My new pitch: The Scruckleball (Zita Carno Read Update)


#1

I was reading about change ups recently and I noticed something. The screwball grip is so similar to a circle change grip why not throw a screwball like a fastball and see what happens. I tried it, but there was no movement. Then I decided to try releasing the ball similar to a knuckleball. The result was a hard sinker with no spin that has mainly downward movement but just a touch of lateral movement.

Here is how to grip the pitch:

Here is how to release the ball (skim the article for details):

http://www.knuckleballhq.com/

I hope you enjoy my new pitch. If you have questions, feedback, or any reason this pitch is not useful please reply.


#2

Be careful.
Yes, Carl Hubbell threw the screwball, and he threw it almost exclusively, and it got to the point where he literally screwed up his arm. When he would stand with his arms at his sides the palm of his left hand faced out. Other pitchers threw it, but they weren’t so gung-ho about the pitch; they would mix it in with their other stuff. I remember that Ed Lopat threw one, and although he considered it his best pitch he didn’t use it too much, not with all the other stuff he had. One day we were talking about some aspects of repertoire, and he asked me if I threw the screwball. I replied that I did not, and he said "Good for you. You don’t need it."
Looking at the diagrams and the video I noticed that the grip being used was rather similar to the circle change—but not entirely. I’ll bet you could get the same results with a standard curve-ball grip; it’s really the wrist and arm action that makes a screwball what it is, and therein lies trouble if you use it too much.
As for the knuckleball—here’s a very interesting, and very troublesome to the hitters, thing I learned from Mr. Lopat—you use a knuckleball grip (there are several to choose from) and throw the slider with it. It seems that he picked it up while in the minor leagues, made a note of it for future reference, worked on it, and in 1953 after the All-Star break he uncorked it—and you should have heard the rest of the hitters in the American League! They were screaming blue murder, not to mention arson, armed robbery, first degree burglary, grand larceny breaking pitch, and just about every other felony they could think of, because they couldn’t hit it for sour apples! Lopat called it a “slip pitch”, and if you can throw a good slider you can pick up this one with no trouble at all. He told me how to throw it, and he added “You’ll know what to do with it.” And this pitch is probably easier on the arm and shoulder than any variation of the screwball. 8)


#3

The pitch you are referring to Zita I think may be similar if not congruent to what Hoyt Wilhelm used to throw along with his fluttering knuck he would occasionally turn his wrist and throw a corkscrewing knuckleball.

Personally I think you should consider Zita’s opinion, the screwball could mess up your arm, try the slip/corkscrew.


#4

You guys obviously know way more than me but I am not sure you understand. All you take from the screwball is the arm motion, nothing else. And then you just throw it like a knuckleball.


#5

Exactly, and it should produce the same results as the pitch Zita is referring to but the screwball arm action is not healthy at all.


#6

Carl Hubbell is to the screwball what Mario Rivera is to the cutter. Hubbell was a great pitcher…


#7

But you don’t need screwball arm action. You just take the grip. It is more knuckleball than screwball. …maybe I don’t make sense…


#8

So which is it? The arm motion or the grip? If you’re holding a screwball you’re holding a changeup, basically, assuming you’re using a curled finger or two for the knuckle ball part (i can’t see how you’d achieve no spin without) it sounds just like the grip Jonny Niggeling used to use for his knuckleball.


#9

The grip.


#10

Hey Zita, I tried that knuckle ball slider in my pre game bullpen today and that thing has got some nasty funk to it, might try playing with it some more and using it in a game sometime.


#11

Just curious does that pitch sort of corkscrew? Because if so i believe that is a variation of Hoyt Wilhelm’s spinner aka corkscrew knuckleball.


#12

I’m not really sure, I only threw about 3 and only one was remotely close to the strike zone and it just dropped like none other.


#13

Memo to rckdhouse: Nice pitch, eh? There’s a story behind it, by the way, so if you have a few minutes, here goes.
The story begins with a catcher named Paul Richards (incidentally, the guy who invented the oversized catcher’s mitt for knuckleball pitchers). He caught for the Dodgers, the Giants and the Philadelphia Athletics in the mid-30s, and then in about 1939 or 1940 he surfaced in the AA Southern Association as playing manager for the Atlanta Crackers. There was a pitcher on his staff, an old-timer named Fred (Deacon) Johnson who threw a bewildering breaking pitch which, for want of a better name, he called a “slip pitch”. Of course Richards wanted to know more about it, because after all he had to catch it—but Johnson was a selfish coot who woldn’t even show it to his own manager! He wanted to keep it his own little secret, and here the question arises—if he wanted to keep it a secret, why was he throwing it? Anyway, Richards had to content himself with careful observation and taking voluminous notes, and finally when he felt he had it down cold he resolved that if ever he made it to the majors as a manager he would teach this pitch to whoever wanted to learn it.
After a detour of several years—World War II was raging, the Detroit Tigers had lost both their backstops to the military, and when they heard that Richards was available they tracked him down and signed him. He caught for Detroit for four years and did a very creditable job, and when the war was over he disappeared into the minors again. Then, at the end of the 1949 season he got a call from the Chicago White Sox; they wanted him to come up to the majors and manage them! He did so, and he brought that magical mystery pitch with him, and he taught it to a few guys on the pitching staff, most notably Harry Dorish and Skinny Brown who had a fair degree of success with it when they could get it to work. Of course, the sportswriters were falling all over themselves trying to find out what the pitch was, but nobody was talking, and so it seemed that the pitch would forever remain a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma.
OH YEAH?
What nobody, least of all Paul Richards, the Wizard of Waxahachie, knew was that there was another pitcher who knew about it. He had been in the Southern Association in the early 1940s, had seen the pitch thrown, and had made a mental note for future reference, and had quietly worked on it—and in 1953, after the All-Star break, had uncorked it. That pitcher was Ed Lopat. And the other batters in the AL were screaming blue murder and every felony they could think of because they couldn’t hit it to save themselves!
As to how I found out about it—one day I went to Yankee Stadium and saw Lopat beat (I think) the Chicago White Sox, and after the game I asked him what was the mystery about the slip pitch? His reaction was unexpected; he burst out laughing, and I got caught up in the hilarity, and there we were, standing outside Yankee Stadium, cracking up. When we were able to stop laughing, he said “I don’t get it. I just don’t understand these sportswriters—the way they come on, trying to make something arcane out of such a simple pitch.” And then he told me what it was. He said, “Get a knuckleball grip and throw the slider with it.” I had to agree that it was indeed a simple pitch. Then he added, "You’ll know what to do with it."
Some sportswriters thought it might be a variation of the palm ball or some such, and some others thought it an unnecessarily compllcated and therefore beyond them delivery. But Lopat knew what it was—a slider thrown with a knuckleball grip—and he told me how to throw it, and I got the hang of it right away, and the next time I pitched I used it in a game, with devastating results—the other team’s hitters couldn’t hit it for sour apples. And so I say—nice pitch. It became a key part of my rapidly expanding arsenal. Have fun with it. :slight_smile: 8) :baseballpitcher:


#14

Wow, that is a pretty interesting story Zita. I got a question, what exactly did the pitch do for you? I know that certain pitches have different results from dif arm angles, I have a high 3/4’s and it drops for me from what I can tell, no horizontal movement.


#15

I was, as you may know, a natural sidearmer, and I threw everything that way. What my pitches would do depended on whether or not I used the crossfire and whether I would change speeds on them. I remember that my slider in itself had a sharp late break to it, and when I would add the knuckleball grip (depending on whether I used a two- or a three-finger grip) I could change speeds; with the two-finger grip the pitch would move faster and drop almost like my knuckle-curve, whereas with the three-finger grip it behaved something like a forkball—but the direction would vary. I could never predict what the pitch would do; all I knew was that the hitter’s timing would be thoroughly screwed up and that he would swing hard and miss by a mile.
When one doesn’t have a fast ball to speak of one has to rely on a good assortment of breaking pitches, snake-jazz, whatever you want to call it, and I certainly had that. :slight_smile:


#16

I was, as you may know, a natural sidearmer, and I threw everything that way. What my pitches would do depended on whether or not I used the crossfire and whether I would change speeds on them. I remember that my slider in itself had a sharp late break to it, and when I would add the knuckleball grip (depending on whether I used a two- or a three-finger grip) I could change speeds; with the two-finger grip the pitch would move faster and drop almost like my knuckle-curve, whereas with the three-finger grip it behaved something like a forkball—but the direction would vary. I could never predict what the pitch would do; all I knew was that the hitter’s timing would be thoroughly screwed up and that he would swing hard and miss by a mile.
When one doesn’t have a fast ball to speak of one has to rely on a good assortment of breaking pitches, snake-jazz, whatever you want to call it, and I certainly had that. :slight_smile:


#17

I was, as you may know, a natural sidearmer, and I threw everything that way. What my pitches would do depended on whether or not I used the crossfire and whether I would change speeds on them. I remember that my slider in itself had a sharp late break to it, and when I would add the knuckleball grip (depending on whether I used a two- or a three-finger grip) I could change speeds; with the two-finger grip the pitch would move faster and drop almost like my knuckle-curve, whereas with the three-finger grip it behaved something like a forkball—but the direction would vary. I could never predict what the pitch would do; all I knew was that the hitter’s timing would be thoroughly screwed up and that he would swing hard and miss by a mile.
When one doesn’t have a fast ball to speak of one has to rely on a good assortment of breaking pitches, snake-jazz, whatever you want to call it, and I certainly had that. :slight_smile:


#18

i was trying to throw a ball like his and i called it a split two seam. i snap my wrist down