There’s an old story—or maybe it was a poem—about a centipede who had no problem getting around until a curious frog said to him, “Hey, man, I don’t know. I just don’t get it. How the heck do you know which foot to put down first?” The centipede started thinking about it—and suddenly he couldn’t move. He just sat down and thought about how to run, and he couldn’t.
You are in danger of falling into just that trap. Stop right there, and think—if you have to—about two basic premises regarding the sidearm delivery. First, it’s the most natural of all the pitching deliveries, and the easiest on the arm and shoulder. there’s no stress and strain involved, because the elbow is level with the shoulder, and thus a lot of injuries are avoided. Second, there are two ways to throw sidearm: the long-arm delivery, as exemplified by Walter Johnson and how he threw, and the short-arm, used by a lot of pitchers nowadays, wherein you just snap it through (Ed Lopat learned to use both deliveries, and I learned them from him). And then there’s the crossfire—a beautiful and lethal move that works only with the sidearm delivery and which will work with any pitch. The important thing, of course, is locating your pitches, getting them to go where you want them to (as close to the plate and as far away from the bat as possible).
I was a natural sidearmer, having discovered this when I was eleven years old and playing catch one day in the schoolyard, and I had a nice little curve ball that came attached to that delivery. I learned to change speeds on it, acquired a knuckle-curve and a palmball (my first change-up), and a little later on I learned the slider, which became my strikeout pitch. I wasn’t particularly fast—I was a finesse pitcher, a snake-jazzer who topped out at 81, but I had a very good arsenal of breaking stuff and the control and command to go with all of this—and I also picked up the crossfire. I fell so in love with that delivery that I ended up using it almost all the time, which fact did not escape my pitching coach: one day, when he was helping me with my circle change, he said to me: “I know you’re going to crossfire it. You use that move with everything you throw.” Indeed I did, and I was very successful with it.
And that’s all you need to know about the sidearm delivery. So, as my friend buwhite said, stop thinking about it and start using it. You’ll be all right. 8) :baseballpitcher: