"Railroad Tracks Down"

The other day I heard a well respected local youth pitching coach say that the four seam fastball should be held with the “railroad tracks down”; that is, with the middle and index fingers on top of the ball on the lateral seam, the two narrow inside seams should point down.

He said he heard this from a pro, and that the ball is or feels “smaller” this way.

I can’t for the life of me figure out what he meant, except perhaps that the slant of the lateral seam on which the middle and index fingers rest allows the shorter index finger to get more of the seam.

Anyone ever heard of this?


If you hold a baseball in a 4-seam grip and look at the palm-side of your hand you will see the seams on the side of the ball making either of two different patterns, “horse-shoe up” or “horse-shoe down”.

You can easily convince yourself that there is no functional difference between these two orientations of the seams: Rotating the ball by quarter-turns precisely interchanges the two patterns.

If you interchange these two 4-seam grips while the ball is in your hand, I think most people may probably conclude they feel almost the same. There are some very subtle differences in the way the seams fit an individual’s hand & fingers for these two different ball orientations…but since they are functionally the same when the ball is spinning in flight, use whichever one you feel most comfortable with.

If you don’t think there is any meaningful difference in “feel” when you try “horse-shoe up” vs “horse-shoe down”, then don’t worry about it at all.