Good morning, jd!
It’s really funny how things can sneak up on you. I was a control pitcher all the way, without a fast ball to speak of, and I had been playing for a few years—well, here it was 1954, and my team was up at Van Cortlandt Park in the northwest Bronx to take on a team we hadn’t seen before. I was warming up before the game, being scheduled to start, and suddenly I wound up and threw a pitch that was a good deal faster than my other stuff. I tried it again, I crossfired it, I threw from the stretch—same thing, and I realized that whatever the pitch was it was not a fluke. My catcher noticed this and wanted to know if I wanted to try it in the game. I did, and much to my surprise I found that the opposing batters had no more luck with it than they had with my other stuff!
The next time I saw Ed Lopat I told him about this pitch, and next thing I knew he told me to throw it again, nine or ten times, because he wanted to time it. He did—and then he said to me, “I’ve got news for you. You have a fast ball!” He had timed it at 81 miles an hour, and he said that for a finesse pitcher such as I was this was a fast ball—a good four-seamer with a hop to it; it went out of the strike zone and the batters were unable to lay off, so they were missing it every time. He told me how I could use it, along with my other stuff, to set the batters up for my slider.
So—you never know… :o