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Thread: Did Pitchers of Yesteryear Throw With "Much Less" Velocity Than They Do Today?

  1. #221
    Of course the average pitchers speed has increased as the 100m times have improved over the time. esp. I think todays pitchers can maintain speed longer.
    But of course that doesn't mean all pitchers where really slow then, because velocity in throwing like 100m speed is more a talent then speed thing.
    100m runners 80 years ago didn't run 11.0(jesse owens ran 10.2) and of course not all pitchers did throw in the 80s.

    sure there where some guys who could top out in the low to even mid 90s although they might not have thrown it as consistently as todays pitchers who can maintain top speed for 5 or 6 innings.

  2. #222
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    You don't need to throw 100 mph to injure a human being.

  3. #223
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    "However, in the five years plus since I originally posted this thread, I still have yet to see a convincing or well-thought out argument for the above claim. My research has found, among other things, way too many caved in batter skulls, broken arms, smashed ribs, ended careers, and other maiming/mangling physical traumae at the blow of wayward(?) twirler pitches to accept the early 20th century moundsman-as-soft-tosser model."

    Here's the problem with this: do you recall Salomon Torres doing this...

    http://reds.enquirer.com/2003/04/21/wwwred3a21.html

    ...to Sammy Sosa's batting helmet? Well, Torres "only" threw that pitch at about 92 mph at release. And yet, he shattered Sosa's batting helmet. A collapsed skull (something roughly equivalent) doesn't need a fastball thrown at Zumaya/Dalkowski/Ryan/Randy Johnson velocity to collapse it. If you can shatter a pretty-flexible batting helmet with a 92 mph fastball, imagine what you can do to bones.

    "It's well-established by now that, for various reasons, nearly all existing film (not video--a mid-20th century innovation) records of early 20th century baseball athletes are of extremely limited value for making determinations about player physical skills."

    Usually. And if you mean try and extrapolate a speed from it, then forget it; you're totally right. But it does allow us to examine Johnson's pitching mechanics. He has no scapular load to speak of, does not have a particularly powerful arm action (NOT be be confused with arm speed), throws with a relatively stiff lower half, and his stride is almost non-existent. Therefore, we must take into account what things he DOES show. Relative to the rest of his mechanics, Johnson shows remarkable arm speed. He also shows very good (unusually good considering the time period) hip/shoulder seperation; that is to say, his hips are facing home plate far before his shoulders start to turn. He also has an aggressive follow-through. Although I have extreme difficulty buying something in the high 90's/low 100's from examining the biomechanical aspect of his delivery, I can bring myself to believe that if he had a very significant amount of "fast twitch" muscle fiber in his right arm, he could have been throwing in the low 90's.

    Further, Johnson's speed WAS likely accurately tested at about 92-93 mph. How could this be? Especially seeing as it was 1912? Well, I happen to be a bigtime firearms enthusiast as well as a baseball enthusiast. That's why I don't believe any of the lumiline chonograph readings can be taken seriously. But recall the story of Johnson's speed being tested at the Remington-Union Metallic Cartridge Company's Bridgeport line drop chronograph in 1912. That device was A) very accurate and B) could not be moved. Therefore, it was functioning under the conditions for which it was designed. And that's exactly the problem with the line-drop chronograph from a military logistics standpoint: it's immobile, too large to be practical, and while it can take effective measurements, it can't be moved from place to place. Johnson had warmed up, but reports vary as to whether he was pitching off a mound or not. Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and say he wasn't. Well, the Remington-UMC guys had set up the device to take measurements at 60 feet, but there was a problem: Johnson was a sidearmer and difficulty getting the ball through the shoulder-height measuring device (which was actually quite open, as Remington-UMC had designed it to measure anything up to 1 gauge punt shell loads [legal for "market hunting" at the time] from a gun with no choke at 50 yards; you're looking at something that had an opening several FEET wide). Therefore, for Johnson's pitching, the device was moved back to 75 feet. That may sound unbelievable, but it's actually not; though the device was initially placed at 60 feet away, it would have recorded the results of a pitch thrown at 45 feet. This is because the Remington-UMC line-drop chronograph was FIFTEEN FEET LONG and while the actual recorder was placed 60 feet away, it recorded speeds taken fifteen feet in front of it, to compensate for its gigantic size. This is well-documented based on firearms testing with the device and was well-known by 1912. Therefore, though almost certainly by chance, Johnson had the distinction of being the first pitcher measured at mound-to-home distance: 60 feet. His pitch speed registered at 122 feet per second; about 83.2 mph.

    Given that a fastball loses 9-10 mph on its way to the plate, we safely say Johnson's pitch, for better or for worse, would probably have been clocked at 91-93 mph. Say he has no mound, though. So let's give him an extra 2 mph (this is the absolute most liberal measurement I can figure with no mound; and he may even have had a mound). You're looking at someone who is now throwing at maximum 95 mph on a modern radar gun on a remarkably accurate device that was sadly overlooked in its potential usefulness at the time (Bob Turley, who was timed at 93.8 mph on a magnetic oscillograph at release point, was also almost certainly throwing what he would have registered on a radar gun).

    Interestingly, Johnson WAS supposedly measured on a West Point device 20 feet from his release point at 91.4 mph (which would give a similar speed; 93 mph). I know that West Point had a nearly identical device at the time, although supposedly, the historical details from that test don't seem to jive (it also had Christy Mathewson, who was completely worn out, and Smoky Joe Wood, who had injured his arm, as being timed), so that one must be either looked at with an enormous grain of salt or just discarded.

    But there was another pitcher...a roughly average pitcher in terms of speed at the time, who was often described as being above average, though never as a fireballer...who took the Remington-UMC test and was measured at 45 feet: Nap Rucker. With the device placed 60 feet away and thus recording Rucker's fastball at 45 feet, he got one in at 113 fps; about 77.1 mph. We can probably give him about 6 extra mph, possibly even 8 if we don't think he was pitching from a mound. This means Nap Rucker was recorded on a very accurate device at about 85 mph on a modern radar gun, at maximum. If that's above average in 1912, then no wonder Walter Johnson is blowing everyone away.

    Then there's this...

    "Of far better utility are any surviving records of skill competitions in which definite measurements were made; such as the throwing contest figures I listed (also in post #16). If simple math based on his recorded best tells you that Honus Wagner (a position player) could demonstrably break 90mph on a hypothetical gun, it's all but certain that Johnson (as well as the other top speedballers of the day) were exceeding this implied figure by quite a wide margin."

    Your throwing data is good, but you have to take into account the circumstances behind all of it; you can't just assume there was no wind and no running start or that Wagner was throwing from a crow hop. It's well known that Glen Gorbous took a running jump, was throwing into a 6 mph recorded wind, and had warmed up. He admitted to it. Wagner had also reportedly warmed up and was throwing into the wind from "a running start." But just what do we define as "a running start" and what as "into the wind?" Unfortunately, whatever that was, unlike the VERY precise data we have on Glen Gorbous, has been lost to history.

    Then there's this: until the mid 1920's to early 1930's, pitching mechanics can't really be described as "modern" or really capable of producing as much speed from a biomechanical standpoint in terms of the arm actions, strides, leg drives, and (to an admittedly much-lesser extent) even the hip/shoulder seperations. That's why you all of a sudden start seeing so many "unbelievable, never-before-seen-speed" type pitchers from around that era. Dizzy Dean, Dazzy Vance, Lefty Grove...all these guys threw with reasonably modern mechanics compared to the Dead Ballers and all were quickly proclaimed to be the fastest pitcher in baseball the moment they showed up.

