre-qualifying competition.
Among his more memorable encounters was getting to meet Royals Hall of Famer George Brett at spring training.
"He showed you a really great example of how to show up and play every day, give 110 percent and not take anything for granted," Bayliss said.
Get lessons ...
Anyone interested in taking baseball lessons at the academy can contact Jonah at (615) 925-9577.