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Posted on Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 5:57 a.m.

Ann Arbor man shows off precision baseball hitting at Burns Park

By Pete Cunningham

Major League Baseball hitters are normally classified into one of two categories. A power-hitter is known for home run prowess, like Jose Bautista. A player who hits for average, like Joe Mauer, is more concerned about reaching base safely.

A few, like Miguel Cabrera, fall into both categories.

A “precision hitter” -- that is, a hitter who can hit a ball at a random target from various distances -- isn’t a label that many seek.

But that’s exactly what Ann Arbor’s Ron Reed calls himself. Reed, armed with his 33-inch white ash Louisville Slugger, can consistently hit a baseball wherever he wants to.

The 63-year-old Reed is no Major Leaguer, but a precision hitter he certainly is.


Ann Arbor's Ron Reed, 63, is a self-proclaimed "precision hitter."

Pete Cunningham |

With a satchel full of baseballs strapped around his waist, Reed frequents parks around Ann Arbor where he, for his own amusement, hones the skill of being able to hit a baseball wherever he wants.

“I’m a precision hitter,” Reed says at Burns Park in Ann Arbor on a hot afternoon.

“I can hit for power, or a line drive, and hit it right where I’m aiming,” says the white-haired Reed, fast in his speech, pointing at trees in the park, benches and baseball backstops, quite proud of his ability to pick them off with consistency.

Reed tosses a ball in the air and hits it into a tree about 80 yards from where he stands. A few don’t go as high as he’d like, but his line is rarely off. After Reed does a few hits, some tougher shots are in order.

I stand on a park bench more than 100 yards away, and he’s able to scatter the balls around me. Reed’s bat is worn, cracking at the barrel, and the balls he’s using are worn, too -- causing a little more variation in flight than he says he’s accustomed to.

“The density’s out of the baseball,” Reed says, presenting a ball that looks as though it’s been used in about 100 sandlot games. “It’s been hit too many times. It’s like a marshmallow, so it starts to curve.”

Reed says he hits 300 to 400 balls a week, and his callused hands, bag full of broken bats and sun-weathered face serve as proof. Before using any ball, Reed writes “J.F.J.” just under the trademark in marker, which stands for “Just for Jesus.”

“He’s the one giving me the talent so I put his name, his initials, on every ball, in honor of him,” Reed says. J.F.J is also stitched on his satchel.


Ron Reed customizes his bats by having his his favorite Bible verses emblazoned on the barrel.

Pete Cunningham |

Reed also laser burns J.F.J. on his bats, along with two crossed baseball bats with a tennis net stretched between them and the name “Glenn” above. And he adds his favorite Bible verses, Phillipians 4:13, and Psalms 20:4.

Reed says thinking of his son Glenn -- who he says is now in a mental hospital, and loves tennis and baseball -- and the Bible verses adds to the joy he feels when he's at the park.

When Reed hits the ball just right, he knows it. The sound is softer than the shots that spray, and he turns his head with a proud smile.


Ron Reed's customizes his bats with an emblem in honor of his son Glenn as well.

Pete Cunningham |

“That’s some precision hitting right there,” Reed says. As the ball soars exactly where Reed says it will, his sunburned cheeks scrunch up with a proud smile.

Not everyone is happy with Reed. After he hits a ball toward the fence of a tennis court from more than 100 yards away at Burns Park -- just as he said he would -- Reed is accosted by a married couple playing tennis.

The tennis players accuse Reed of hitting the baseballs at them. They loudly swear and scream obscenities across the park and call him names that should not be repeated.

The police are called, and officers come out to Burns Park to tell Reed not to hit in the direction of the tennis courts.

After the altercation, Reed hits balls with his back to the fence, but away from the court. As the couple hits tennis balls into the fence behind him, Ron never accuses them of hitting balls at him.

The tennis-playing couple declined to be interviewed for this story.

The incident upsets Reed to tears and he says he might stop going to Burns Park because of it. He says at Elbel Field on the University of Michigan campus, where he normally goes, he’s never bothered. But the layout of Burns Park is ideal for his precision hitting, he says.

“I’m not trying to hit their tennis court. Let them have their game, I’m a gentleman, I’m respectful to everyone over here,” Reed says. “I don’t know why the guy started running his mouth and being rude.”

Once Reed calms down from the incident, he has one last trick to show. He lines up his bag and crosses two bats above it.

“I’m going to put (the ball) right up between there and sometimes the good Lord even puts it right up on top of the bag … isn’t that sweet?” Reed says.

From roughly 60 yards away, Reed knocks over the bats on his second try, and his smile returns.

Precision hitting.

Contact Pete Cunningham at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.



Fri, Aug 9, 2013 : 9:02 p.m.

I just left Frog Island park where I met Ron for the first time. A friend and I watched him hitting the ball for about an hour and I have to admit I was impressed. I called out to him and we talked for a bit, he hit the ball where I asked and rarely missed his mark. For a real challenge I asked him to hit a ball into a nearby trash can that he promptly turned on its side and took aim at. From a rough distance of 100 yds every ball he hit landed very close and after a few tries; sure enough the ball went rolling into the can! I played baseball in college and understand a little about the strength and precision needed to accomplish such a feet so needless to say it was amazing. Keep it up Ron!


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 12:17 p.m.

Forget high school sports coverage and All-county team listings - this is the kind of thing that brings a community together! Great work.

Alan Goldsmith

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 11:02 a.m.

"The tennis players accuse Reed of hitting the baseballs at them. They loudly swear and scream obscenities across the park and call him names that should not be repeated." Welcome to Burns Park. Lol.


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 3:19 a.m.

Ronnie is a Legend in his Own Mind! He does not comprehend that batted balls can Hurt people! Where is the safety boundary in Ann Arbor Parks? Until Ronnie arrived on the scene, the geese in Gallup Park provided the most danger. Well, at least Ronnie (unlike the Gallup Geese) does not poop on the sidewalk . . .

r treat

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

who did he hit? Im nearly hit everday walking on the sidewalk by your beloved peddle machines.

Jed I Knight

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 1:40 a.m.

Yawn. Who cares.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 10:18 p.m.

This man is a danger and a hazard. I went to the park to use the tennis backboard on my day off. I seldom get to play tennis and was looking forward to getting some hitting practice. All of the sudden I hear this cracking in the tree to the left... and then the same sound on the tree to my right..... and baseballs fall out of the tree not far from me. This man walks over... I cannot in all honesty call him a gentleman because he was sooooo impressed with his own strength that he praised himself several times. I not believing that anyone would do that on purpose... put another life in danger.... simply listened and went back to hitting. Once again balls coming from behind me... hit the trees on either the left or right of me..... the park was absolutely empty except for me. He could have hit any any other direction and not endangered me. When I turned around and asked him politely to please hit someplace else... his super ego was apparent... he bragged about his fantastic skill... not at all concerned with my ability to use the park and be comfortable and safe in it. It will be a blessing for any other human beings using the park if this man goes and practices where there are no people to possibly endanger. I have never met any one in Burns park who was so uncaring and careless and ego driven. I suppose God is going to pay our medical bills if he has a heart attack or simply miss hits and hits someone in the back of the head. What happened to compassion, consideration of others and humility in this man?


Fri, Jul 27, 2012 : 2:44 a.m.

It seems that he might need some kind but firm re-direction. He probably can't read social cues and so must be told point blank.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 10:02 p.m.

The hateful comments don't surprise me considering this is Ann Arbor. If he would have said he was an atheist, everything would be OK. Who cares whether the balls are being pitched, it is still a neat skill. We get excited about jugglers and people who dunk basketballs using a trampoline, what good are they. The fact that he is not ashamed of his beliefs makes him a target for every God hating liberal in AA.


Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 5:12 p.m.

No, if he'd said he was an atheist I would have told him to stop giving us a bad name by threatening people in a public place. I mean yes, the fact that he's Hitting Balls for Jesus is perhaps a bit out there (Jesus is my Umpire? My Catcher?) but the real issue is his dangerous and antisocial behavior that wants to glorify.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 11:26 p.m.

I had no idea what religion this man believed in when I encountered him. Even asking him politely to hit in another direction.. he persisted in hitting right to the right and left of me. I can't risk losing time off work because of being injured by a man who is so confident that he believes himself incapable of error. There are so many God loving people who live around Burns park... it is unfortunate that you are so quick to judge others because of their address.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

I'm not a God Hating Liberal, and I think the guy needs to be dealt with. This has NOTHING to do with "God" and everything to do with his selfish behaviour towards others and endangering people. Sorry to burst your bubble.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 9:57 p.m.

