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Charley Lau

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Charles Richard Lau

  • Bats Left, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 190 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

"There are two theories on hitting the knuckleball. Unfortunately, neither of them work." - Charley Lau
"What did the Lau System mean to me? . . . little did I realize at the time what it was going to do and how it was going to change my life. . ." - George Brett

Charley Lau was a catcher who shuttled between AAA and the Majors for most of his 11 year career. Afterwards, he became much more famous as a thoughtful hitting coach. While in the minors, Lau missed the 1953-1954 seasons due to military service.

In 11 years in the majors, Lau played in 527 games. He hit .255 with 16 home runs. He was doomed to be remembered by few, then he became a coach.

On July 13, 1962 Lau hit 4 doubles in a nine inning game against the Cleveland Indians. This ties the all time major league record for the most doubles in a game.

In 1968, Lau managed Shreveport in the Texas League. The following season he became a major league hitting instructor. He was employed by Baltimore in 1969 and Oakland in 1970.

His greatest work came with the Kansas City Royals, beginning in 1971. In Kansas City, he took a crop of young players and made them outstanding hitters. Under his tutelage, George Brett and Hal McRae battled for the 1976 batting title. In seven seasons, ten of Lau's hitters had .300 batting averages.

Charley Lau moved to the New York Yankees in 1979 and 1980 then on to the Chicago White Sox, officially, for 1981 and 1982. He was also on their staff for 1983, but he gave up his official position so Loren Babe could qualify for his league pension. He is credited with the development of Harold Baines while with the White Sox.

Lau died in March 1984 of colon cancer at age 50.

He is the author of the book The Art of Hitting .300.

His son, Charley Lau, Jr., also served as a minor league hitting instructor. He had another son named David Lau who played professionally.

[edit] Further Reading

  • Thomas Boswell: "Georgie Ballgame", in How Life Imitates the World Series, Penguin Books, New York, 1982, pp. 178-183.
  • Charley Lau with Alfred Grossbrenner: The Art of Hitting .300, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1992 (originally published in 1980)

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