07/06/2004: Thought for the Day:
The purest junk -- the junkiest pitch in history -- is the Eephus pitch, invented by Rip Sewell of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the thirties. The Eephus pitch is a pitch with absolutely nothing on it -- no velocity, no fancy spin, and no break. No deception at all. And most of all, no SPEED.
It’s an American Gothic, a true Mother-Hubbard’s-bare-cupboard of a pitch. Every once in a while, Sewell would just look at the plate, and lob the baseball up into a rainbow arc. There was no ulterior motive here. No trick. It’s the same pitch you see on a slow pitch softball field, only overhand, and higher, and, somehow, even slower.
Sometimes, the ball dropped down into the strike zone while the suddenly emasculated hitter flailed More often they managed some kind of contact, yet for some reason (perhaps arc of the pitch was too severe) they couldn’t knock it out of the park. And that’s all they wanted to do.
As a hitter, you don’t see an outrageous pitch like the Eephus and think, Single. The Eephus pitch was an insult: they wanted to pulverize it, kill it, crush it. They’d get so worked up waiting for it they couldn’t see it straight, and they’d ground out, or pop out, or miss altogether. They risked injury -- the swings they took were that hard. And then they were embarrassed, angry. Give it to me again, you son-of-a-bitch!
--Kirk Robinson [The Baseball Page, on the "eephus"]
Len on 07.06.04 @ 06:56 AM CST