    Personally, it's my belief that Bob Feller was probably the pre-WWII speed king (EDIT: or at least ONE OF the fastest pre-WWII; i.e. of the better-known guys). Why? Because in the (literally) dozens of rejected speeds he was recording on that chronograph before the "107 mph error," he was hitting somewhere in the high 80's. At 60'6". That translates into consistently throwing in the high 90's on a modern gun. Had he warmed up? Yes. Was he throwing off a mound? Yes. Was the chronograph mostly useless? Yes. But given that it had a 10-12 mph margin of error, Feller's 98.7 mph pitch was in actuality 86 mph at home plate AT WORST. That's about 95-96 mph on a modern radar gun, and that's the worst speed he could have recorded. To be honest, he was probably in the 98-100 mph range on a modern device.
    Last edited by Dalkowski110; 03-10-2010 at 09:45 PM.
    "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
    -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.

  4. #224
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiquitous
    You don't need to throw 100 mph to injure a human being.
    What's it like arguing with yourself?


    Quote Originally Posted by Dalkowski110 View Post
    Here's the problem with this: do you recall Salomon Torres doing this...

    http://reds.enquirer.com/2003/04/21/wwwred3a21.html

    ...to Sammy Sosa's batting helmet? Well, Torres "only" threw that pitch at about 92 mph at release. And yet, he shattered Sosa's batting helmet. A collapsed skull (something roughly equivalent) doesn't need a fastball thrown at Zumaya/Dalkowski/Ryan/Randy Johnson velocity to collapse it. If you can shatter a pretty-flexible batting helmet with a 92 mph fastball, imagine what you can do to bones.
    Actually, you contradict your own point regarding the assumed velocity of old-time pitchers in selecting the instance of a 92-mph recorded pitch.

    My beef is not with those whom--for whatever reason--claim that pitchers of a hundred years ago weren't quite as fast as today's equivalent specimen. Although I don't agree, and am confident that I have stated a persuasive argument as to why, it seems a reasonable presupposition in light of the groupthink that currently prevails regarding the assumed superiority of contemporary athletes. I do, however, quibble at the confidence and naivete of "high 70's/low 80's mph"--hardly more than batting practice speed--pronouncements as the likely threshold for hurlers of yore. The reasoning is so faulty and vulnerable to close scrutiny--bereft, as it is, of any actual or implied evidence--that I invariably shake my head at the scholarship void which gives asylum to such arrogance. (The argument invariably reminds me of the hypothetical which compares the size/stature of the average 21st century homo sapien with those of the early 19th; which is a difference of about six or more inches. Following from this model, human beings of the medieval period must have been midgets. [Wrong.])

    Nobody here has said nor implied that a "Zumaya/Dalkowski/Ryan/Randy Johnson"-level fastball is required to break batter bones. However, I think we can agree that few instances can be called to memory of crushed temples, shattered jaws, fractured wrists, broken ribs occuring during batting practice sessions of any description (where pitches, alas, still occasionally go awry). There has to be a model intersecting the conditions of real-life (where pitches must be at least fast enough to cause serious bodily hurt, while preventing the necessary reaction time for successful dodge) on which to try the supposition if anything is to be proven. If you have few pitchers from a hundred years ago breaching the "high 70's/low 80's" threshold, how is it that you have so many recorded instances of serious batter injury, or even death, even from the most obscure of twirlers? How is it that Carl Mays was able to drill Ty Cobb in the ribs hard enough to have grievously fractured two of them if he was (extrapolating for his submarine delivery) chucking them in the high 60's/low 70's? Could the anonymous Ray White of the Columbia University nine have beaned Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game with such force as to reach the press box on the rebound if his fast one was, at best, "high 70's/low 80's"? (Weigh these considerations in light of the fact that both of these instances pre-date the era of the confidently dug-in batter--bisecting these events was the infamous Ray Chapman beanball fatality.) At this point, one must inevitably resort to impugning the eyesight and tracking ability of yesterday's batter in order for the argument to retain any water, which merely exposes the agenda of its proponent.

    If you look at a history of serious, pitch-caused batter injury (such as that here on page 20: http://www.iihs.org/research/paper_pdfs/mf_0738.pdf), you'll find much the same description of trauma suffered, regardless of era. Unless we further wish to stretch this rubber band to intimate that players 100 years ago had more brittle bones than players today do, I think it's fair to conclude that pitches hurled from major league mounds have always been more or less commensurate in the speed and danger that they hold.


    But it does allow us to examine Johnson's pitching mechanics. He has no scapular load to speak of, does not have a particularly powerful arm action (NOT be be confused with arm speed), throws with a relatively stiff lower half, and his stride is almost non-existent. Therefore, we must take into account what things he DOES show. Relative to the rest of his mechanics, Johnson shows remarkable arm speed. He also shows very good (unusually good considering the time period) hip/shoulder seperation; that is to say, his hips are facing home plate far before his shoulders start to turn. He also has an aggressive follow-through. Although I have extreme difficulty buying something in the high 90's/low 100's from examining the biomechanical aspect of his delivery, I can bring myself to believe that if he had a very significant amount of "fast twitch" muscle fiber in his right arm, he could have been throwing in the low 90's...

    Then there's this: until the mid 1920's to early 1930's, pitching mechanics can't really be described as "modern" or really capable of producing as much speed from a biomechanical standpoint in terms of the arm actions, strides, leg drives, and (to an admittedly much-lesser extent) even the hip/shoulder seperations. That's why you all of a sudden start seeing so many "unbelievable, never-before-seen-speed" type pitchers from around that era. Dizzy Dean, Dazzy Vance, Lefty Grove...all these guys threw with reasonably modern mechanics compared to the Dead Ballers and all were quickly proclaimed to be the fastest pitcher in baseball the moment they showed up.
    OK, first of all, I have never heard this latter claim, that "all of a sudden" there appeared in the mid-20's/early 30's scene a plethora of "unbelievable, never-before-seen-speed" pitchers. EVERY era has trumpeted a parade of "fastest evers", from the Jim Creighton to the present day (most not amounting to much). In Johnson's day alone, there were pitching on various rosters Rube Waddell, Smoky Joe Wood, Pete Alexander, Nap Rucker, Dazzy Vance, Bill Hallahan, Louis Drucke, Grover Lowdermilk, Marty O'Toole, and more arms that were considered the ultimate in speed.

    Secondly, you again undermine your argument--here, in discussion of pitching mechanics--by bringing up Johnson, whom was considered in his time an outlier, a unique case in the matter of pitching mechanics. From professional top to bottom, Johnson always received an earful regarding the supposed "wrongness" of his mechanics (with an equal measure of stunned surprise that he was able to blaze them in just the same). Joe Wood, with his high leg kick and powerful, over-the-top motion (sound familiar?), was much more considered an object of standards and emulation. In point of fact, you are making the same mistake that certain authorities made in Johnson's day in assuming that speed is all mechanics; that there is only one universal, immutable, possible physical model to follow and adhere to. It is more than worth considering as an addendum that most authorities who saw Johnson, Grove, and Feller pitch during their prime years agreed that Johnson was the fastest of the three.

    Further, Johnson's speed WAS likely accurately tested at about 92-93 mph...

    [snip]
    The dubiousness of ballistics equipment testing is thoroughly demonstrated by citing the fact that Mark Koenig, Yankee shortstop (never known as one of the top guns at his position), was in 1930 put through this same test and measured at just a few feet per second slower than Johnson. On the other hand, the great Lou McEvoy, New York super-ace, was recorded at a mere 150 ft/sec.


