Feb 16, 2011

Italian / American Inventor of the Pitching Machine: Lorenzo Ponza:

Lorenzo Ponza was born on February 15, 1918 the son of Italian immigrants Lorenzo and Mary Ponza, in Glenwood California. He grew up on his parents Saw Mill & worked in the engineering field after high school. He moved to Pearl Harbor in 1941 working for the Navy & was there during the 1941 Japanese bombing attacks. He remained in Hawaii becoming a civil supervisor helping build up the US Pacific Fleet.

He came back to Santa Cruz in 1950 & opened up a small machine shop working as an inventor. By 1952 he gets credit with inventing the modern day baseball pitching machine. He fine tuned some of the older original models that never quite resembled real life pitching.(Another Italian inventor Paul Giovagnoli also developed a similar machine that year & his company claims they invented the first.)

But the Ponza machines, known as “ponzas’ among the base ball players were the most widely used & most authentic. Through the years Lorenzo followed up with many improvements to his pitching machines & owns seven different baseball product patents.

There was the 1974 Hummer, which could simulate fastballs, pop-ups and grounders, the 1983 Casey, the 1987 Ponza Swing King and the 1988 Rookie. He eventually sold his company to the Athletic Training Equipment Company in the early 1990s.

Mr. Ponza was a big San Francisco Giants fan, & had a room dedicated to mementos & letters from various baseball players. Being such a bust worker, he attended few games because he didn’t have the time.Lorenzo Ponza passed away from cancer in in 2004 at age 86 in California.

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