Freddy Corral constantly made his coach nervous with his extremely fast, fast ball fearing he was going to throw his arm out of the socket when he pitched for the Tradeway Chevrolet team in the Ripon Recreation Baseball Program in the 1970s.
Rarely could anyone hit off the 10-year-old Corral and his arm didn’t seem to suffer for the worse.
Corral was also a standout in baseball for the Ripon High School Indians. Always in the stands cheering him on was his younger sister Monica sitting with their mother Alice and younger brother Daniel.
Now in his early-50s, Corral is in his second season as the pitching coach for the University of Missouri Tigers.
In his elementary school days Corral tagged along with his mom at the Bethany Home convalescent home where she worked as an aide. He always treasured his visits with older folks he called his “adopted grandparents,” listening carefully to their stories about baseball, the Los Angeles Dodgers and their certain left-handed pitcher Sandy Koufax whose legends captivated Fred.
“I grew up locked and loaded on Sandy Koufax stories. They’d tell you stories about Koufax that would make you think he was 20- feet-tall and able to throw the ball faster than anyone ever could,” said Corral who is also a lefty.
Following on the heels of his own college pitching career and becoming an All-Pac-10 lefthanded reliever at Cal-Berkeley in 1987, Corral finally crossed paths with Koufax. It was when Corral was a pitching instructor with the L.A. Dodgers and in spring training before the start of the 2000 season. He was busy watching a lefty throw at Vero Beach, Florida.
“I get a tap on my shoulder,” Corral said, “and heard someone say, ‘Do you mind if I work on this guy’s breaking ball’?’”
To his astonishment, it was Sandy Koufax. Enough to say he was speechless.
Shocked by his reaction, he wasn’t sure what “mush” had come out of his mouth in response to Koufax, as he handed him the ball.
Corral has coached more than 80 players who have signed professional baseball contracts, including former Tennessee volunteer Luke Hochevar, the No. 1 overall Major League Baseball pick in 2006.
Lefthander Tyler LaPlante noted of Corral, “I don’t think I’ve ever met a coach who’s more passionate about pitching. The guy knows more about pitching than I know about most of life.”
The Tigers have untapped their talents in different ways under Corral’s leadership, utilizing his thirst for the latest technology to absorbing old fashioned tough love. Any pitcher who has been part of his team understands why he refers to his pitchers as a brotherhood, not a staff.
He uses a seven-step plan as a blue print, a mental cap to guide his pitchers through every scenario that they will face on the mound through throwing strikes and searching out paths to the most optimal pitch counts.
Hochevar was a student of Corral’s seven step plan and a key player for the Kansas City Royals bullpen in the 2015 World Series championship season, He credited Corral as being the best pitching coach he had ever worked with.
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