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Saturday, June 19, 2021

From the spitball to Spider Tack: A brief history of foreign substance use by pitchers in baseball

If Corridon was the author of the spitter, then Elmer Stricklett may have been its leading evangelist. The diminutive right-hander had a fairly middling big-league career across parts of four seasons with the White Sox and Brooklyn Superbas, but in the early 1900s he bent the arc of baseball history. Future Hall of Famer Jack Chesbro observed Stricklett throwing the spitter during a west coast barnstorming tour in the winter of 1902, and he was sufficiently titillated by the offering.

One of Stricklett’s teammates on the White Sox in the spring of 1904 was Ed Walsh, himself a future Hall of Fame moundsman. During that spring, Walsh encountered Stricklett once again. This time, he learned the finer points, and by that point Stricklett appeared to have refined his technique. Via “Baseball: The Biographical Encyclopedia”:

“He [Stricklett] told Walsh to spit between the seams of the baseball, grip it with his fingers between the seams, and throw it like a fastball. The resulting pitch had the speed of a fastball but no rotation, which caused it to break like a knuckleball.”

You can imagine the effectiveness of such a pitch, if harnessed and commanded. Think peak R.A. Dickey, who threw one of the hardest knucklers ever, plus perhaps a few mph.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 19, 2021 at 01:29 PM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: foreign substances

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Rough Carrigan Posted: June 19, 2021 at 04:10 PM (#6025173)
How could you not root for a team called the "Superbas"?
   2. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: June 20, 2021 at 12:46 AM (#6025308)
himself a future Hall of Fame moundsman.


Was the article written in 1902? I've not heard the term "moundsman" since I've been reading about baseball in the late 60's so not sure where that comes from.

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