He led the National League in wins twice and pitched a no-hitter on August 5th, 1973. Despite his success on the baseball diamond, he is best known for his involvement with the Chicago Black Sox scandal, which led to his lifetime ban from baseball. “Every time I’d get an out with it, I’d turn around and look at our infielders,” LaRoche later told the New York Times, “and Bucky [Dent], Willie Randolph and [Graig] Nettles would have their gloves up laughing. He retired in 1946 at the age of 46, as the franchise’s career leader in wins with 260, a mark that still stands today. pic.twitter.com/SzJ00uv10Q. He is easily the greatest knuckleballer ever. Overview of a Knuckleball. The pitch started up above a batter's head, and to opposing hitters it must have felt like trying to hit a single droplet in a waterfall. Maurice Van Robays, Sewell’s Pirates teammate, explained that the word “eephus” (possibly from the Hebrew word “efes,” or zero) meant it was “a nothing pitch.” Whatever it was, the eephus mostly worked; it helped Sewell pitch nearly a decade longer with his new toy and notch back-to-back 21-win seasons in 1943-44. There have been only a few teams of note to elect to use a rotation of knuckleballers. Jamie MoyerMLB pitchers only got faster during Moyer’s 25-year career, but he pressed on with a fastball that sometimes struggled to cross 80 mph.
Despite being used successfully for over a century, it was only recently that a knuckleball pitcher was recognized with the Cy Young Award, which was accomplished by R.A. Dickey in 2012. Its most famous use came against Brewers slugger Gorman Thomas, who spun himself into the ground after swinging through it for strike three on Sept. 9, 1981. Six years later, Dickey made baseball history when he became the first knuckleballer to earn the Cy Young Award and led the National League in strikeouts. Lyons benefitted greatly from an agreement with White Sox managers who assured him that he would start no more than 30 games in a season. Eephus division. Or Dave LaRoche's son, Adam, who got a taste of his dad's old medicine when Darvish struck him out looking on a 59 mph dandy. Alex Rodriguez once said of the pitch, “You might as well not even look for it, because you're not going to hit it. Rip Sewell. He maintained a sense of humor about the incident and appeared on Letterman while serving his suspension.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997 after retiring with 318 wins, good enough for 16th all-time and the most of any knuckleballer. Carl HubbellMathewson twisted his screwball from the right hand, while Hubbell’s scroogie came from the left. Zack Greinke's slow curve is mesmerizing. The knuckleball was seen as something of a trick pitch that aging hurlers used to try to stay in the game before Wilhelm made it his primary weapon of choice. He added five Gold Gloves to go along with all of his other accolades. Cicotte won the 1917 World Series and led the American League in ERA that season. Ted Lyons was one of the most successful knuckleball pitchers of all time and spent his entire career with the Chicago White Sox. These men have enjoyed careers thanks to a pitch that is crafted and unique to each person that throws it. Slower-than-slow pitches have given some moundsmen 15 minutes of fame, and they’ve extended the careers of others. Phil Niekro, Filthy Two Pitch K Sequence. Phil Niekro is the best knuckleball pitcher of all time. Phil Niekro, Tim Wakefield, and R.A. Dickey, three of the best knuckleball pitchers of all time came by the Cave to do media for the release of “Knuckleball!” the movie. Wood also holds the distinction of being the last pitcher to start both games of a doubleheader, which he accomplished in 1973, despite losing both games. Wilhelm was one of the most dominant relief pitchers of any era and was the first pitcher to save 200 games. As much as Wakefield wanted to play the infield, that knuckleball became his meal ticket. Utilizing the pitch, Wood’s career flourished, and he became one of the last pitchers in baseball history to throw well over 300 innings per season. Sánchez has resurrected his career in recent years by taking a lot off his pitches, and “La Mariposa” is the most aesthetically pleasing weapon in his new arsenal. Niekro was named to five All-Star teams and earned five Gold Glove Awards, in addition to the Roberto Clemente Award in 1980. The knuckleball has been utilized by pitchers for over a century to deceive and frustrate opposing hitters.

