Elliott: Throwing Doctor Tom House was in the house at Langley

By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network

LANGLEY, BC _ Tom House has been to a clinic or two.

Let’s see the renowned pitching guru usually goes to Texas and California high school coaches convention, the annual American Baseball Coaches Association, a stop or two in Canada and some others adding up to about eight a year.

How do they differ?

“Well, take a look,” said House, the best-selling author, Nolan Ryan’s pitching coach and throwing consultant to 28 of 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

From the side of the gym at the Langley Events Centre, House nodded toward Donald Hooton, Jr. lecturing to the 40-odd high schoolers on dietary supplements at the annual BC Baseball Coaching Conference, the longest running and largesst convention in Western Canada.  

“I don’t want to say that this is the land that time forgot ... but it reminds me of the US more than 15 years ago,” House said. “Look at them. They are so receptive and so attentive. If this was south of the border half of them would be on their cell phones texting after 20 minutes.

“Every time I come to Vancouver whether it is the players, coaches or parents everyone is so attentive and respectful. Baseball’s No. 1 enemies are the cell phone and the tablet.”

House has walked with the immortals ...

From standing in the Atlanta Braves bullpen and catching Hall of Famer Hank Aaron’s record-breaking career 715th homer at Fulton-County Stadium in the fourth inning at 9:10 pm on Monday April 8, 1974. House caught the two-run homer off Dodgers lefty Al Downing and later gave it to Aaron. ... 

To walking through the bullpen door at County Stadium about 20 feet in right field with Nolan Ryan about to made his second try for his 300th win a few minutes after 7 pm on a Tuesday. When Brewers fans began to cheer Ryan, House stopped. He asked Ryan to wait and signalled for Reese Ryan to join his father. There we watched the most amazing father and son walk we’ve ever seen as the two headed toward the third base dugout receiving a standing ovation from Milwaukee fans upon reaching the infield. One sentimental sap who had watched it all from the football press box in right field wiped a tear away. Ryan got the win pitching 7 2/3 innings, leaving with a 5-3 lead after 146 pitches. The Rangers scored six in the top of the ninth and Ryan had No. 300 ...

To a Sunday night last month when two of his pupils -- New England Patriots Tom Brady and Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan -- squared off in the most memorable Super Bowl ever. Which student did the teacher root for? “I declined both of their offers for tickets, wished them both ‘have a good, healthy game’ and I told them that I hoped that they each scored a lot of points.” That’s the way it unfolded on into overtime for the first time ever. 

And on a Friday night at the Walnut Grove Community Centre the likes of Braedy Euerby of the Delta Tigers and Ty McInnes of the Cloverdale Spurs did the same drills House taught Orel Hershiser and other major leaguers. 

House pitched in the majors for eight seasons (1971-78) and then began instructing. He was working for the San Diego Padres as a minor league instructor in 1979 when he noticed triple-A Las Vegas trainer Dick Dent allowing his players to use football in pre-game workouts.

House noticed that the mechanics of a pitcher and a quarterback are exactly the same. The next season his pitchers began throwing footballs. And it was a success -- once the ground rules were established: no punting and no one trying to throw the ball 60 yards. The Throwing Doctor’s rationale was that you can’t throw a football wrong mechanically and throw a spiral.   

“The movements are virtually identical except timing, a quarterback doesn’t have the time a pitcher does standing on the mound, “ House said. “They both have to put the ball in the right place.”

As Brady completed 43 passes for 466 yards and two touchdowns to overcome a 28-3 deficit and a win in overtime. In doing so, he set three Super Bowl records in completions, attempts (62) and yards; plus four career Super Bowl marks in attempts (309), completions (207), yards (2,071) and touchdowns (15). 

“Drew Brees would be like Greg Maddux, Brett Farve would compare to Kevin Brown,” said House. “Brees is a special guy who shares.”

And Brady? 

“He’d be a right-handed Hall of Famer,” said House, who didn’t have a baseball comparison. “Brady is the total package. Maybe there are three or four guys nowadays who throw better, but up here ...” pointing to the brain, he adds “Brady is the best. He is so confident when he is in the hunt.” 

Long before he knew what he was doing on the science of throwing he filmed and took measurements of Dan Marino, Joe Montana, Steve Beuerlein and Todd Marinovich.

Drew Brees was the first signal caller to travel to USC to work with House inside the Rod Dedeaux Research and Baseball Institute, a state-of-the-art facility (eight cameras rolling at 1,000 frames-per-second, three-dimensional analysis). After being injured with the San Diego Chargers in 2005 and told by doctors he might never play again, Brees went to House. Seven months later, he signed with the New Orleans Saints.

“And the rest is history,” House said. Word of mouth spread from one QB to another on how House’s pointers were helpful taking it to the house. 

House’s 10-year lease at USC expired last year, so now he spends time between the National Pitching Association near Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, Calif. and his 3DQB which he operates with Adam Dedeaux, grandson of the Hall of Fame USC coach, is at Golden West College in Huntington Beach. House makes the commute from Del Mar, where the surf meets the turf.   

Besides Brady and Brees, House worked with the likes of Alex Smith, Carson Palmer, Terrell Pryor, Matt Cassel, Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles and Tim Tebow to name a few. 

He has written 22 books including the No. 1 best seller on pitching: Nolan Ryan’s Pitcher’s Bible: The Ultimate Guide to Power, Precision and Long-Term Performance, which was released in 1991.

After being a pitching coach with the Houston Astros, Padres and Rangers, he worked in Japan with the Chunichi Dragons, and Chiba Lotte Marines. He served as pitching coach for the USC Trojans from 2008-2011,

He also helped Hall of Famer Randy Johnson -- when House worked for the Rangers and Johnson pitched for the Mariners -- and Los Angeles Dodgers great Orel Hershiser. 

“I retired from coaching affiliated ball in 1995, there are a lot of big egos in baseball,” House said. 

House admits that he is an outlier in a traditional-based world.

He is reminded of that night so many years ago in Milwaukee when he stepped out of the picture and set up the father and son walk for Nolan and Reese Ryan.

“Ah, it wasn’t about me,” House said.

Yet, at the annual BC Baseball Coaching Conference it was all about House.