    Your throwing data is good, but you have to take into account the circumstances behind all of it; you can't just assume there was no wind and no running start or that Wagner was throwing from a crow hop. It's well known that Glen Gorbous took a running jump, was throwing into a 6 mph recorded wind, and had warmed up. He admitted to it. Wagner had also reportedly warmed up and was throwing into the wind from "a running start." But just what do we define as "a running start" and what as "into the wind?" Unfortunately, whatever that was, unlike the VERY precise data we have on Glen Gorbous, has been lost to history.
    Adair uses the term "crop hop" to indicate a running start, so that factor has been accounted for. On the existence of wind-aided throws, these are every bit as probable as wind-aided tape-measure home runs. However, we also have Wagner's throw of 399 feet, made eight years after his 403 foot toss, to reinforce these figures. (Of course, it's very easy to claim that this, like all other Paleolithic long-tosses, was also wind-aided; just as home run distances were once aided by wavering gravity and player footspeed times abetted by downhill-in-every-direction baseball diamonds.)
    A swing--and a smash--and a gray streak partaking/Of ghostly manoeuvres that follow the whack;/The old earth rebounds with a quiver and quaking/And high flies the dust as he thuds on the track;/The atmosphere reels--and it isn't the comet--/There follows the blur of a phantom at play;/Then out from the reel comes the glitter of steel--/And damned be the fellow that gets in the way.                 A swing and a smash--and the far echoes quiver--/A ripping and rearing and volcanic roar;/And off streaks the Ghost with a shake and a shiver,/To hurdle red hell on the way to a score;/A cross between tidal wave, cyclone and earthquake--/Fire, wind and water all out on a lark;/Then out from the reel comes the glitter of steel,/Plus ten tons of dynamite hitched to a spark.

    --Cobb, Grantland Rice

  5. #225
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    What's it like arguing with yourself?


    Pleasant and not as rude.

    You made a statement about injuries and speed as if getting injured in those days happened because of pitch speeds that are comparable to nowadays. I disagree, because quite obviously you don't need someone to throw 95 mph to crush in a skull.

  6. #226
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    "The dubiousness of ballistics equipment testing is thoroughly demonstrated by citing the fact that Mark Koenig, Yankee shortstop (never known as one of the top guns at his position), was in 1930 put through this same test and measured at just a few feet per second slower than Johnson. On the other hand, the great Lou McEvoy, New York super-ace, was recorded at a mere 150 ft/sec."

    Umm, no it isn't. In fact, that argument has no merit at all (your only one that doesn't). It does not, because you presume that all factors are equal. Most ballistic devices of the time, when they had their innards moved, get thrown off, and pretty badly so. The military did not care if it had increased speed; they'd look good in terms of public relations (many have speculated Bob Feller's 98.6 mph pitch was in actuality measured at 88.6 with the Army tacking on 10 mph, although given the huge margin of error for the lumiline chronograph when used outside of its designed environment, I could believe 98.6 as a freakish outlier...but then, if the military really DID fudge an 88.6 pitch into a 98.6 pitch, I honestly wouldn't be surprised.). I've seen the West Point line-drop chronograph in photos, and I've also seen the Bridgeport, CT Remington-UMC line-drop chronograph from period photos. I should point out that the former device was dismantled and sold for scrap by West Point shortly after WWI (it was going to be reused at Picatinny Arsenal in NJ, but that facility was shut down); the device that may or may not have measured Johnson, Mathewson, and Wood was not the same device that measured McEvoy and Koenig. But not for the reasons you're thinking.

    The Army figured they'd be getting an improvement over the older line-drop device, since it was so ridiculously cumbersome. They were wrong. Instead, they got the predecessor of the photocell chronograph (similar to the lumiline device, but without the fore and aft lumiline screens). It was nice,new, and horribly inaccurate. In 1923, when a General Order was issued to replace the standard US Rifle Cartridge, the .30-06, with the experimental .276 Pedersen as part of the US Army's modernization of its battle rifle, the General Order actually STATES which chronographs were accurate enough to measure the velocity of the roughly ten different experimental .276 Pedersen loads for ballistic data. Take a flying guess whose shiny new chronograph did NOT pass muster. Since Remington-UMC was a private company, they were not listed (Frankford Arsenal and Springfield Arsenal had the two devices where most of the testing was conducted). But they were also the only civilian manufacturer of .276 Pedersen ammunition, and I should point out their ballistics were so dead on that Great Britain ordered their ammunition from Remington-UMC. They had not yet replaced their line-drop chronograph. While I know the point is irrelevant, I should also point out that in 1932, we went right back to the .30-06, basically developing the .276 Pedersen for no reason.

    Basically, before WWII, you actually have to know the exact device to ascertain accuracy of measurement. I happen to know that in many but not all cases (for example, I'm not sure when West Point replaced the device that recorded McEvoy and Koenig's throws), and making a blanket statement that EVERY SINGLE BALLISTIC MEASUREMENT DEVICE was badly off is patently absurd.

    "I do, however, quibble at the confidence and naivete of "high 70's/low 80's mph"--hardly more than batting practice speed--pronouncements as the likely threshold for hurlers of yore."

    Actually, I had so little confidence about the "high 70's" part that, if you looked back, I took Nap Rucker and gave him 85 mph. So we'll put league average in the low 80's. You do win there...slightly. However, more importantly, there's a lot more movement on those pitches than a BP fastball. If you don't think the spin on a pitch has an effect upon impacting something, think again.

    "where pitches, alas, still occasionally go awry"

    Awry? Yes. Thrown full tilt, but more importantly trying to get the hitter out, and with movement? Mind giving me some examples of BP thrown that way? Also, blows often depend on how the ball is spinning. Say a pitch thrown by an imaginary pitcher from no particular age glances off the side of a batter's head released at 101 mph. Now say that another pitch travelling inward from a different imaginary pitcher thrown with a ton of movement slams into a guy's temple released at 88 mph. Which of those pitches is more likely to kill someone? And don't forget the admitted handful of horror stories of Little League batters being killed. How fast do you think their pitches are going?

    "extrapolating for his submarine delivery"

    Wrong. The irony is, the submarine pitcher's mechanics have changed extremely little, if at all, since the days of Carl Mays. He could've very well thrown in the mid to high 80's. And you yourself knock him down to the high 60's/low 70's mph for sarcasm's sake, so I'm presuming that you think he probably threw in the high 80's or perhaps low 90's. Let's look at that for a minute: if you yourself are presuming that, and this guy CRUSHED A MAN'S SKULL, maybe there's a lot less force applied then you think need be?

    "Could the anonymous Ray White of the Columbia University nine have beaned Lou Gehrig in an exhibition game with such force as to reach the press box on the rebound if his fast one was, at best, "high 70's/low 80's"?"

    No, but you may be giving White far too little credit. Surely you'll concede that at that time, playing baseball really well did not mean you went into it as a career, especially for a college man. It could have been that White A) wasn't interested in baseball as a career, B) threw a straight-as-an-arrow fastball pretty hard with not very much movement (ever notice that not too many of these type guys turn up in the Majors at that time?), or C) both A and B.

    "OK, first of all, I have never heard this latter claim"

    Read some more Bill James and Rob Neyer.

    "(sound familiar?)"

    Sound? Maybe from the way you describe it. But Smoky Joe Wood did something of that era that most pitchers did not: he utilized in his mechanics a form of scapular load. This was, of course, totally ignored due to the lack of video, but it is present in footage of him. Wood got his speed from bending his elbow more than anyone else of his era, not from kicking high and going straight over the top as was assumed by looking at him with the naked eye and relatively primitive medical technology of the era (remember, this is the era when most of the intelligensia believe a curveball doesn't even curve)...

    "It is more than worth considering as an addendum that most authorities who saw Johnson, Grove, and Feller pitch during their prime years agreed that Johnson was the fastest of the three."

    Right. Because the 1870's guys all said George Zettlein was the fastest. Sometimes Joe Blong. And all the 1880's guys said Charlie Sweeney was the fastest. And then Amos Rusie in the 1890's. Cy Young in the 1900's. Johnson (and Smoky Joe Wood, from about 1910-1915) from the 1910's-mid-1920's. However, take someone with a relatively long career that faced Johnson a year or so after WWI and then faced Lefty Grove when he first came up. I'd be more interested in what these guys that bridged careers say.

