KNUCKLEBALL

“O knuckleball, o knuckleball, No other pitch can match thee. O knuckleball, o knuckleball, How hard it is to catch thee. You grip the ball, and then you throw; No telling where that pitch will go! O knuckleball, o knuckleball, How hard it is to catch thee.” (My own words to a particular Christmas carol.) And that being said, let me state a few facts about this most exasperating pitch. On the one hand, it puts virtually no strain on the arm or shoulder, which is one reason so many pitchers who throw it last as long as they do. On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to control, because it depends on so many factors, particularly the weather and the wind. If you’ve noticed, when the weather is hot and dry and there is practically no wind (Arlington, Texas for instance), the thing simply will not knuckle if you stood on your head. Whereas when the weather is damp and cool, that pitch will go all over the place. Now—it really doesn’t matter what pitching delivery you use, although I would suggest you try throwing with a sidearm or low 3/4 delivery. And you might want to try doing what R.A. Dickey does; he throws what we might call a “hard” knuckler, more like a fast ball but with the standard grip. You may have noticed how effective that pitch is. And there are a few interesting variations of that pitch. For instance, there’s the knuckle curve (my second best pitch in my playing days)—you use any of several different knuckleball grips and throw your curve ball. I used to do it with a sharp karate-chop wrist snap, and that baby had a very nasty break. And then there’s the “slip” pitch. There are a couple of different versions of it; the one I learned from Eddie Lopat was a slider thrown with a knuckleball grip (or a knuckleball thrown with the wrist action of the slider—same pitch). I remember when Lopat uncorked that one after the 1953 All-Star break; the batters were screaming blue murder, not to mention arson, burglary, grand larceny breaking pitch and every other felony they could think of because they couldn’t hit it for sour apples! So…you find a delivery that’s comfortable for you, and get yourself a nice little knuckleball. :slight_smile: 8)