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Monday, April 19, 2021

Charley Lau Jr. followed his father into coaching hitters, became 'hitting guru' in own right

Charley Lau Jr.'s dad influenced Hall of Famers as a hitting coach as Charley Lau Sr. promoted theories of hitting that included shifting weight during the swing, The Tampa Bay Times wrote.

The son talked to The Times of his father's influence in August 1987, influence both on him, and others.

"When I was younger I really didn't follow it that much," the younger Lau told The Times. "Then when I was 15 or 16, I could see how it made sense. I began to read his books, I watched his instructional film. I tried to adapt what he was saying."

Lau Jr. spoke then as a player on the independent Miami Marlins of the Florida State League. His playing career proved brief, just 12 games, but he went on to a career as a hitting instructor in his own right, including a stint in 1990 as a hitting coach for short-season Utica.

Lau Jr.'s playing career began and ended in 1987, signed by Miami, but his connection to baseball began much earlier through his father. He was also credited as Charles Lau and as Charlie Lau.

The elder Lau played 11 seasons in the majors, his last in 1967 with the Orioles and the Braves. He hit .255 over his career. He then became a coach, imparting his approach to hitting for eight seasons with the Royals, three with the Yankees and two with the White Sox before his passing in 1984.

The younger Lau even served as a batboy for the Royals in 1973 at the age of 8, as his dad served as first base coach.

On the field, Lau later helped his Coral Gables High School team to a district semifinal win in 1983 with an RBI single.

Then, in April 1987, he tried out for the independent Marlins. He eventually signed and saw 12 games. He went 4 for 32, marking the extent of his professional career.

By 1990, Lau had turned coach himself, with the last organization his father worked for, the White Sox, at Utica. He also worked to implement the Walt Hriniak hitting style, the philosophy shared by the elder Lau, The Chicago Tribune wrote

"I have a lot of knowledge," Lau Jr. told The Tribune that March. "I feel like I know the system as well as anybody."

That season appears to have been Lau's only season as a minor league coach. Lau, however, has gone on to a long career as an instructor. 

He ran a baseball clinic in Miami in December 1992. He also worked with a young Alex Rodriguez.

By 2001, he had earned the title "Miami-based hitting guru" as he worked with Homer Bush. Then, in 2006, he'd earned the title "one of the most respected hitting coaches in the country."

Lau continues as an instructor in 2021, with Charley Lau's Hitting School of Kansas City.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,628
Made the Majors:1,248-34.4%
Never Made Majors:2,380-65.6%-X
5+ Seasons in the Majors:520
10+ Seasons in the Minors:307

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