    "Adair uses the term 'crow hop' to indicate a running start, so that factor has been accounted for."

    What about if Wagner rotated his hips out in front of his shoulders and then hyperabducted his elbow to make the throw? With no crow hop, you can gain serious velocity by merely doing that. I know he did the latter, but am genuinely unsure as to the former (although it often facilitates the former). And yes, watch some ballplayers today (especially outfielders). There are a few (not many) who use these throwing mechanics. Since Wagner's arm at short was legendary any way you look at it and there were no coaches to tell one the "right way" to throw in the infield, my guess is he had good throwing mechanics.

    "Of course, it's very easy to claim that this, like all other Paleolithic long-tosses, was also wind-aided; just as home run distances were once aided by wavering gravity and player footspeed times abetted by downhill-in-every-direction baseball diamonds."

    "Pleasant and not as rude."

    I'll agree with Ubi on this one. I'm here for civil debate. You can lose the attitude and the sarcasm. And incidentally...

    "The argument invariably reminds me of the hypothetical which compares the size/stature of the average 21st century homo sapien with those of the early 19th; which is a difference of about six or more inches. Following from this model, human beings of the medieval period must have been midgets. [Wrong.]"

    Although I agree with you that 6 or more inches IS absurd, I will say that there was A height difference of a few inches, possibly as many as three; considering the average levels of nutrition, there literally could not have been. I mean, that IS the height difference in North Korea and South Korea, for two genetically identical sets of people on radically different diets.
    "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
    -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.

  7. #227
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Burgess View Post
    [...]
    When Feller came along in '37, he electrified the BB world, with his 98.5 mph velocity. So that was the top rate for the BB world at the time.

    Today, so many pitchers register over 98 on the radar gun, that I stopped counting. Rod Dibble, JR Richards were both over 100. Didn't create a stir then. But it would have in 1940. So that is one way to measure velocity by era. Today, I suspect that Clemens, Johnson, Martinez, Rivera, and lots of others could go over 100 perhaps several times a game.

    If that were possible in 1938, they would have created the same stir as Feller did in '38.

    Bill Burgess


    A couple of comments about the famous 98.6 for Feller. First, I'm not sure how that measurement was taken and whether it demanded any accommodations-to-the-instruments on Feller's part. I THINK I read, once, that the measurement was made just after WW 2, and it would be interesting to know how the accuracy of that measurement might stand up to what is achieved using contemporary instruments. Second, IF the 98.6 were obtained post-war, then, in 1936, when Feller was 18 and "electrifying" observers with his speed, it's not out of the question that he might have been reaching 100.

    As to whether a "stir" would have been created by exceptional speeds, back in 1940, I'm not so sure. We're measurement crazy now, and the very existence of the instruments and the routine-ness of their use get crowds oooohing and ahhhhing and looking for more. In 1940, no speed guns, no expectations, no oohs, no ahhs.

  8. #228
    Quote Originally Posted by Death to Crawling Things View Post
    My take is there have been guys around that could put it in 95+ (maybe Walter Johnson was the first, maybe even Amos Rusie, whatever).


    But, what I beleive is that there were probably less % of pitchers who could put above 90 overall. ANd today you'd never see a guy in the majors who cant throw 80 except maybe a knucleballer. Whereas back then you probably did like Stu Miller and Eddie Lopat and Dave LaPoint.


    It probably doesnt matter.
    Ahhh, if only the Yankees of today could have another Eddie Lopat! Look up, some time, what Ted Williams had to say about him. I saw this attributed to Lopat once: "Take four pitches - the fast ball, the curve, the slider and the screwball. Now throw these at different speeds and you have 12 pitches. Next, throw each of these 12 pitches with a long-armed or short-armed motion, and you have 24 pitches." If I'm not mistaken, Williams may have hired him as pitching coach. You don't need to impress a radar gun in order to have a memorable big league career on the mound.
    Last edited by thaa; 03-12-2010 at 03:07 PM.

  9. #229
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    "A couple of comments about the famous 98.6 for Feller. First, I'm not sure how that measurement was taken and whether it demanded any accommodations-to-the-instruments on Feller's part. I THINK I read, once, that the measurement was made just after WW 2, and it would be interesting to know how the accuracy of that measurement might stand up to what is achieved using contemporary instruments. Second, IF the 98.6 were obtained post-war, then, in 1936, when Feller was 18 and "electrifying" observers with his speed, it's not out of the question that he might have been reaching 100."

    Feller's pitch was measured on a lumiline chronograph, the successor to the photocell chronograph. When used properly and in an almost completely-sterile environment, it was dead on. Problem was, if you take a look at the film (go to youtube and type in "Bob Feller pitch speed"), the machine is not used as it was designed to be. It's right out there on a baseball field, which is far from sterile. As I said, such tiny things as insects, cloud conditions, the wind, and even possibly the sun could have thrown off the reading (inflating it) by as much as 10-12 mph. Also bear in mind that most pitches, when we think of pitch speed taken on a radar gun, are measured either at release or 10 feet away (there's really not much difference). A baseball loses 9-10 mph from that point to the hand, so we'd have to assume Feller's pitch was recorded travelling at 107 mph. But considering the frames from his hand to the plate visible in the film, there's simply no way he's throwing that hard. MANY who batted against Feller before his back injury (which, as Feller himself claims, was what cost him his speed, not WWII...he was allowed to stay in shape by running around the decking on the USS Alabama...) doubt this figure when compared to other pitchers they either went on to face or had faced earlier. Also, Feller's pitch was an extreme outlier. Most of his pitches in that session were coming in at the high 80's at home plate...which is to say, the high 90's on a modern radar gun. The Army never averaged out Feller's speed...they just picked the outlier that he didn't even approach with any other pitch thrown. I will say this and doubt anyone will disagree with me...in any era, any league, any pitcher, there is simply no way a guy can, at random, add 7-8 mph onto his fastball when he's reaching back for a little extra.

    But the potential margin of error for the lumiline chronograph is about 10-12 mph added on. We know Feller had warmed up, was not tired, was throwing off a mound in full uniform, and was getting it through the lumiline screens consistently. So, how fast WAS he throwing? Well, if we give that 98.6 mph pitch the full 12 mph knocked off, it goes through the device at 86.6 mph. That's about 96 mph at home plate. Considering he was consistently hitting the high 80's outside of that, I honestly do wonder if he wasn't averaging what would be about the consistent high 90's in mph on a modern radar gun (which is certainly nothing to sniffle at). Could he have hit triple digits in his career as we interpret it on a modern radar gun? I believe so. His mechanics are highly conducive to it.
    Last edited by Dalkowski110; 03-12-2010 at 04:02 PM.
    "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
    -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.

  10. #230
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    According to an article in the Washington Post on the day after Feller had his speed measured, he was originally scheduled to throw three pitches into the lumiline chronograph prior to the game. He wound up throwing two extra pitches for a total of five tosses. On his fifth throw he actually splintered the wood box as you can see on the youtube clip. Given that he only threw five pitches I actually would expect that there may be high variability in his speed since he may have thrown at a slower pace to get his bearing on the first couple pitches. The test involved accuracy as well as speed.

    Feller had his pitches measured on two other occasions. In 1939 he threw a ball into a speed meter device developed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer at 81.1 MPH (119 FPS). According to an article at the time Feller "lobbed the ball" into the machine. Four players were measured at 94.7 MPH (139 FPS) throughout the course of the year - Atley Donald, Rudy York, Ralph Kress and Roy Cullenbine. When Feller threw 98.6 in 1946, he was credited with breaking "Atley Donald's record" even though three other players held the record with Donald. Apparently Koenig's earlier attempt was not recognized or commonly known.