He retired in 1972, making his last appearance just days short of his 50th birthday, and his career ERA of 2.52 was the lowest of any pitcher with at least 2,000 inning since Walter Johnson in 1927. Vicente PadillaInspiring Vin Scully to nickname one of your pitches is quite an honor (just ask Clayton Kershaw), and so Padilla had to feel some pride knowing Scully named his mid-50s curveball the “soap bubble.” Padilla used his soap bubble early and often to keep a rotation spot with Los Angeles in 2010, his last full season as a starting pitcher. The knuckleball has been utilized by pitchers for over a century to deceive and frustrate opposing hitters. According to Rob Neyer, there have been at least 85 pitchers known as knuckleballers throughout baseball’s history. Niekro is the only knuckleballer to eclipse the 300 wins mark, and he was inducted into … He utilized the pitch to great success during his 24-year career. He is also remembered for an incident in 1987, which saw him suspended for ten games when umpire Tim Tschida caught him with a piece of sandpaper and an emery board while on the mound. This two-time World Series champion is one of the most admired and endeared figures in modern Red Sox history. Hoyt Wilhelm“Old Sarge” had a devastating knuckler (his career-adjusted 147 ERA+ ranks among the top 10 marks in history) that allowed him to be extremely durable (1,070 appearances, sixth all-time). In spite of this, his lifetime ban was upheld by Kennsaw Mountain Landis. Alex Schaffer is a contributing writer to The Sportster. Fernando ValenzuelaValenzuela is the last starting pitcher to successfully make the screwball a featured part of his arsenal, and “Fernandomania” wouldn’t have happened without it. Sewell was not the first pitcher to hurl a ball straight up to the heavens - … Twice he led the American league in wins and led in starts from 1972 to 1975. Fluttering as low as 59 mph and coming in up to 35 mph slower than his fastball, Abad’s super change has frozen a lot of hitters in place. And when Niekro sequenced one of the greatest knuckleballs of all time with an eephus? Somehow Moyer’s cutting and sinking fastballs stayed effective as he pitched into his late 40s, and maybe no pitcher has done more with less. Tim WakefieldWakefield began his career as an infielder in the Pirates’ farm system, only making an impression after his Class A manager saw him fooling around with a knuckler while playing catch. Wood was named to three All Star teams during his career, and he retired with 164 wins and a career ERA of 3.24 in 1978. ", In honor of Barry Zito's birthday, we show you just how NASTY his curveball was (via @MLB)pic.twitter.com/0XcLKcSHuE. Unique lists featuring pop culture, entertainment and crazy facts.

Due to its low spin rate and what researchers call an aerodynamic phenomenon of “ unsteady lift forces ”—likely created by the seams—the ball will “dance” or “zig-zag” as it travels towards the plate. Hough even led the league in games started twice in his career.

Slower-than-slow pitches have given some moundsmen 15. Mathewson saved the pitch -- which broke the reverse direction of a curveball -- for a game’s biggest moments, but it was devastating once unleashed. The erratic tendencies of the pitch are caused by its lack of rotation due to a pitcher’s knuckle grip on the ball. Hubbell won two National League MVP awards, struck out five of the game’s greatest sluggers in succession in the 1934 All-Star Game (almost exclusively with screwballs) and later won 24 straight games. While fastball pitchers arms are subject to injury and deterioration over time, velocity is not necessary for a successful knuckleballer to be effective, allowing pitchers like Tim Wakefield, Hoyt Wilhem, and Phil Niekro to extend their careers into their late 40s. Dickey was named to the 2012 All-Star team and was traded the following offseason by the New York Mets. John Soteropulos’ Knuckleball.

Knuckleball! is a documentary that highlights the game’s most unpredictable pitch and the pitchers that have perfected it. Arch your pointer and middle fingers so … Jimmy Dykes began using him solely in Sunday afternoon games, earning him the nickname “Sunday Teddy.” He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955. Joe Niekro was the younger brother of Phil Niekro and is currently the third winningest knuckleball pitcher of all time. With the release of this film and the knuckleball buzz in the Cave right now, it got me thinking: Who are the best knuckleball pitchers of all time? Hamilton was a 6-foot-6 former NBA player who found a second career as a big league southpaw reliever, and in 1970 he debuted a pitch soon known as the “Folly Floater” that sent Indians first baseman Tony Horton crawling to the dugout. Statcast and pitch F/X have combined to track only 15 slow curves across Darvish’s career (and again, that’s separating them from his standard and knuckle curves), but ask Torii Hunter about its ability to buckle one’s knees, head and shoulders at the same time.

But I had to keep a straight face.”, Steve HamiltonLaRoche wasn’t the first pitcher to send an eephus into the Bronx sky. Yu DarvishIt shouldn’t surprise that Darvish, whose arsenal includes up to 10 pitches, dusts off an extremely slow, 50- to 60-mph hook from time to time. This allowed Hough to have impressive career totals of 216 wins, 2,362 strikeouts, and a career ERA of 3.75. Hoyt Wilhelm pitched for nine different teams during his 21-year Major League career. Rip SewellSewell was not the first pitcher to hurl a ball straight up to the heavens -- that, according to baseball historians John Thorn and John Holway, would be 1890s pitcher Bill Phillips -- but Phillips’ skyball lay dormant until Sewell blew the dust off.

Barry ZitoThere haven’t been many more gorgeous pitches thrown in the 21st century than Zito’s big hook. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB. Velocity is everywhere in modern baseball, fostered in the amateur ranks, enhanced through high-speed cameras and advanced training techniques and flashed on scoreboard graphics after every pitch. In addition, he won 186 games (second in franchise history), which was due in large part to his 11 seasons with 10+ wins. It mangled Hubbell’s arm so that his left palm bent outwards after his playing days, but there’s no disputing the heights to which that screwball took him. He was rewarded with a 3-year/$36 million contract by the Toronto Blue Jays and continues his MLB career today. The (Mostly) Complete List of Knuckleball Pitchers lists approximately 85 individuals on a … The “Folly Floater” was popular in New York, but not so much once Hamilton was traded to the Giants: a National League umpire ruled it illegal, angrily explaining that the Senior Circuit was “no halfway league.”. Over his 17 years with the Red Sox, he became the franchise leader in innings pitched.

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