Well, now that it's been publicized that theres a 63yr old slightly off kilter man knowingly targeting people with hardballs, it's only a matter of time until there's an assault charge against him. Baseballs to the head at best cause concussions. A baseball to the chest can cause cardiac arrest. Let this continue, and don't be surprised to see airsoft & paintball guns next. After all, is there really *any* difference? Whatcha got here is a guy that's tumbled out of the Planter's Can of Mixed Nuts.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 7:39 p.m.

This man approached my kids and me while we were playing tennis at the courts at Burns Park. He was hitting the balls too close to us and did not care at all that the balls were falling all around us on the tennis courts. He was not hitting the baseballs in the baseball field but seemed to be aiming wherever he wanted. I was worried he was going to hit a child (the park is very busy with many different age groups), so I asked him to please move away from the tennis courts and the group of children who were playing on the nearby play structure. He did not. So, my kids and I left. We got a bad feeling from him and I wondered if we were the only ones who this had happened to. We do not live near the park, but it's a nice park with a lot for kids to do and newer tennis courts. Regardless of where it's located, no one should be allowed to hit baseballs randomly in public parks. This man seems to not care at all where he hits the balls and doesn't care if he possibly harms anyone.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 7:28 p.m.

Honestly, the bigger annoyance at Burns Park are the families with dogs that show up every morning before school. I met him when he had a basket that would light up over at michigan softball fields. Nice guy with positive intentions, just needs some friendly direction. Tolerance and understanding is not something Burns Parkers are good at, so perhaps not the best park to try and take over.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

I've read some weird articles (especially on, but all I can say now is that article was 5 minutes of my life I'll never get back.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 7:18 p.m.

I am surprised at the negative responses to this piece on a quirky and interesting man. It may not be leading news! but perhaps it lies somewhere between human interest and 'baseball skills' interest. This does not appear to be the Ron Reed of pro baseball and basketball fame, judging by the pictures and by the claimed date of birth (I suppose I could be wrong in case this Ron Reed is fudging his date of birth somewhat) but nevertheless I found the piece uplifting. No pun intended. Here is another article on this man, in similar circumstances, posted in a blog a few years ago, followed by much more positive comments: (all right, in Elbel Pk there wasn't an occupied tennis court nearby, or moms pushing baby carriages through the park... he evidently does seek out empty parks when he can find them! but he needs a wide, flat park.) See this:

Honest Abe

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

Why the negative responses on a quirky and interesting man? Because he is quirky and NOT interesting.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

This is a nice feature story, but how is this news?

J. A. Pieper

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 1:32 a.m.

Because isn't really news, that left the community when the newspaper died.

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

A little touchy about dad and his unusual hobby, Pete?

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 4:08 p.m.

That's nice, but can he do this?

Honest Abe

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 4:06 p.m.

I just want to see him do some "precision hitting" off of an actual pitch! Not by tossing the ball in the air and taking a swing at it. This is why I said it is not proper instruction and he should stick to tee ball. I guarantee you that if he was tossed a decent pitch, he would strike out swinging.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

I fancy myself a precision lawn-darts thrower... don't worry, I'll only throw them NEAR you.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

luge and a2: both good and apt comments. The fact that they received 'thumbs down" is covered somewhat in a post of mine on an recent thread about a2's tolerance level of sometimes intolerable behaviors ...a praiseworthy concept except when carried to self defeating sort of "live an let live" levels , given the penchant of some locals for the malicious -to- irresponsible .


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 3:59 p.m.

Big deal. I'm training to be precision skeet shooter.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 2:35 p.m.

Great hitting Ron! Now to the meat....these jerks called the understaffed, overworked, stretched to the max Ann Arbor police over THIS!!!! Burns Park IS BASEBALL...HELLO!!! Two diamonds dominate the landscape, the elitist snobs in question are behind 12 foot high fencing! And as seen here, those are "screened" by 30 foot trees. Those rude offensive people should be fined for calling in a false situation...911 is not for childish, selfish "small stuff"..give me a break!!! Using 911 for non emergency reporting is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and $500 fine or both. If it's a false report, the violation is a 2 year felony with a $2,000 fine or both. The applicable statute is MCL 750.411a. I say charge em!!!!


