The story of the slip pitch

The following is a version of Chapter 15 of my book “HOW TO WIN TWENTY GAMES WITHOUT A FAST BALL”
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                  THE MAGICAL MYSTERY PITCH   

A mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma.
It was called a “slip pitch”, or alternatively “The Thing”. It abruptly surfaced in the American League in 1951. Paul Richards had brought it with him when he had come up to the major leagues and taken over as manager of the Chicago White Sox. Renowned as a teacher of pitching, he had been able to impart this knowledge to a few of his pitchers. It was—but I’m getting ahead of myself.
We begin this saga with Paul Rapier Richards of Waxahachie, Texas.
Richards was a good catcher. He caught for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1932 and the New York Giants in 1933, 1934 and the first half of 1935, finishing the 1935 season with the Philadelphia Athletics. Then he disappeared into the minor leagues, where he managed for several seasons, and then in 1940 he turned up in the AA Southern Association as the playing manager for the Atlanta Crackers. And here the story begins.
The Crackers had a pitcher, an old-timer named Fred (Deacon) Johnson, who threw a bewildering breaking pitch that he called, for want of a better name, a “slip pitch”—not to be confused with the kind of pitch that slips out of a pitcher’s hand, falls to the ground with a resounding “plop”, and results in a balk being called if there’s a runner on base. Of course, Richards wanted to know more about it—after all, he did have to catch it—but Mr. Johnson was a selfish coot who wouldn’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? Be that as it may, Richards had to content himself with learning the pitch the hard way, by careful observation and voluminous notes. When he finally got it down cold, he decided that if he ever made it to the majors as a manager he would teach this pitch to whoever wanted to learn it.
Then came a detour. World War II was raging, and the Detroit Tigers had lost both their catchers to the armed forces. They desperately needed a catcher, and when they learned that Richards was available they tracked him down and signed him. He caught for the Tigers for four seasons and did a creditable job, and when the 1946 season was over he disappeared once again into the minors A few years passed, and then he got a call from the Chicago White Sox; they wanted him to come up to the majors and manage them! So he came up in 1951, bringing the slip pitch with him, and the sorcerer found a few apprentices to whom he could teach it; his most successful students were Harry Dorish and Skinny Brown, both of whom had a fair degree of success with it when they could get it to work.
The batters had a hard time with this pitch, if indeed they could hit it, and the sportswriters were falling all over themselves trying to figure it out. There was some speculation that it might be a variation of the palm ball—but no clarification was forthcoming. Nobody was talking. And so it appeared that this pitch would forever remain a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma.
Oh yeah?
What nobody, least of all Paul Rapier Richards of Waxahachie, Texas, knew or even suspected was that there was another pitcher who knew about the slip pitch. This pitcher had been in the Southern Association at the same time, and he had seen Johnson throw it in games, and he had quietly made a mental note for future reference. He came up to the White Sox in 1944 and established himself as a good pitcher with a lousy team (and in those days the White Sox were lousy); then, in 1948, just before the start of spring training, he was acquired by the New York Yankees and would spend the next 7 1/2 seasons being a very, very good pitcher with a great team.
This pitcher was Eddie Lopat, a stocky strawberry-blond lefthander who specialized in beating the Cleveland Indians to a pulp.
In 1953, after the All-Star break, Lopat uncorked the pitch, and at once the batters in the rest of the league started screaming blue murder, not to mention arson, first-degree burglary, armed robbery, grand larceny breaking pitch, and every other felony they could think of—because they couldn’t hit it for sour apples! Lopat, one of the greatest strategic pitchers in the history of the game, was far more effective with the pitch than the White Sox and later the Baltimore Orioles to whom Richards had tried to teach it. What upset the batters so was that not only did they have to contend with Steady Eddie’s screwball and his slider and several different varieties of curveball and his this and his that, not to mention the myriad variations of his this and his that—now there was THIS, and he could throw it at several different speeds. I had once guessed that in all he threw seventy-two pitches; it may have been a lot more.
I had to find out what the pitch was—if he would tell me.
So one Sunday afternoon I went to Yankee Stadium and watched the Yankees win. they were about to go on a short road trip, and so I waited outside the clubhouse entrance. When Lopat emerged, I stopped him and asked if he had a minute. He said he did—as my pitching coach, he always had a moment or two for me—and I asked him, “What’s all the mystery about the slip pitch?” His response was totally unexpected; he burst out laughing, and I thought he would never stop, and what was more, I got caught up in the hilarity, and so there we were, standing outside Yankee Stadium, cracking up. Finally, when we were able to stop, he got a quizzical look on his face. “I don’t get it,” he said in a thoughtful way. “I just can’t understand these sportswriters—how they come on like that, trying to make something arcane out of such a simple pitch.” Then he looked at me as if he were going to let me in on a deep, dark secret, and he said quietly, "Get a knuckleball grip and throw the slider with it."
I had to agree—it was indeed a simple pitch. Then he added, and his voice took on a hypnotic undertone, “You’ll know what to do with it.” I stood there for several moments, and I realized that it WAS a simple pitch, and I WOULD know what to do with it.
I worked it up in a week. Whatever you want to call it—a slider thrown with a knuckleball grip, or a knuckleball thrown like a slider—it’s the same thing, and the prerequisite is a good slider; if you can throw that you can pick up this pitch. I used it in the next game I pitched, and the batters had no more luck with it than with anything else I threw—and yes, I used the crossfire with it. A footnote: The White Sox—and the Orioles—stopped using it as soon as they heard that Eddie Lopat was throwing it. I’ve been wondering—was this because now there was no longer any mystery about it?
And there you have it—the magical mystery pitch, or so it was called before a certain lefthanded control specialist got hold of it. :slight_smile: 8) :baseballpitcher:

i cant believe how much you keep posting the same stuffs over and over again, just a reminder here, you’re like 70 year old a woman and pitched in little league. stop writting down novels about your playing days like you went 25 seasons in the majors.

secondly, a slider thrown with a knuckleball grip? seriously? to me that just sounds like a pitch that would go slow, get little to no break on it and be wild as %?& what does the knuckleball grip is suppose to do? only thing you will get is less torque on your spin and weak control.

[quote=“4pie”]i cant believe how much you keep posting the same stuffs over and over again, just a reminder here, you’re like 70 year old a woman and pitched in little league. stop writting down novels about your playing days like you went 25 seasons in the majors.

secondly, a slider thrown with a knuckleball grip? seriously? to me that just sounds like a pitch that would go slow, get little to no break on it and be wild as %?& what does the knuckleball grip is suppose to do? only thing you will get is less torque on your spin and weak control.[/quote]

Hey man whats up with you?! :roll: :shock:
If you dont want to read what she has to say DONT READ IT THEN

She has taught me how to throw a very excellent slider.
I love reading what she has to say

4pie …

I was going to delete your post - but then, I thought, let 4pie’s post stand as a blatant example of insensitivity, not to mention a lack of the simplest common courtesies.

This web site has many contributors, diverse and educational, as they are entertaining.

Zita Carno is very knowledgeable of the subjects that she writes, and every bit a lady. A lady who deserves a heck of lot better than what you did here.

Men like myself have shared a lifestyle we call baseball, as a life style of gentlemen, conducted by gentlemen, endured by gentlemen. Gentlemen who have a very, very short fuse with the belligerency that you just displayed.

I am of the generation from which she speaks. A generation that appreciates this ladies gift of narration and experiences. This lady has the eloquence of the written word, the ability to share her life experiences that has included some very gifted people, and without qualifications from you - in any way, welcomes you into that part of her life.

Zita is as truthful in her text, here, as she is timely. I’m not one for dropping names - I’m not built that way … but, I’ve met MR Lopat … and MR lopat is very bit what Zita shares with you and everyone else here.

        YOU owe this fine lady an apology.  Step-up ... we’re waiting.

Coach Baker

Thats right buddy or you can take it back to Montreal and stay there.
We don’t need you, don’t care if you post.
I’ve seen Zita help many people.
I’ve repeated myself on several occasions…not everyone reads every post and some points get made over and over…Hand behind the ball, comments on momentum…etc…good grief, I’ve seen Steven repeat himself.
I don’t know what your problem is but heres an invite to just refrain from comment on threads that Zita posts on…or better yet, how about some productive comment that adds to the thread.
This lady has lived through some of the most interesting times in our art. She tries hard to share this history and I appreciate it…I know many of our posters do… It’s ok if that doesn’t interest you…I assure you she would never be a jerk to you because you posted something that was less than compelling…how bout a bit of the “Golden Rule” and just shut the hell up…re Zita Posts or threads.
I won’t tell you again and you won’t recieve another comment from me on this issue…the or is that you can find another forum.


Since you seem to enjoy dishing out the criticism maybe you can take it…

There is absolutley nothing you can do now to extract your putrid foul smelling foot from your pathetic rotten mouth.

I happen to have a signed copy of Zita’s book, “HOW TO WIN TWENTY GAMES WITHOUT A FAST BALL”. I am sure that you could not only learn a few things about the game of baseball from this book, but more importantly about the game of life. I am also sure that you are interacting with other members of your small world with the same disrespect and moral emptiness. I am comforted knowing that you will be repaid in kind for your heartless attack on this fine gentle lady. She has celebrated her life by sharing rare experiences with others not so fortunate. Incidentally, she has not boasted about her accomplishments in music. I couldn’t be any more disgusted with you if you had offended my own dear mother.

Shut your 4pie hole…before somebody shuts it for you. :evil:




[quote=“4pie”]i cant believe how much you keep posting the same stuffs over and over again, just a reminder here, you’re like 70 year old a woman and pitched in little league. stop writting down novels about your playing days like you went 25 seasons in the majors.

secondly, a slider thrown with a knuckleball grip? seriously? to me that just sounds like a pitch that would go slow, get little to no break on it and be wild as %?& what does the knuckleball grip is suppose to do? only thing you will get is less torque on your spin and weak control.[/quote

You’re mad at your dad not at Zita.

I believe the slip pitch to be a version of Hoyt Wilhelm’s “spinner” or corkscrew knuckleball, think about it, if it came off with little spin and the rotation was like a spiral the orientation of the seams may give it Wilhelm’s corkscrew movement.

I have one more comment. It’s a quote from Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, and I find it extremely appropriate when dealing with situations such as this:
"Peace, you mumbling fool;
"Utter your gravity o’er a gossip’s bowl,
“For here we need it not.” 8)

I think this should become a Golden Thread. Let’s PM jdfromfla, Roger, and Steven Ellis.

im just tired of getting a novel any time someone asks a question she has like 3 stories and keep repeating them over and over again for the past few years.

Power Pitcher11: whats up with me? just that, she keeps making same posts over and over again, to the point where it almost gets as annoying as a spambot

Coach Baker: if this was the first time i ever heard this story i wouldnt be annoyed, but thats like the 10th time. thats where it gets annoying. somebody needs to reminder her from time to time so that her 20 some years of baseball do not end up as a handful of stories about how she threw sidearm and had no fastball to speak of.

jdfromfla: you’re just being aggressive telling me not to be aggressive so i wont even go there…

Dino: seriously just relax. i guess thats cool you have a signed book and all thing is i could probably write the same book down just from copy pasting the stuff she wrote in here.
oh and whats up with the videos? first one was my old mechanics and this helped me a lot to make them better.
second one is just an instructional and is for kids so they dont pop their shoulder out when they try to throw it. i was thought this pitch from bill lee in a exhibition game they had a couple years ago so i guess he knew a bit about it.

pustulio this could be but it definetly sounds like just a slider thrown from the k ball grip and that justs dont make sens.

I’m telling you to stop trolling the ladies threads or you will be removed from the forum.
I there is not a single word that you’ve dropped on this thread that has a positive or helpful hint or even just a reason…other than to be a jerk for being here. It won’t be tolerated.
I know certainly that there are folks who don’t like the way I write…they don’t write on threads I do. Thats cool. No need for your judgements, or thoughts re: Zita…none…so shut your stinkin pie hole in threads shes started. You have no business trolling her, it isn’t what our site is about.

The lady is helping other people with the same thing that is constantly being asked, if you’re going to blame anyone for repetition blame the people that cannot use the search function.

If you’ve already read what she has to say then just flat out don’t read it, it’s a simple concept. Take a peak in the mirror before you go off insulting somebody else. You know I’ll be honest, I’ve thought the same thing “This is repetitive.” however instead of making an @$$ of myself I’ve decided to rather skim through for the new things that may be helpful to me. Believe it or not it’s not as though the same thing is posted every single time she posts, there is some useful stuff in there.

By the way the slip pitch has got to be the corkscrew knuckleball, to have been that devastating to Major League hitters it had to have done something and something that is unusual.

Hey 4pie, Zita is just about one of the best pitching coaches I’ve ever had. So keep it down about her.

Zita, here is the corkscrew knuckleball:

Is that similar to a slip pitch?

In a way. I’ve been reading through all those posts you put up about the "corkscrew knuckleball—thanks!—and one thing got to me: the use of the grip for the slider, in which the ball is held off-center with the index and middle fingers very close together. If one does that with a knuckleball grip and throws it like the “hard” slider, one will get something quite similar. I remember when I was working on the pitch; I experimented a little, and I found that I could get the result I wanted by using that grip and throwing it as I would the “hard” slider. (I also had a changeup slider but I threw it the ordinary way.) And being a sidearmer definitely helped. :slight_smile: 8)

4pie, obviously you have never tried the pitch that Zita speaks of. I have actually tried it, and I will admit I was extremely skeptical at first but instead of speaking out of my @%# about how it wouldn’t work, I gave it a shot. It works, trust me, that thing is quite the nasty pitch actually.

And if you now try it and you can’t get it to work, then you probably don’t have a sufficient slider to get it to work, I already have a good slider so it works for me but having the slider is definitely a pre req.

@Zita, in the words of my generation “let the haters hate” just ignore 4pie

… …

That’s just one wrong, of many wrongs you seem to be impressed with.

Don’t go there.

This web site is a great medium for expressing all kinds of ideas, experiences, and added-value. You have contributed your share along these lines too. I’ve glanced over some of your contributions and there pretty good.

Look, live and learn that the finer things in life are not what you might think … the way things should be. We all have expressions of our feelings and the wanting to share those expressions with others. You’ve done it, and it might seem worthy to you - but less to others.

All I’m saying is be a bit more graceful, tactful, easy-going, and you’ll go a lot farther than not. And especially being a man, be more of a gentleman, kinder in words and intent. This is a quality that’ll serve you well in later life - trust me on this one.

Keep this crisp, startch mind-set, and in later years you’ll be one of those guys that you see at your local bar … holding on to a glass of courage, mad at the world and with litte if any chance of bettering it.

4pie - you’re not a kid, nor are you missing the point here either. Don’t dig your heels in and keep this approach of yours - even though your entitled to it.

Someday you’ll want a little space on either side of you as you share your experiences. If and when some one slams the door shut in your face, remember the door handle that you grabed on to here. I know your made of better stuff.

Coach B.

hey 4pie. calm down. it was a good story. and shes very knowledgable. could you write the story.