    Feller had his pitch timed against a motorcycle traveling at 88 MPH in 1940. I have a copy of that video and Feller beats the motorcycle easily. His pitch was calculated around 104 MPH based on how much he beat the motorcycle.

    Johnson was measured in his street clothes. He took his hat and sport jacket off before he tossed the ball into the machine. His warm-up consisted of playing catch with Nap Rucker before they both made their attempts. The kicker is that neither of them had gloves so they were not tossing the ball very hard to each other to get warmed up. The articles at the time express the belief that they could both throw much harder than the times they put up and they also express reservation about the accuracy of the test due to the fact that the device was not intended to measure a baseball. It took each pitcher several attempts to even record a time since they had to trip the fine copper wires in order to get a reading. 83 MPH plate speed is about 8-10 MPH slower than the fastest plate times recorded in 2009. Assuming that the device was fairly accurate (which is a guess), I think it is very likely that Johnson could have been throwing as hard as anyone today if he was on a mound, in uniform, warmed up in game conditions.

    I have searched long and hard and I find no contemporaneous evidence that Johnson was measured at any other time. I contacted his Grandson Henry Thomas and he also said that he found no evidence of another attempt to measure his speed. I found an article in the 40's that claimed that Johnson had his speed measured using a Pathe camera at 103.3MPH in 1923 but I cannot locate an article backing it up.

    Prior to the invention of radar guns in the 1970's most of the historical attempts to measure the speed of pitchers is roughly the equivalent of having your speed measured at a carnival. In most cases the pitcher is throwing on a flat surface and only had a few pitches measured. So out of the thousands of pitches that they threw we have a recording of just a handlful of pitches into a variety of devices and at different distances. Contrast that to modern times - since the early 80's virtually every pitch thrown in a major league game has been recorded.

    What would be an interesting experiment is to build a replica of those old-time devices and see how accurate they are compared to a modern device. My guess is that none of them are still in existence.
    Last edited by Bench 5; 03-13-2010 at 10:52 PM.
    "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

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    Fastest Pitches of 2008 and 2009 per efastball.com

    According to efastball.com here are the fastest pitches of 2008 and 2009:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

    Rogers Hornsby, 1961

  12. #232
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    Fastest Pitches of all Time per efastball.com

    This list is not a comprehensive list but it is still very interesting. I remember some pitchers in the 80's who were clocked on radar in the 100-103 range such as Lee Smith, Doc Gooden, Jim Kern etc.

    They attempt to make the comparisons on an "apples to apples" basis by using the measurement from the pitcher's hand as the baseline.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

    Rogers Hornsby, 1961

  13. #233
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    "My guess is that none of them are still in existence."

    The Army still has chronographs 100% identical to those used in the Feller test. You can find them at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds Museum. If I had to guess, you could get one up and running in hurry if you wanted to. Unfortunately, as to the Remington-UMC line-drop chronograph, it was replaced in the 1950's. The West Point device from after WWI was unceremoniously trashed because it was a complete and useless piece of junk.

    "that the device was not intended to measure a baseball."

    Correct, but one of Remington-UMC's boasts (and the reason Johnson was tested at that particular facility) was that their device could measure anything. Could it? Probably...many arrowsmiths actually tested their arrows on the device.

    "It took each pitcher several attempts to even record a time since they had to trip the fine copper wires in order to get a reading."

    Sort of. What actually "tripped" the device was hitting a steel plate. If they experienced problems with copper wires, which were not used in the function of anything other than the actual calculation device, that would indicate they had electrical problems and probably had to re-set the device.

    "According to an article in the Washington Post on the day after Feller had his speed measured, he was originally scheduled to throw three pitches into the lumiline chronograph prior to the game. He wound up throwing two extra pitches for a total of five tosses. On his fifth throw he actually splintered the wood box as you can see on the youtube clip. Given that he only threw five pitched I actually would expect that there may be high variability in his speed since he may have thrown at a slower pace to get his bearing on the first couple pitches."

    Sort of. According to both Feller and the Army, he had a "rehearsal" session a few days prior where threw on order of 25+ pitches. The device...the exact device he was pitching into that you see on youtube...was registering all over the place, but generally in the high 80's and low 90's near the end (yes, he was throwing off a mound...). The Army basically wanted to see if Feller could record a speed and keep within the device, plus calibrate it so they wouldn't be registering speeds that were 30-40 mph off either way. Feller never spoke about the speeds taken at this test until recently, when he claimed to have hit 121 mph (which is absurd, but it does lend credence to the "rehearsal" happening when the Army said it happened...ironically, I actually COULD see a pitch registering at 121 mph on a completely-uncalibrated device that was probably going more along the lines of about 90 mph.).

    "The test involved accuracy as well as speed. "

    With a 10-12 mph margin of error under the circumstances at which it was functioning, I just don't buy it.

    "a speed meter device developed by the Cleveland Plain Dealer"

    I've often wondered about how this device was constructed. To date, nothing about its construction has surfaced. Any ideas? If I had to guess, judging from descriptions about "electric eyes" floating around at the time, it may have been a variant of the photocell chronograph. I doubt it was accurate at all.

    "Feller had his pitch timed against a motorcycle traveling at 88 MPH in 1940. I have a copy of that video and Feller beats the motorcycle easily. His pitch was calculated around 104 MPH based on how much he beat the motorcycle."

    This was a favorite with many pitchers of Feller's day and kept being used well into the 1950's in Minor League promotions. Unfortunately, due to its highly unscientific nature (because of the motorcycle's tires and not running on completely 100% flat ground, it literally can't be travelling in a completely straight line), I suggest the results of any such test be tossed out.

    "Assuming that the device was fairly accurate (which is a guess), I think it is very likely that Johnson could have been throwing as hard as anyone today if he was on a mound, in uniform, warmed up in game conditions."

    I wouldn't completely disagree there. I've been researching heavily and as I said, Johnson probably had a huge amount of "fast twitch" muscle fiber in his right arm (his left arm too, actually). I wouldn't be surprised if he managed to get it into the mid 90's, possibly even high 90's now and then, on a modern radar gun. To be honest, since there's nothing we can measure Johnson's arm speed against except, well, himself due to the quality of film, the mid 90's with an occassional hit in the high 90's is a guess. However, I still think league average was somewhere in the low to mid 80's. The reason I say this is because I've interviewed enough ballplayers from the 1950's and early 1960's who have actually said "pitchers on the whole were slower simply because control was so highly valued, which is why you get the ridiculous 'Steve Dalkowski threw 120 mph' guesses, because he looked like it compared with the other guys." I'm NOT directing this at you, Bench 5, but the speed of the league average from the Dead Ball Era did not skyrocket, drop with the advent of modern mechanics in the 1920's/1930's or after WWII, and then suddenly climb right back up in the mid 1960's. That's out and out absurd to assume so.

    "Johnson was measured in his street clothes. He took his hat and sport jacket off before he tossed the ball into the machine. His warm-up consisted of playing catch with Nap Rucker before they both made their attempts."

    Did not know this, thanks.

    "In most cases the pitcher is throwing on a flat surface and only had a few pitches measured."

    I can say this: Feller had the benefit of a mound. As for how much difference a mound makes, to be honest, my guess is 1-2 mph.

    "I found an article in the 40's that claimed that Johnson had his speed measured using a Pathe camera at 103.3MPH in 1923 but I cannot locate an article backing it up."

    Very interesting, but let's consider this: let's look at all the abortive and/or fabricated attempts to measure Steve Dalkowski's pitch speed. The most well-known speed cited, 96.8 mph, is a complete fabrication. In three tests, all using a lumiline chronograph, 93.4 mph was reached once in 1959 as were 88.1 in 1958 and 85.6 in 1960. One other test was conducted; one in which Steve failed to get a single pitch through the machine (1958, before the season). But other speeds, like 98.7, 108.2, 110 on airport radar or a radar machine that Earl Weaver purchased, and 98.6 (Feller's speed) into a wind-measuring device are out-and-out fabrications. I've also seen 94.3 mph, but my guess is someone just confused that with Steve's recorded speed of 93.4 mph.

