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Baseball Myths

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  • Baseball Myths

    I allways see people posting about myths that they've heard or read about so I decided to set up this thread so that these myths can be gathered and and scrutinized by our fellow baseball fans. And maybe in the end some of these myths can be buried in a tomb of logic and scientific analysis (wow that sounded dorky).

    It's basically Mythbusters except solely about baseball and without Buster or Jamies mustache.
    Greystones Mariners Baseball Club. The oldest baseball club in Ireland. 16 years and still going strong.

    www.greystonesbaseball.org

  • #2
    Posted by Tony K. in the Trivia Fourm:
    According to one yarn, Mike King Kelly reportedly broke the last baseball bat that either team had, so he chose to use an axe he found in a nearby shed. When he swung at the next pitch, the axe chopped the ball in two, and one half went over the grandstand, and the other half landed out in left field.

    Kelly rounded third, and slid into home just as the ball arrived. The umpire called him out, and that started a rhubarb. Kelly insisted he was only half out (he had been tagged by only half of the ball). Tim Hurst, the umpire, reversed his call and ruled that Kelly had scored half a run.

    I know this was true because the story was told on the old Ripley's Believe It Or Not radio show!
    Also this, about "keeping your eye on the ball"
    Busting Baseball Myths: Scientist Throws Big Curveballs

    By Bjorn Carey
    LiveScience Staff Writer
    posted: 20 April 2006
    09:06 am ET



    Your Little League coach probably didn't know it, but every time he sent you to the plate with the instructions "keep your eye on the ball," he was giving you an impossible task.



    And if you followed the coach's advice of positioning yourself directly under a popup, you probably struggled to catch balls in the outfield, too.



    Ken Fuld, a baseball enthusiast and visual psychophysicist at the University of New Hampshire, has pored over numerous baseball studies and suggests that neither of these approaches produce optimal results.



    Instead, much to your coach’s chagrin, you should try mimicking the quirks of the best Major League players.



    Major League heat



    At the Major League level, pitchers sling fastballs between 90 and 100 mph and sometimes a tweak faster. The ball moves far too swiftly for a batter to watch for its entire journey to home plate.



    "In the last few feet before the plate, the ball reaches an angular velocity that exceeds the ability of the eye to track the ball," Fuld told LiveScience. "The best hitters can track the ball to within 5 or 6 feet of the plate."



    Sometimes players will abandon eye contact mid-way through the pitch and move their line of sight to where they anticipate the ball will cross the plate. Batters often "take" the first couple pitches of an "at bat" in this manner to try and calibrate the movement and speed of a pitcher's offerings.



    Killer curve



    But a hitter is at the mercy of what the pitch does in those last few feet. That's when their eyes have left the ball and a nasty 12-to-6 curveball—a pitch named after the face of a clock and which drops top to bottom—can make even the best hitters swing out of their shoes. The pitch looks innocent enough, but during the instant the hitter is blind to the ball, a good curveball will have dropped a foot or more, and the batter will likely swing over the pitch.



    Because of its straight trajectory, many hitters have an easier time hitting a four-seam, 100-mph fastball than a lively curveball. Forkballs, sinkers, and split-fingered fastballs, all of which have tough-to-judge spin and dart around the strike zone, are similarly tough to hit.



    On the flipside are knuckleballs. Even though they're slow-moving and have little to no spin, they flutter erratically, making them one of the most difficult pitches to connect with. As legendary hitting coach Charlie Lau once said, "There are two theories on hitting a knuckleball. Unfortunately, neither of them works."



    The myth of the rising fastball



    Fuld has pondered other aspects of hitting that will interest any fan.



    When a hitter swings under the ball and misses, baseball announcers sometimes say the pitcher got him with a "rising fastball." But technically, this pitch cannot exist if thrown overhand—it's impossible for a pitch thrown downward to buck gravity and achieve upward lift.



    The rising fastball deceives the hitter in almost the opposite way a good curve does. A 90-mph fastball will drop significantly less than one thrown at 80 mph. So instead of dropping a few inches in the last few feet, a fastball with some serious zip will maintain a nearly straight trajectory.



    "If he thinks it's an 80-mph fastball, but it's really 90 mph, since it didn't drop it will appear to rise in that last instant," Fuld said. "It looks like it hops up, and that's the illusion of a rising fastball."



    See the ball, catch the ball



    Perceptions mess with minds in the field, too.



    Any pro would tell you that the hardest ball to catch is a line drive smoked right at them. Sure, there's the fear that it might put a dent in your forehead, but it's the lack of visual information that makes the ball difficult to judge.



    When a ball is hit to the left or right of a fielder, the player can observe the ball's velocity, acceleration, and angle to figure out where it might land. Some people might consider baseball players to be dumb jocks, but they're constantly doing geometry on the fly.



    "Good players do not run to a place where the ball will land and then wait for it, but rather catch the ball while running," Fuld said. "This is contrary to what many coaches prescribe, which is to 'get under the ball and not drift on it.'"



    When the ball is hit directly at a player, the most of the available visual information is in the form of angular velocity, the rate at which the ball appears to enlarge as it approaches. But a lack of linear velocity makes it difficult to determine the ball's path or how long it will take to get there.



    So the next time you see a player taking a lazy, jogging approach to catch a fly ball, you should praise him for his math skills rather than blasting him for not hustling.



    Assuming he catches it, of course.

    And this, about wiether or not better hitters see the ball as being bigger

    Baseball Science: Better Hitters See Ball as Bigger

    By Robert Roy Britt
    LiveScience Managing Editor
    posted: 15 December 2005
    09:37 am ET



    After hitting a 565-foot home run, Mickey Mantle once said, "I just saw the ball as big as a grapefruit." During a slump, Joe "Ducky" Medwick of the St. Louis Cardinals said he was "swinging at aspirins."

    A new study puts some science behind those perceptions.

    Researchers found a correlation between batting averages of softball players and how big or small they perceived the ball to be.

    After games at several softball fields in Charlottesville, Va., the researchers asked 47 players to pick from eight different-sized circles the one that best represented the size of the ball they had been trying to hit.

    "Only people who hit .500 or above pointed at the big circle," said Jessica Witt, a cognitive psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Virginia.

    A real thing

    The softball players literally see the ball as larger, the study concludes. "It's not in their minds. It's in perception," Witt told LiveScience.

    Witt was not surprised. She competed last July for the gold medal-winning U.S. Ultimate Frisbee team at the 2005 World Games in Duisburg, Germany. She has experienced a similar effect.

    "The player I'm throwing to seems so far away when I'm throwing against the wind, but when I'm throwing with the wind it seems to be a short toss even if it's far," she said.

    It's not entirely clear what's going on, however.

    The study did not reveal whether the participants saw the ball as bigger and therefore hit better, or if they were having a good day and therefore recall perceiving the ball as being bigger. But Witt speculates it's all about being ready to hit well.

    "The body is in synch and ready to be a good batter," she said. "That affects perception."

    Can we trick perception?

    Witt figures the concept applies to life outside sports, too.

    A study last year by other researchers found similar perception differences in successful dart throwers. Another study found that destinations are perceived as being farther away when study participants wear heavier backpacks.

    "Perspective and perception play a big role in what we do and how well we do it," she said.

    The new study's results might be related to the reason many athletes visualize their performance beforehand. "If you visualize yourself hitting better, maybe you'll see the ball as bigger," Witt said. In further research, she hopes to investigate whether we can trick the perception system into thinking the ball is bigger.

    The findings are detailed in the December issue of the journal Psychological Science.

    And this about throwing a ball to a toddler slower makes it easier to hit

    Study Finds Kids Can't Hit Slow Pitches

    By LiveScience Staff

    posted: 04 May 2005
    05:26 pm ET



    You're throwing a ball for a toddler to smack with a plastic bat. You toss it gently, slowly, to make it easier. He just can't hit it.

    It's because you throw too slowly, a new study finds.

    Kids' brains aren't wired for slow motion.

    "When you throw something slowly to a child, you think you're doing them a favor by trying to be helpful," said Terri Lewis, professor of psychology at McMaster University. "Slow balls actually appear stationary to a child."

    Add a little speed to the pitch, Lewis and her colleagues suggest, and the child is able to judge its speed more accurately.

    "Our brain has very few neurons that deal specifically with slow motion and many neurons that deal with faster motion," Lewis said. "Even adults are worse at slow speeds than they are at faster speeds."

    Kids' neurons are immature, making the task even more challenging for them.

    The study will be detailed in the July issue of Vision Research.
    2 myths busted, 1 yet to be, and 1 solved.

    Comment


    • #3
      1) Abner Doubleday invented baseball
      2) Ruth called his shot in the '32 Series
      3) Pete Rose agreed to a ban
      4) Joe Jackson knew about the '19 WS fix
      5) Josh Gibson hit a fair ball out of Yankee Stadium

      Good luck on this one
      6) Candy Cummings invented the curveball (at least they busted the myth that it was an optical illusion)
      Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
      Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge

      Comment


      • #4
        One myth that gets a lot of play here is about Eddie Cicotte's bonus in 1919.

        RMB beat me to the Josh Gibson myth.

        Comment


        • #5
          Rose didn't?

          [QUOTE=RuthMayBond]3) Pete Rose agreed to a ban


          Sure about that? I may have been asleep at the wheel on this one, but my memory from reading too much on this is that he did. You have a cite that doesn't rely on Pete's word?

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by RuthMayBond
            2) Ruth called his shot in the '32 Series
            Well he DID call it, but not in the fashion Hollywood would have us believe.

            There are several myths about Ruth that could be put on here.

            Hitting the ball through the legs of a pitcher for a home-run to center field. Not true. It was a line drive up the middle, pitcher jumped up and it went through his legs and hit just behind second base where it took a wicked hop and bounced over Speaker's head for a triple.

            Hit an infield pop-up for an inside-the-park homer. Not true. He reached second on an error by Jimmy Dykes once, and got a few triples on towering pop-ups to the outfield. He did once hit a pop fly to the left fielder in Yankee Stadium during a strong wind. It landed over his head and Ruth got a homer. My guess is he had to be just past second when it landed.

            Held Huggins of the back of a train. Not true. During a train celebration, him and some teammates banged on Huggins' locked cabin door and said they would throw him off the train if he didn't come out. Nothing more.

            Baby Ruth candy bar named after Grover Cleveland's daughter Ruth. Not true. http://www.snopes.com/business/names/babyruth.asp

            Yankee pinstripes myth.

            Saved baseball. Not true. Baseball never had a chance to need saving, because Ruth's homers in '20 distracted the fans from details of the case. He acted as a smokescreen to protect the game more than anything.

            Used a 54 ounce bat for his career. Not true. Tried that weight for only a short time in '20 when he ordered a batch. Never repeated the order. Used a 52 ouncer here and there with Boston but his heaviest useful bat after '19 was from 44-47.

            Johnny Sylvester incident. No promise of a homer directly from Ruth. No personal visit from Ruth until after the '26 Series. He asked for a Ruth autographed baseball and his dad wired Babe. The next day two autographed baseballs (signed by players from both WS teams) showed up either at Johnny's house or the hospital. The boy was holding the ball(s) while listening to Ruth's three homer display in game four. The announcer mentioned a homer promise, kid got better, and myth is born.

            Babe used a corked bat. Not true. Not going to get into this.

            Barrow was responsible for switching Ruth to the outfield. Hooper deserves the credit imo.

            No No Nanette is to blame for Ruth becoming a Yankee. Well, No No Nanette first opened in Chicago in 1924. It didn't hit broadway until 1925. However the sale of Babe allowed Frazee to continue his theater productions. In 1920 he produced a theatrical performance called My Fair Lady. In 1924 he put it to music and changed its name to No No Nanette. So true.
            Last edited by Sultan_1895-1948; 08-08-2006, 12:00 AM.
            "By common consent, Ruth was the hardest hitter of history; a fine fielder, if not a finished one; an inspired base runner, seeming to do the right thing without thinking. He had the most perfect co-ordination of any human animal I ever knew." - Hugh Fullerton, 1936 (Chicago sports writer, 1893-1930's)

            ROY / ERA+ Title / Cy Young / WS MVP / HR Title / Gold Glove / Comeback POY / BA Title / MVP / All Star / HOF

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by kckid2599
              Posted by Tony K. in the Trivia Fourm:

              Quote:
              According to one yarn, Mike King Kelly reportedly broke the last baseball bat that either team had, so he chose to use an axe he found in a nearby shed. When he swung at the next pitch, the axe chopped the ball in two, and one half went over the grandstand, and the other half landed out in left field.

              Kelly rounded third, and slid into home just as the ball arrived. The umpire called him out, and that started a rhubarb. Kelly insisted he was only half out (he had been tagged by only half of the ball). Tim Hurst, the umpire, reversed his call and ruled that Kelly had scored half a run.

              I know this was true because the story was told on the old Ripley's Believe It Or Not radio show!
              I looked into this one by doing a bit of research on the web but found nothing about it. Looked at Mike King Kelly's profiles' on several websites including Wickipedia but none of them mentioned anyhting about this. Neither could I find out about it being on the old Ripley's Believe It Or Not radio show.

              Unless anybody has any phisical evidence that can prove this, I think the circumstances of this myth seem just a bit too unrealistic.
              Greystones Mariners Baseball Club. The oldest baseball club in Ireland. 16 years and still going strong.

              www.greystonesbaseball.org

              Comment


              • #8
                A lot of people (and we see this question a bit in trivia) are under the impression Jackie Robinson was the first African-American to play Major League Baseball. It's a favorite question for non-scholars, while most who have studied the history of baseball or played trivial pursuit know of the handful, including the Walker Brothers, of African-American players in the 19th Century.
                Dave Bill Tom George Mark Bob Ernie Soupy Dick Alex Sparky
                Joe Gary MCA Emanuel Sonny Dave Earl Stan
                Jonathan Neil Roger Anthony Ray Thomas Art Don
                Gates Philip John Warrior Rik Casey Tony Horace
                Robin Bill Ernie JEDI

                Comment


                • #9
                  Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter under the influence of LSD - tenatively true.
                  Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules -- and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sultan_1895-1948
                    Hit an infield pop-up for an inside-the-park homer.
                    Off topic, but Kelly Gruber actually did that once--the famous "fog" homer, before the Blue Jays moved to the dome.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Shoeless
                      Off topic, but Kelly Gruber actually did that once--the famous "fog" homer, before the Blue Jays moved to the dome.
                      You got the date on that one?
                      Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
                      Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by RuthMayBond
                        You got the date on that one?
                        Ah, the joys of the internet...I found a list of all Blue Jays inside-the-park homers. Gruber's fog-up was June 12, 1986. The game was called immediately afterward (presumbably because the next ball hit in the air could kill someone).

                        I would kill to see the replay again...it played over and over at the time. You never saw nine guys (well, six--you can't actually see the outfielders) look so befuddled. Then the ball drops out of nowhere, and you realize Gruber's still running.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Shoeless
                          Off topic, but Kelly Gruber actually did that once--the famous "fog" homer, before the Blue Jays moved to the dome.
                          Not sure it was an infield pop

                          http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/B06120TOR1986.htm
                          Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
                          Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            2) Ruth called his shot in the '32 Series


                            There is photographic evidence that Ruth pointed toward the outfield wall. Whether he was 'calling his shot', or demonstrating that he had one strike left, depends on who you believe. By the way, he did not point to the bleachers, as many believe, because the bleachers weren't added to Wrigley Field until 1937.

                            Bob

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by RuthMayBond
                              Not sure about that one, but I'm 100% sure that one happend May 17th, 1971 in a game between the Senators and the Indians at RFK. Tom Mcgraw was the batter. Jack Heidemann, Vada Piston and John Lowenstein all violently collided in shallow Left moments before the ball dropped. Eddie Leon (the second basemen) ran out, picked up the ball and fired it home, but McGraw slid under the tag. All three Indian players left the game. John Lowenstien later remarked " That was no ball McGraw hit, that was a bomb!"

                              Comment

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