What Slider?


#1

Our pitching staff had seen a rough go of it for the last five or six games and we had to go deeper into the rotation - more than usual, using two very inexperienced youngsters that came by us under unusual circumstances.

I had little time to really get familiar with their work much less their ability to hold their own - but there we were.

One of them got the call to relieve in the third inning of play, and he went through the batting order like a buzz saw. He finished the game without a single hit against him.

After the game I met with both our backstop and the man, to get a better idea of what was what. My backstop told me that the guy had an incredible slider like he had ever seen before. When the man was asked about the pitch - slider, that wasn’t in his pitch inventory sheet, he said - “ what slider? I kept on getting fastball, down-n-in, down-n-away, so that’s what I did.”

It seems (and only a guess) the man was so nervous that his grip and delivery changed just enough, pitch after pitch, that his movement and location just couldn’t be figured out. Even after witnessing himself what his pitch was doing, he just went with the flow.

Later on, trying to develop a better feel for the man’s work, he never really got that amazing slider back.

Being sensitive to the way you feel during a game is your best friend. Take note of your emotions, be alter to changes in your behavior and why, don’t let pressure dominate your appearance. Again, take special notice of your emotions out there.

Coach B.


#2

I’ve often noticed with my own four-seam fastball
that just by changing the placement of even one finger,
I can get a whole lot of movement on the pitch.
Sometimes people are so confused by the movement that
they think the four-seam fastball is some kind of breaking ball.


#3

What age group do you coach? I know that when I began playing baseball, it took me a while to loose the movement on all of my throws because I was already playing football for 5 years. I guess because of I was use to throwing spirals with a football when I started playing baseball i had natural movement. I decided one day I wanted to pitch and learned how to throw a slider and knucklecurve in 1 day. To some people nastiness just comes natural…


#4

To CardsWin: Maybe it is some kind of breaking ball. You might be throwing a slider or something similar to it without being aware of it. And that gives you an extra pitch. So don’t worry about it, just go with it. :slight_smile:


#5

Since that happens alot with my four-seam fastball (or whatever it actually is), I usually tend to go with my two-seam fastball more.
I actually think that the reason my four-seam fastball moves alot,
is probably a result of the way I throw it with my arm.
Meaning, I probably throw the four-seam fastball with the wrist and forearm angle of some other pitch.


#6

CardsWin, don’t even think about it. It’s probably one of those “feel” pitches, so just go with it. You’re getting the batters out, and that’s what counts. :slight_smile:


#7

Changing the placement of the thumb happens by accident even some times and can result in varying pitches/movement…I am a huge advocate of finger pressure.

I also always tell kids to experiement with their grips regardless of the level…all of us who have thrown a baseball enough know that sometimes even when playing grab we throw something cool by accident but have no idea what we did.

Finger placement, finger pressure and subtle thumb movement can all equate to effective pitches that are simply a derivative of one we are already using.


#8

How well I know, Coach. When one experiments with different grips, there’s no telling what one will come up with. Let me tell you the story of the “slip” pitch…
In 1939, I believe it was, Paul Richards was the playing manager of the Atlanta Crackers of the AA Southern Association, and he had a pitcher on his staff, an old-timer named Deacon Johnson. This guy threw a bewildering breaking pitch that he called, for want of a better name, a “slip” pitch, and the batters had the devil’s own time trying to hit it. Of course, Richards wanted to know more about it, because after all he had to catch it—but this Johnson was a selfish coot who wouldn’t even show it to his own manager! So Richards had to figure it out by careful observation, and he decided that if he ever made it to the majors as a manager he would teach that pitch to whoever wanted to learn it.
After a detour to Detroit, where he caught for four years, he returned to the minors, and at the end of the 1950 season he got a call from the Chicago White Sox who wanted him to come up to the Windy City and manage them. He came up, and he brought that pitch with him, and he found a few guys there to whom he taught it—notably Harry Dorish and Skinny Brown, both of whom had a fair degree of success with it. The sportswriters were falling all over themselves trying to find out what it was—some thought it might be a variation of the palm ball—but nobody was talking, and so it was believed that this pitch would forever be a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma.
Oh yeah? What nobody, least of all Richards, knew or even suspected was that there was another pitcher who knew about it. He had been in the Southern Association at the same time as Deacon Johnson, and he had seen that pitch thrown in games, and he had made a mental note of it for future reference. He came up to the majors in 1944, and in 1948 he was traded to the Yankees, and he quietly worked on that pitch. His name was Ed Lopat, and in 1953, after the All-Star break, he uncorked it to the immense discomfiture of opposing batters who couldn’t hit it for sour apples.
One day after a game at Yankee Stadium I asked Lopat about it—what was all the mystery about that “slip” pitch—and after a couple of minutes in which both of us were cracking up, he told me. He said, “Get a knuckleball grip and throw the slider with it.” That was it—a slider thrown with a knuckleball grip, or a knuckleball thrown with the wrist action of the slider, take your pick. And he said, “You’ll know what to do with it.” Now here’s the punch line: the White Sox pitchers stopped throwing it as soon as they heard that Lopat was using it, and more effectively than they were.
And I had an extra pitch to add to my arsenal, and like everything else I threw I crossfired it a lot. :slight_smile:


