[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]
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.