    "According to efastball.com"

    I don't trust them for Ryan, Feller, or Steve. Like I said, Rockwell International fudged their distance with Ryan (or, rather, had it fudged for them by the press). Still very interesting to see the other guys, though, since you can at the very least compare them.
    Last edited by Dalkowski110; 03-13-2010 at 11:39 PM.
    "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
    -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.

  14. #234
    I'm late to this party and sorry I missed all the fun that went before. I am an old-timer, so much of what I say is oral history passed on to me by my father [who was offered a contract by the Cubs @ 1919; his brother, who was a bullpen catcher for Cincinatti; my grandfather, who caught for an Oriole-affiliated clubs in the 1880s; and my own observations, starting just before WW II.

    -Dad traced the flamethrower family tree from Walter Johnson to Smoky Joe Wood to Bob Feller to Tommy Byrne ........ that would cover much of the 1910s through WW II, with Feller being clocked before WW II. Tommy Byrne, given to fits of wildness, had Dad describing Byrne on his ON days, as "throwing aspirin tablets passed the batters." This was at the MLB level; but my father and his brother both added, "You can't leave out Satchel Paige when he wasn't throwing 'other stuff.'"

    In this model, Feller was generally "granted" a 100 mph with nothing to back it up scientifically but eyesight and emotion. He was teated in a wind tunnel @ 103and allegedly radar had him at 98.6 after WW II. So a young prime Feller @ 100 seems easily believable. Old-timers had a hard time with Feller and Johnson comparisons, generally believing Johnson to be a bit faster, as allegedly was Smoky Joe Wood. Point is, yes - older guys could bring it.

    Part of the thread title seems to leave the door open to explaining why pitching speeds might generally have been slower during the deadball era:

    1. The ball iself often lasted well into the earlier games [I don't really consider the game before 1901. This is not a put-down on MLB before then. To me, it was just a differnt sport. This took a dead ball and made it even deader, smudged, scuffed, and cut:

    a. Why throw hard when you can use cuts, scrapes, dings and discoloration to throw breaking stuff [often wicked ball movement]?

    b. Why exert yourself when spit, emory, slippery elm and other substances [like Vaseline] can make an easily delivered ball play tricks on the hitter?

    c. If you've got 90+ mph in your arsenal, why not set up hitters with stuff - then blow one by them as a change-of-pace. This, in some was, refelects the strategies of "pitching to the score;" "pitching to the count;" and pacing. It wasn't laziness. It was strategy.

    d. My uncle, you can believe this or not - but i';s true, saw me pitch. Happily, he liked what he saw. His phisosophy of pitching:

    ... deliver the ball for every pitch with the same motion, so as not to "telegraph" what's coming;

    ... allow your fingers to favor a particular "spin" to the ball, without cranking the mechanics to make it break. Physics will move the ball.

    ... don't choke the baseball with your grip on it. Ntice how a lighter grip encourages the ball to "float" [move] as it travels.

    ... aplly all the above [that focus on comfort and ease] with the one necessary skill: the ability to control where the ball will cross the batter's contact zone.

    [At the time, it sounded to me like a guy willing to be shelled. Now that I am older, this is probably the best approached to getting a kid young enough to learn how to pitch first.

    There have been lots of tables presented here; but to really be on the same page, I'd suggest we agree on the best available tests, given modern measurement technology:

    -the Doppler push effect at instant of release, realizing a drop-off from that speed recording of 8-12 mph by the time the ball gets into the batter's contact zone.

    -taking into consideration that no such test was available in Johnson's, Feller's or Grove's time[s], but that the mound was several inches higher before 1968.

    Then, we can allow some credibility to oral history and make the comps from that understanding.

    Great thread.

  15. #235
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    "with Feller being clocked before WW II."

    To this day, I've been unable to find any record of Feller's windtunnel test. For his fastball, anyway. I know that pitchers often used this test to see how much their curveball curved (as Ken Raffensberger did so famously with the aeronautical great/helicopter pioneer/genius in general Igor Sikorsky in attendance and proclaiming that a curveball did in fact curve...it was actually an excellent, extremely accurate form of testing for movement) and have often wondered if Feller took a shot at seeing just how much spin his curve had, then having people mix it up with the horribly innaccurate "speed meter" test that occured around the same time.

    "Tommy Byrne"

    Funny you should mention Tommy Byrne. He once concluded that two pitchers he'd seen were faster than himself: Steve Dalkowski and Herb Score. He believed that both Ryne Duren and he threw at the same velocity.

    "Old-timers had a hard time with Feller and Johnson comparisons, generally believing Johnson to be a bit faster, as allegedly was Smoky Joe Wood. Point is, yes - older guys could bring it."

    Johnson and Wood? Yes. But the league average? I doubt it was all that fast. Also, recall that most of the guys that saw Johnson and Wood that commented on Feller never faced Feller. Many of those that faced Lefty Grove (a pitcher throwing with a modern pitching motion), on the other hand, concluded Grove was faster than Johnson. Of course, the Johnson defenders said they were too young or some such thing. I sincerely believe Feller>Grove>Johnson in terms of speed. One of the truly remarkable things about Steve Dalkowski was just how many of the people that faced him pre-injury also faced guys like Ryne Duren, Nolan Ryan, Bob Turley, Dick Radatz, Herb Score, Sandy Koufax, etc. while they were still throwing really hard or had just come up and were throwing really hard as well as the guys his managers faced (with Billy DeMars probably being the most prominent of those). I don't think you really have that at all, unfortunately, with Joe Wood, but you do have it at some level with Walter Johnson vs. Lefty Grove and Bob Feller vs. Bob Turley or Herb Score.

    "If you've got 90+ mph in your arsenal, why not set up hitters with stuff - then blow one by them as a change-of-pace. This, in some was, refelects the strategies of "pitching to the score;" "pitching to the count;" and pacing. It wasn't laziness. It was strategy."

    Never implied it was laziness. To a certain degree, I think it was strategy, combined with less advanced pitching deliveries. If you think of it, the first really modern guys start coming in dribs and drabs in the early to mid 1920's. That coincides with the end of the Deadball Era/end of the Ball-Doctoring Era. It takes about a decade for pitchers to completely up their league average to what it was at the very least post-WWII. I think guys started taking a look at what could make them either faster or more confusing regarding pitching deliveries (ever notice you start seeing a lot of crazy deliveries in the 1920's?).

    "the Doppler push effect at instant of release, realizing a drop-off from that speed recording of 8-12 mph by the time the ball gets into the batter's contact zone."

    I'd say it's more like 9-10 mph, but we're in basic agreement. You can also extrapolate some of the 60'6" readings taken on lumiline chronographs this way during the 1950's, and usually find some rather strange results.

    "-taking into consideration that no such test was available in Johnson's, Feller's or Grove's time[s], but that the mound was several inches higher before 1968."

    Believe it or not, I don't think this had the kind of effect on speed that it's cracked up to have been. Look at when pitchers throw in Dodger Stadium vs. pretty much any other ballpark. The difference isn't really that severe; maybe 1 or 1.5 mph added on at most. Now if you want to talk about effects on pitch movement, I think we're talking about a much more significant thing.

    "Then, we can allow some credibility to oral history and make the comps from that understanding."