#9

Zita…I love reading your posts that often include stories from times long before I was born in 1968.

With that being typed do you recall a man by the name of Gene Conley?

Pitched mainly with Boston and Milwaukee from around the early 50’s to early 60’s…(may still be alive, I don’t know as he would be 80 or so)…
…he was/is my dad’s second cousin.

I only ask because of the time frames you bring up being in around the time he use to play.

Personally, I don’t know much about the man other then basically what I shared here…simply curious is all.


#10

Yeah, I remember that guy. Six feet eight, and not a bad pitcher at all. But even better as a pro basketball player. There’s a story about him—one day, when he was attempting a comeback, he started a game and was knocked out of the box by a bunch of minor leaguers. He returned to the dugout and sat there crying. The manager came over and put his arm around Conley, trying to console him, and asked “What’s the matter, son? Did you lose your mother?” Conley’s reply: “No, sir. I lost my fast ball.” 8)


#11

Thats absolutely sweet Zita!!! Thanks! I knew he played basketball but had never heard much about that; just the baseball portion…a few stories here and there of him on the diamond but not much in the line of any details.

It is sooooo cool you could share that with me. Feel free to PM or email me any time with any other info you could give me about him.

THANKS!!!


#12

Hello again, Coach.
Gene Conley is 80 now and still very much with us, enjoying retirement. I googled him and came up with a whole slew of information about him, including this funny story: Robin Roberts was at a card show one time, some 12 years ago, and a guy came up to him and said that he had found Conley’s missing fast ball. Conley, who was there, said that he would love to have it back.
If you google him—just type in “Gene Conley”—you will find not only his statistics, both in baseball and in basketball, but all kinds of biographical information dating back to his birth in Muskogee, Oklahoma, his college years, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It makes for fascinating reading, and you’ll have a chance to reconnect in some small way with your dad’s second cousin.
And speaking of losing a fast ball—Conley might remember this one because he was active at the time. In 1961 the Cincinnati Reds, if you recall, were in the thick of a heated pennant race. They had a pitcher named Jay Hook whose middle name should have been “Inconsistent” because that was what he was. He reminded one of the little girl with the curl in the old nursery rhyme: when he was good, he was very, very good, but when he was bad—he stank on hot ice, as we used to say in New York City when describing something so bad it defied description. Well, on one day Hook was pitching against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he stank on hot ice and then some. the Pirates were eating him alive, turning everything he threw into line-drive extra-base hits. Finally, in the fifth inning or so, manager Fred Hutchinson couldn’t take it any more and he went out to the mound and gave Hook the hook, no pun intended. The unfortunate pitcher returned to the dugout and sat down in a corner and bemoaned the loss of his fast ball; it had up and deserted him.
Jim Brosnan, who relates this story in his book “Pennant Race” (more fascinating reading), might have made a very good pitching coach had he been so inclined. He tried to explain things to Hook, saying, “Nobody has all his good stuff every time out. That’s when you learn this game. You have other pitches to throw; use them when your fast ball isn’t there.” But he might as well have been talking to the wall. Hook appeared not to hear him; he just sat there and moaned, over and over and over, “Without my fast ball I can’t pitch.” So Brosnan gave up trying to talk to him.
And that brings up a point. A pitcher who has everything but a fast ball to begin with may be luckier than one who relies so much—perhaps too much—on the cheese and who practically collapses when he loses that pitch. These finesse pitchers, not having much in the way of speed, can compensate with good breaking stuff, control, command and deception.
And they win a lot of games. :slight_smile: :baseballpitcher:


#13

I spoke to my father about Gene yesterday and he gave me a few more tidbits…those with hillbilly roots seem to scatter a bit in their recollection of things anmd families tend to get spread out a bit :roll:

I too googled him yesterday and found some stuff I had never known.