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 11:34 p.m.

This man hit so close to me several times.... even though I was the only other person using the park... and he was hitting to my back.... this is not safe, considerate or shows any kind of common sense... he refused to stop hitting to the right and left of my back... so I simply had to walk away and go home after requesting that he stop to no avail. He is a danger to anyone who wants to use the park. The fields were wide open.... no one there..... why didn't he hit into them? Could it be an oversize ego? I was using the tennis backboard on the outside of the fence ... he had no right to do what he was doing in my direction... risking my skull... he didn't't softly hit those balls... he wacks them with all his might... right at my back....


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 2:53 p.m.

Burns Park is baseball ... on the baseball fields, which isn't where he was. The tennis courts are not in play on either of the fields. As far as the police, they assessed the situation when they arrived and decided intervention was in order which sort of shoots that "false report" stuff. And you'll notice which party the intervention was aimed at.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 2:20 p.m.

As a Burns Park resident, I don't mind that Reed is hitting baseballs--but if he is hitting them too close to people, it's understandable that they would be unnerved. Reed is quite a character but seems harmless, and I think everyone just needs to remember to be considerate of others who are using the park space. There's no reason for conflict or shouting matches!


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 11:36 p.m.

I am a Burns Park resident as well.... I only used polite language... but it was useless. I gave up playing on the backboard and went home.... the only other person in the park was Reed.... he could have hit in ANY other direction without possible harm to anyone or anything. I cannot afford to miss work do to an ego maniac hitting balls at my back.

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 2:07 p.m.

What's with these video features of people doing things that are illegal (Slauson dog park) or borderline illegal (the baseball hitting is nearly assault)?


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

This guy came up and gave a demonstration of his hitting to my kid's kindergarten soccer team -- without being asked. He seemed kind of out of it - not sure if he realized the kids were playing a different sport from him. Then one of his "demonstration shots," hit toward the boys, came way too close, way too fast. He's obviously somewhat impaired, and he's going to hurt someone seriously if he keeps on doing this in a relatively small and busy park.

simply amazed

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:44 p.m.

Can he do this if a ball is being pitched to him? Just curious.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

No. If he could do that he would be hitting at Comerica Park.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:41 p.m.

Someone would have a rude awakening if they intentionally hit a baseball within 10 feet of me. They would get a first class lesson in my precision throwing capabilities.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 9:43 p.m.

What would you do if someone was using you for target practice. Citizens arrest? Thanks for the advice Gomer Pile.

Honest Abe

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 4:07 p.m.

Dont' even try and talk tough buddy. You aren't hard.

Ghost of Tom Joad

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:39 p.m.

so let me get this straight. Somebody is at a park and hits baseballs at random people. The people ask him to stop, he refuses. This seems like a clear case of a guy who is acting like an entitled jerk. Why are we celebrating his actions by writing a feature story as if he's doing some sort of fantastic feat. He's bothering people trying to enjoy their public space.

Honest Abe

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

The first :03 seconds of the video are funny. That's rough! Did he need a chiropractor after that "unorthodox" swing??


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:37 p.m.

Is Ron Reed known as a "HIT MAN"?

Honest Abe

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

"Self-Proclaimed" is the correct description here. His stance is way off, even for a person tossing in the air and hitting their own balls. His hits would result in a double play or the batter would be thrown out before reaching 1st base. Not a single base hit was shown in this video. Yes, I know he is 63, but his instruction is not even close to being correct instruction. Stick to tee ball my friend.

Adam Dickson

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

I've seen this dude at Frisenger Park for years. I always called him "The Natural."


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

Writing a long, smug response to a human-interest piece and then disparaging the content provider with the hackneyed "slow news day" complaint is rather like ordering the elephant ears, cotton candy, and fried butter at the carnival and then standing on a box to warn passers-by that they serve junk food.

Unusual Suspect

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

I know, right? It's almost as bad as disparaging the commenters with hackneyed complaints about their comments to the article!


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

What is this - "simile day"? Posting a lot of comments that relate only to the other comments and have nothing at all to do with the article is like ...


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:53 p.m.

Mr. Cunningham, you may want to spend some time watching Ron Reed and his "precision" hitting when he does not know you are there. As a member of an outdoor conditioning group that uses the park every week, I have witnessed his strange behavior of using people for target practice. On one particular weekend, he kept hitting his balls about 10 feet from us. As you can imagine, having a baseball flying that close to you was extremely disconcerting. When we asked that he please hit his balls in a different direction, he told us not to worry because he was intending to hit them that close to us. After the 5th ball came within a few feet of one of our group members, we pleaded with him again to aim his shots further away from us...his next ball came within 10 feet of a family walking their child through the park. I don't think anyone is questioning whether or not he has precision, I think we are more concerned with the safety of park goers and Mr. Reed's intentions.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:11 p.m.

I would have to have some very strong words for Mr. Reed if he were continuously hitting baseball's in my direction after I politely asked him to stop. I'm sorry but that is unacceptable for him to do that.

N. Todd

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

A2ite - Your concern for the safety of others in the park sounds like it isn't necessary. Based on the article, it is clear that those balls are only landing where Jesus has decided to place them (except for the ones that don't, like Brad stated earlier). Seems like it's out of Mr. Reed's hands.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:58 p.m.

Mr. Cunningham has a penchant for being on the wrong side of things, especially as far as sharing common spaces. See his previous "work" on the entitled dog people at Slauson.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

What did I just read here?

4 Fingers

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:47 p.m.

If you want a little more info on Ron, google his name. You might be impressed.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 7:03 p.m.

Except the Wikipedia article on former baseball player Ron Reed states he was born in 1942, making him 70 years old. The article states that this Ron Reed is 63.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Hey wait a minute. If you have read an article in its entirety and taken approximately the same amount of time again to comment on it, is it reasonable to accuse of fluff reporting with a chide like "slow news day?"-?


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:02 p.m.

And tomorrow. Repeat. Your truly, Ivan Pavlov


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:56 p.m.

No, it's like reading the first article under a big font that says TOP STORIES and realizing that I've been lied to.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:52 p.m.

Isn't that like eating a bowl of soup and then sending the last bit back for a refund because it didn't taste good?


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:49 p.m.

Isnt that kind of like watching the Kardashians faithfully every week and then complaining that the networks don't deliver good programs?


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:48 p.m.

It's hard to know it's fluffy (well, the byline is probably a big clue) until you read it. What would you call it?


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

Sheesh. Just build a wall around your neighborhood an be done with it already, Burns Park. Then you can play tennis and have your non-competitive field day and film each other with your iPads through your bathroom windows without any interference from the of us Ann Arbor low-lifes.

say it plain

Thu, Jul 26, 2012 : 2:20 a.m.

You're both too funny...


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:43 p.m.

Yep. Let the Android-Huddled-Masses play at Vets Park.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:39 p.m.

Super cool! Maybe someday this guy will stop a crime in progress from 75 yards! Keep it up, you are within your rights and have a gift! I have to admit though, even knowing this guy's accuracy, it would be hard to concentrate on a game of tennis; every crack of the bat would commandeer my attention.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:32 p.m.

That's cool, but I wouldn't want him hitting baseballs in my direction either. Evidently the police agreed. Too bad that the general tone of the article seems to insinuate that the tennis players were somehow in the wrong for not wanting someone 100 yards away hitting baseballs in their direction. Evidently they didn't realize who he was and that Jesus was guiding the hit balls. Well, except for the soft ones that curve, the ones that miss, etc. And you never know when it might be "God's will" that a fly ball conks some Burns Park tennis player on the head. Slow news day or what?


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

This deserves a Pulitzer for Weirdest Story Ever.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:21 p.m.

Good for you Mr. Reed and Glenn! There are a lot of snooty people in the Burns Park/Toumy Hills neighborhoods.

Ghost of Tom Joad

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 1:59 p.m.

and clearly there are plenty of bigoted commenters here. regardless of your generalization of an entire neighborhood, you ignore the fact that what this guy is doing is dangerous. You're just happy to see him potentially harming people you dehumanize. that's fantastic.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 12:25 p.m.

The post below me is a pretty good example.


Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 11:50 a.m.



Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 11:23 a.m.

Bu can he hit a pitched ball? Therein lies the game of baseball. Otherwise, he is just a guy that can hit a ball with a wood stick.

Craig Lounsbury

Wed, Jul 25, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

the guy never claims to be playing baseball. When I drive to Kroger's I don't claim to be a Formula 1 driver either.