    Also "bridge guys." That is to say the few batters who faced multiple guys who threw really hard/are proclaimed the fastest ever in their primes. I'd like to see more of this. When someone tells me "Steve Dalkowski threw much harder than Joel Zumaya," I really can't conclude much from it other than my own extrapolations, which agree, but there's no firsthand experience. On the other hand, when you get someone who has caught Steve Dalkowski at full tilt and both batted against and caught Nolan Ryan at full tilt saying Steve was faster (Andy Etchebarren) or someone who faced Steve Dalkowski and Sudden Sam McDowell in consecutive years, that's something where you have to put a lot more stock into it.
    "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
    -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.

  16. #236
    Quote Originally Posted by Dalkowski110 View Post
    "with Feller being clocked before WW II."

    To this day, I've been unable to find any record of Feller's windtunnel test. For his fastball, anyway. I know that pitchers often used this test to see how much their curveball curved (as Ken Raffensberger did so famously with the aeronautical great/helicopter pioneer/genius in general Igor Sikorsky in attendance and proclaiming that a curveball did in fact curve...it was actually an excellent, extremely accurate form of testing for movement) and have often wondered if Feller took a shot at seeing just how much spin his curve had, then having people mix it up with the horribly innaccurate "speed meter" test that occured around the same time.
    Over my lifetime [born in the 1930s] I have read clockings for Bob Feller @ 103; 101.6; 100 flat and 98.6. I every instance the variables were huge: equipment used, testing site and conditions, and the velocity control element. He was fast.


    Funny you should mention Tommy Byrne. He once concluded that two pitchers he'd seen were faster than himself: Steve Dalkowski and Herb Score. He believed that both Ryne Duren and he threw at the same velocity.
    Score is a tragic example of brilliant talent cut short. Duren we can appreciate because, despite a short career, he was a reliever with lots of appearances and a reputation that preceeded him for those examining his velocity. He was under a microscope.

    Steve Dalkowski has become a household word for pitching velocity, a unique niche I would never take away from him. However, in the context of earning your bread and butter at the MLB level of competition, with some relevant statistical basis for arriving at a qualifying performance level, Dalkowski must become just that - an external model /device for arriving at comp standards.

    [quote]"If you've got 90+ mph in your arsenal, why not set up hitters with stuff - then blow one by them as a change-of-pace. This, in some was, refelects the strategies of "pitching to the score;" "pitching to the count;" and pacing. It wasn't laziness. It was strategy."


    Also "bridge guys." That is to say the few batters who faced multiple guys who threw really hard/are proclaimed the fastest ever in their primes. I'd like to see more of this. When someone tells me "Steve Dalkowski threw much harder than Joel Zumaya," I really can't conclude much from it other than my own extrapolations, which agree, but there's no firsthand experience. On the other hand, when you get someone who has caught Steve Dalkowski at full tilt and both batted against and caught Nolan Ryan at full tilt saying Steve was faster (Andy Etchebarren) or someone who faced Steve Dalkowski and Sudden Sam McDowell in consecutive years, that's something where you have to put a lot more stock into it.
    This raises a few questions which I believe are legitimate:

    1. Human nature loves to participate in the making of mythology. This is not to call "bridge batters" liars; but it does suggest that the mere fact of having faced Dalkowski makes them part of the legend.

    2. Being part of a legend, by extension, attracts attention to the non-legend player, who emotionally [in the eyes of the awed] demands credibility. The extension of the legend becomes expert in the technological facts defining the legend.

    3. Steve Dalkowski threw hard; and, if healthy, might have thrown a baseball through a solid brick wall. However, he rises to the status of myth because of the tragedy f injury. His documented appearances are rare; and the rarity adds fuel to the elusive magnitude of his velocity.

    4. Mere mortals, like Nolan Ryan, may face a batter [a "bridge batter"] on an off day; at an advanced age; on a day when the curve or slider is biting and the fastball is sailing .... BUT he is held to a standard no mortal can attain.

    Joel Zumaya has been clocked @ 104 mph at point of release, and several times between 101 and 104, which statisticians refer to as 10 standard deviations above the norm.For all intents and purposes, a burned-out Zumaya has one place to go after the flame is gone .... into the realm of myth.

    However, too many of us have actually seen Zumaya; so his chances of reachin mythological proportion[s] are very nearly shot. To get there, you need a degree of invisibility and absence from the game.

    This is not intended to mock or cheapen Dalkowski, just to suggest that so long as we have him as a standard, no MLB ever will completely satisfy examiners of their greatness.

  17. #237
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    "Over my lifetime [born in the 1930s] I have read clockings for Bob Feller @ 103; 101.6; 100 flat and 98.6. I every instance the variables were huge: equipment used, testing site and conditions, and the velocity control element. He was fast."

    103 was the motorcycle test, so that can be discarded. 101.6 is something Feller claimed he hit early on after throwing the 98.6 mph pitch, but it later turned out to have been the same pitch (which he now claims was going 107 mph), 100 flat I've never been able to find the source for, and 98.6 was of course the lumiline chronograph. Not as consistent or accurate as you might think. But I will agree he was fast.

    "Duren we can appreciate because, despite a short career, he was a reliever with lots of appearances and a reputation that preceeded him for those examining his velocity. He was under a microscope."

    In a way, if you think of it, he was the Joel Zumaya of his time.

    "1. Human nature loves to participate in the making of mythology. This is not to call "bridge batters" liars; but it does suggest that the mere fact of having faced Dalkowski makes them part of the legend."

    Which is why I use the example of Etchebarren in particular. He didn't like Steve particularly much and was a good friend of Ryan's. If anything, wouldn't he have wanted to participate in Ryan's legend and not Dalkowski's?

    Billy DeMars is another guy not exactly crazy about Steve (if you want some details, PM me). Yet, he believes that Steve was the fastest he ever saw and probably the fastest ever.

    "2. Being part of a legend, by extension, attracts attention to the non-legend player, who emotionally [in the eyes of the awed] demands credibility. The extension of the legend becomes expert in the technological facts defining the legend."

    Actually, none of the guys independently analyzing the stills and (very soon) the film I have of Steve ever batted against him and are quite determined to be unbiased. In fact, one of my analysts set out to prove he was NOT the fastest and came away believing he was.

    "4. Mere mortals, like Nolan Ryan, may face a batter [a "bridge batter"] on an off day; at an advanced age; on a day when the curve or slider is biting and the fastball is sailing .... BUT he is held to a standard no mortal can attain."

    Actually, you have multiple examples of guys that faced Steve in 1962 (especially) and Ryan in 1966 or 1967. Hardly an off day at an advanced age. In fact, Ryan was pretty much raring back and firing as hard as he could at the time and most will say that Ryan was probably throwing his hardest during that time/his early tenure with the Mets.

    "This is not intended to mock or cheapen Dalkowski, just to suggest that so long as we have him as a standard, no MLB ever will completely satisfy examiners of their greatness."

    Don't be too sure. I and severeal other guys that actually batted against Steve Dalkowski are convinced that if his motion were smoother, Aroldis Chapman may approach/equal the kind of velocity Steve had. Zumaya has the mechanics, but not the range of motion in his wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints (something Steve had plenty extra of for his scapular load) to probably even surpass Steve Dalkowski. If he had a greater range of motion in wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints by about 10%-15%, he would be throwing as hard as Steve was. I am convinced of that.

    Also, recall that during his career from 1957-1961, when Paul Richards was promising everyone left and right that Steve would make the Majors easily, you had the same kind of talk going on. In 1962, when he gained control and had a 53 inning scoreless streak, the AP and UPI were following him around. That's hardly in the realm of "myth that a few people saw." He HAD been seen, was not invisible, and was not absent. He was right there and would gladly pitch for any journalist that wanted to see his fastball.

    "Dalkowski must become just that - an external model /device for arriving at comp standards."

    Why so? He pitched in pro baseball, didn't he? Do we then have to exclude guys like Mark Sampson, Harry Fanok, Mike Marinko, Ray Culp, and Dick Smith, too, since they all pitched with tremendous velocity in the Minors (Fanok also pitched in the Majors, I know, but only briefly...Ray Culp had actually injured his arm before coming to the Majors and threw far harder in the Minors)?
    "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
    -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.

  18. #238
    Quote Originally Posted by Dalkowski110 View Post
    103 was the motorcycle test, so that can be discarded. 101.6 is something Feller claimed he hit early on after throwing the 98.6 mph pitch, but it later turned out to have been the same pitch (which he now claims was going 107 mph), 100 flat I've never been able to find the source for, and 98.6 was of course the lumiline chronograph. Not as consistent or accurate as you might think. But I will agree he was fast.
    Throughout this discussion, you have repeatedly accepted or rejected certainn tests or observations purely on the basis of your viewpoint. This is not intended as a personal attack; but if technological best-efforts in any generation are dismissed as unreliable, then so too are the velocities of any "hopeful" from that era. It becomes moot.


    "1. Human nature loves to participate in the making of mythology. This is not to call "bridge batters" liars; but it does suggest that the mere fact of having faced Dalkowski makes them part of the legend."

    Which is why I use the example of Etchebarren in particular. He didn't like Steve particularly much and was a good friend of Ryan's. If anything, wouldn't he have wanted to participate in Ryan's legend and not Dalkowski's?

    Billy DeMars is another guy not exactly crazy about Steve (if you want some details, PM me). Yet, he believes that Steve was the fastest he ever saw and probably the fastest ever.

    "2. Being part of a legend, by extension, attracts attention to the non-legend player, who emotionally [in the eyes of the awed] demands credibility. The extension of the legend becomes expert in the technological facts defining the legend."

    Actually, none of the guys independently analyzing the stills and (very soon) the film I have of Steve ever batted against him and are quite determined to be unbiased. In fact, one of my analysts set out to prove he was NOT the fastest and came away believing he was.
    All of the above relate credibility either to the way observers felt about Dalkoski, personally. This is totally irrelevant.

    I and severeal other guys that actually batted against Steve Dalkowski are convinced that if his motion were smoother, Aroldis Chapman may approach/equal the kind of velocity Steve had. Zumaya has the mechanics, but not the range of motion in his wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints (something Steve had plenty extra of for his scapular load) to probably even surpass Steve Dalkowski. If he had a greater range of motion in wrist, elbow, and shoulder joints by about 10%-15%, he would be throwing as hard as Steve was. I am convinced of that.

    Also, recall that during his career from 1957-1961, when Paul Richards was promising everyone left and right that Steve would make the Majors easily, you had the same kind of talk going on. In 1962, when he gained control and had a 53 inning scoreless streak, the AP and UPI were following him around. That's hardly in the realm of "myth that a few people saw." He HAD been seen, was not invisible, and was not absent. He was right there and would gladly pitch for any journalist that wanted to see his fastball.
    Dalkowski's career [all in minor league ball] spanned the years 1957 through 1965. Overall, his W-L record was 46-80, with an ERA of 5.57. By 1962-65, when he was ages 23 through 26, we may reasonably assume that at the A ball level and above, as his BB seemed to be getting into a realm of manageability, his hits surrendered/9IP had t=risen from the 6-7 range to the 8-12 range. Overall, his WHIP was >2.000.

    "Dalkowski must become just that - an external model /device for arriving at comp standards."

    Why so? He pitched in pro baseball, didn't he? Do we then have to exclude guys like Mark Sampson, Harry Fanok, Mike Marinko, Ray Culp, and Dick Smith, too, since they all pitched with tremendous velocity in the Minors (Fanok also pitched in the Majors, I know, but only briefly...Ray Culp had actually injured his arm before coming to the Majors and threw far harder in the Minors)?
    The key here is that he did not pitch in pro baseball. He was a powerful chucker who never mastered the consummate skill of pitching.

    If we want a head-on match up of a MLB reminiscent of Dalkowski, check out Rex Barney of the Dodgers. On a much more productive level, bring in Rob Dibble, who just may have been faster than any of those mentioned.

  19. #239
    Join Date
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    "Throughout this discussion, you have repeatedly accepted or rejected certainn tests or observations purely on the basis of your viewpoint. This is not intended as a personal attack; but if technological best-efforts in any generation are dismissed as unreliable, then so too are the velocities of any "hopeful" from that era. It becomes moot."

    This is because I happen to know the reliability of the devices in the cases of the chonographs firsthand. I know which ones worked well with bullets and arrows and can assume the same of baseballs. I know which ones did not work well with anything, per se. And try finding someone...ANYONE...who will take the motorcycle test seriously. I happen to have spoken with Minor Leaguers at the time who called the test, and I quote directly "a joke." You have to be selective about the accuracy or lack thereof of a device if you know for a fact that it is or is not accurate. To do otherwise would be foolish.

    "All of the above relate credibility either to the way observers felt about Dalkoski, personally. This is totally irrelevant."

    Why? If you took the interviews yourself and had people trying to avoid you or dodge questions because of how they felt about him (though I will admit Billy DeMars was not one), you would not believe the same way. No way in heck.

    "Dalkowski's career [all in minor league ball] spanned the years 1957 through 1965. Overall, his W-L record was 46-80, with an ERA of 5.57. By 1962-65, when he was ages 23 through 26, we may reasonably assume that at the A ball level and above, as his BB seemed to be getting into a realm of manageability, his hits surrendered/9IP had t=risen from the 6-7 range to the 8-12 range. Overall, his WHIP was >2.000."

    Steve suffered a grade two MCL tear in Spring Training, 1963. The fact he was able to pitch through it caused him to lose a significant amount of his speed, but is remarkable for his simply being able to pitch through it at all. And I am fully aware that the Orioles misdiagnosed him with a pinched ulnar nerve; the symptoms do not match at all.

    "The key here is that he did not pitch in pro baseball. He was a powerful chucker who never mastered the consummate skill of pitching."

    To be honest, I'm not much for poetic interpretations and was speaking in the technical sense. Likewise, in the technical sense, Steve was a left-handed pitcher. It is what he was announced into the game as and pitcher was the position he played. Until you find me a box score that says "chucker" or "thrower" listed as a position next to "Dalkowski," he was a professional pitcher. Period.

    "check out Rex Barney of the Dodgers."

    I have. Though somewhat unrelated, most of the batters that faced Feller and Barney said Feller was faster.

    "On a much more productive level, bring in Rob Dibble, who just may have been faster than any of those mentioned."

    Seeing as he was unable to match Zumaya's speed or Ryan's speed (and remember, Ryan was clocked 45 feet from his hand, not at release like Dibble was, and on an accurate device), I find that to be highly doubtful. And for that matter, I doubt he was as fast as Dalkowski, either.
    Last edited by Dalkowski110; 03-15-2010 at 08:55 PM.
    "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
    -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

    Motafy (MO-ta-fy) vt. -fied, -fying 1. For a pitcher to melt down in a big game situation; to become like Guillermo Mota. 2. The transformation of a good pitcher into one of Guillermo Mota's caliber.

  20. #240
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    A list of the "90 MPH Club" made the rounds in 1974-75. Some versions list where & how the pitchers were timed. I'm not posting this as an indication of who was fastest when or where. Consider it for amusement only.

    1. 100.9 Nolan Ryan, Angels 1974
    2. 98.6 Bob Feller, Indians 1946
    3. 95.5 Steve Barber, Orioles 1960
    4. 95.3 Don Drysdale, Dodgers 1960
    5 94.7 Atley Donald, Yankees 1939
    6. 94.2 Bob Turley, Yankees 1958
    7. 93.5 Steve Dalkowski, minors 1958
    8. 93.2 Sandy Koufax, Dodgers 1960
    9. 91.1 Ryne Duren, Yankees 1960
    10. 91.0 Herb Score, White Sox 1960

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