I only wish I had the time to do an extensive family tree research project becuase stuff like that interests me…actually Gene was my dad’s third cousin once removed; not sure what that really means but that is how my dad explained it… :lol:

“If you can’t throw hard don’t believe that you are.”


#14

Second cousin—third cousin—what does it matter? it’s still family, isn’t it? And just googling enabled you to make that connection. Maybe when you have more time you can explore it more extensively; another good way is to go to a website called “ancestry.com”, sign up for a month or two, and see what else can be dug up. Go to it! :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


#15

[quote=“Zita Carno”]How well I know, Coach. When one experiments with different grips, there’s no telling what one will come up with. Let me tell you the story of the “slip” pitch…
In 1939, I believe it was, Paul Richards was the playing manager of the Atlanta Crackers of the AA Southern Association, and he had a pitcher on his staff, an old-timer named Deacon Johnson. This guy threw a bewildering breaking pitch that he called, for want of a better name, a “slip” pitch, and the batters had the devil’s own time trying to hit it. Of course, Richards wanted to know more about it, because after all he had to catch it—but this Johnson was a selfish coot who wouldn’t even show it to his own manager! So Richards had to figure it out by careful observation, and he decided that if he ever made it to the majors as a manager he would teach that pitch to whoever wanted to learn it.
After a detour to Detroit, where he caught for four years, he returned to the minors, and at the end of the 1950 season he got a call from the Chicago White Sox who wanted him to come up to the Windy City and manage them. He came up, and he brought that pitch with him, and he found a few guys there to whom he taught it—notably Harry Dorish and Skinny Brown, both of whom had a fair degree of success with it. The sportswriters were falling all over themselves trying to find out what it was—some thought it might be a variation of the palm ball—but nobody was talking, and so it was believed that this pitch would forever be a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an enigma.
Oh yeah? What nobody, least of all Richards, knew or even suspected was that there was another pitcher who knew about it. He had been in the Southern Association at the same time as Deacon Johnson, and he had seen that pitch thrown in games, and he had made a mental note of it for future reference. He came up to the majors in 1944, and in 1948 he was traded to the Yankees, and he quietly worked on that pitch. His name was Ed Lopat, and in 1953, after the All-Star break, he uncorked it to the immense discomfiture of opposing batters who couldn’t hit it for sour apples.
One day after a game at Yankee Stadium I asked Lopat about it—what was all the mystery about that “slip” pitch—and after a couple of minutes in which both of us were cracking up, he told me. He said, “Get a knuckleball grip and throw the slider with it.” That was it—a slider thrown with a knuckleball grip, or a knuckleball thrown with the wrist action of the slider, take your pick. And he said, “You’ll know what to do with it.” Now here’s the punch line: the White Sox pitchers stopped throwing it as soon as they heard that Lopat was using it, and more effectively than they were. [/quote]

Zita-
I really like the slip pitch. This past winter I tried working on it,
and have actually found that I get less spin on the ball (when throwing the slip pitch) than when throwing a knuckleball. I actually throw the slip pitch like I throw my curveball. Not quite as sharp arm action, but close.
It’s a great pitch- now I just need to work on getting fastball arm speed on it, and using it actually against batters.


#16

You will indeed, CardsWin—and don’t be surprised at their reaction. Among other things, some batters will swing and miss and lose their balance and fall over on their tushes with their arms and legs up in the air like overturned bugs. You get that fastball arm speed, that pitch will be an absolute killer.
I got the nickname “The Exterminator” pinned on me one afternoon when I was warming up prior to starting a game. Suddenly our second baseman came running up to me and exclaimed, with no attempt to conceal his delight and pleasure, “Hey, guess what! You have a nickname!” When I asked him what it was, he told me that the rest of the league—the team I played on was one of six in that league—was calling me “The Exterminator” because I was just killing them! I liked that. For the rest of my playing days I was known by that nickname. And that slip pitch, the newest addition to my collection of snake jazz, had a lot to do with it.
Ed Lopat was always experimenting, and every year he would add a new pitch to his rapidly expanding arsenal. I think that one time I did the math and came up with 72 pitches—it may have been more—well, this was the latest one, and it was lethal! It is a nice pitch. :slight_smile: