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Charley Lau

Born: April 12, 1933(1933-04-12)
Romulus, Michigan
Died: March 18, 1984 (aged 50)
Key Biscayne, Florida
Batted: Left Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 12, 1956 for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1967 for the Atlanta Braves
Career statistics
Batting average     .255
Home runs     16
RBI     140

As player

As coach

Charles Richard Lau (April 12, 1933, in Romulus, Michigan – March 18, 1984) was an American catcher and hitting coach in Major League Baseball.

He was signed by the Detroit Tigers as an amateur free agent. After spending three season with the organization (1956, 1958-1959) he was traded (with Don Lee) to the Milwaukee Braves for Casey Wise, Don Kaiser, and Mike Roarke. After the Baltimore Orioles purchased him from the Braves in 1962, he adopted a contact hitter's batting stance (feet wide apart, bat held almost parallel to the ground). That season he had a .294 batting average with six home runs and thirty-seven runs batted in.

After hitting .194 in 23 games, he was sold by the Orioles to the Kansas City Athletics on July 1, 1963, hitting .294 in Kansas City and having a batting average of .272 in 92 games. On June 15, 1964, he was traded back to the Orioles for Wes Stock. On May 31, 1967, he was purchased by the Braves, now located in Atlanta, and on November 27, 1967, he was released by the Braves.

Lau attributed the end of his career as a catcher in the majors to steroid injections he received to treat an injury to his throwing arm. These injections relieved the pain from the injury and he was counselled to return to the field before his injury fully healed. The permanent damage that resulted impaired his ability to throw out baserunners.

Lau as a hitting coach

After his playing career ended, Lau taught his hitting technique to the Orioles, Oakland Athletics, Kansas City Royals, New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox as a hitting instructor. He wrote the book How to Hit .300, which supplanted Ted Williams's The Science of Hitting as the "Bible of Batting." Lau emphasized releasing the top hand after making contact with the pitch and following through with only the lower hand on the bat. This allows maximum extension of the arms and lets the bat maintain a flatter plane through the hitting zone. Lau served as batting coach for the Royals from 1971 to 1978 (with the exception of the early part of the 1975 season when he was the team's minor league hitting coach after his temporary ouster from the Royals' staff by then-skipper Jack McKeon) and taught his spray-hitting style to Hal McRae, Amos Otis, Willie Wilson and George Brett. Other hitters to use Lau's method include Carlton Fisk, Frank Thomas and Mark McGwire.

While serving as the White Sox hitting coach, he died in Key Biscayne, Florida at the age of 50 after a long bout with cancer. Since his death, no White Sox player or coach has worn his number 6 jersey,[1] although it has not been officially retired.[2] The baseball field at Romulus Senior High School in his hometown is named the Charley Lau Baseball Field.

Off the field

Lau also made an appearance in the film Max Dugan Returns in which he plays himself. His character is given money by the title character (played by Jason Robards, Jr.) to teach Matthew Broderick's character The Philosophy of Hitting.

External links

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