I knew a kid, who is now pitching in the big 12, who threw his curveball, gripped like a knuckleball, and before release he would “push” the ball out. He wouldnt turn his wrist, he would throw it like a fastball, but push it out with his index and middle finger. We all tried to learn it, but broke our fingernails and stopped. Is there a common name for a curveball like this? and how can you teach kids to throw it?
Well, that may be one way to throw a knuckle-curve, but how about if you can do it without busting your fingernails?
I used to throw a knuckle-curve with a grip wherein I held the ball with a standard knuckleball grip—just used the fingertips, and I threw it with a sharp karate-chop wrist-snap the way I did the standard curveball. That pitch had a very nasty break to it; it would come in there looking like a fastball but would suddenly drop, like a glass crashing to the floor and splintering into little fragments. And the batters used to scream blue murder as they swung over that pitch. You might try that, using a two-finger or three-finger grip, whichever gets you the result you want. 8)
My son throws his knuckle curve with only the index finger in a knuckle position. He throws it like a slider with the wrist roll at finish.
That sounds like a variation of a pitch I used to throw a lot—a “slip pitch” which I learned from Eddie Lopat. He told me that this version of the “slip” was a hard slider thrown with a knuckleball grip, and he added “You’ll know what to do with it.” I used a couple of different knuckleball grips, two, three-finger, and I threw everything sidearm as was my wont, sometimes with the crossfire which I had fallen so in love with that I used it extensively. Tell your kid he’s got a good one there and to keep on using it. :baseballpitcher:
Will do. He loves the pitch. He can throw it hard and get the sharp break of the power curve/slider, or, take a litlle off and increase the size of the break.
I’ve got to tell you this story—it’s very funny as well as informative.
It begins with Paul Richards, who was a very good catcher back in the 30s. He caught for the Dodgers, the Giants and the Philadelphia Athletics, and around 1939 he became the playing manager of the Atlanta Crackers in the AA Southern Association. There was an old-time pitcher on that team who threw a bewildering breaking pitch that for want of a better name he called a “slip” pitch. Richards wanted to know more about it, because after all he had to catch it, but that pitcher was a selfish coot who wouldn’t even show it to his own manager, so Richards had to learn it the hard way—watching and making copious notes. He then decided that if he ever made it to the majors he would teach that pitch to whoever wanted to learn it.
After a four-year detour—the Detroit Tigers had lost their two backstops to the armed forces and needed a catcher, so they tracked Richards down and signed him—he eventually got a call from the Chicago White Sox who wanted him to come up to the majors and manage them! He came up and brought that pitch with him, and he taught it to a couple of the White Sox hurlers who had some success with it when they could get it to work. That pitch, which some sportswriters thought might be a variation of the palm ball, was a source of consternation; they fell all over themselves trying to figure out what it was but nobody was talking, so they decided that it would be forever a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma.
What nobody knew was that there was another pitcher who knew about it. He had seen it thrown in games when he was pitching in the Southern Association, and he made a mental note for future reference and worked it up. In 1944 he came up to the White Sox, became known as a good pitcher with one of the lousiest teams in creation, and then he was traded to the Yankees in 1948 and for seven and a half years was known as one of that team’s top pitchers. In 1953, after the All-Star break, he uncorked it, and you should have heard the batters scream blue murder, not to mention armed robbery, arson, first degree burglary, grand larceny breaking pitch, and a whole compendium of every Class-A felony they could think of—they couldn’t hit it for sour apples!
I decided I had to find out what that pitch was, so one day after a game which the Yankees won I caught up with Eddie Lopat—yes, that Eddie Lopat—and I asked him what was all the mystery about the slip pitch. He burst out laughing, and I got caught up in it, and there we were, standing outside the Stadium cracking up! Finally he got philosophical and said he couldn’t understand how the sportswriters were coming on, trying to make something arcane out of such a simple pitch. And he told me what it was—a hard slider thrown with a knuckleball grip. I had to agree that it was indeed a simple pitch. And then he told me—in a calm voice with a quiet hypnotic undertone that grabbed me and held me where I was: "You’ll know what to do with it."
It took me less than a week to get the hang of it—after all, the basis of that pitch was a good slider, which I had—and I started using it, and my teammates and I had so much fun making the opposing batters look even sillier, even more stupid, with this addition to my arsenal.
So, as I said, tell your kid to keep throwing it. Big league all the way. 8)
Great story Zita, Thanks for sharing it.