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How fast did Johnson and Feller throw

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  • How fast did Johnson and Feller throw

    Does anyone know this. I know for Johnson, it might be impossible to determine, but I do know that there were some...I think Frank Crossetti...that said that Johnson thew harder than Ryan.

  • #2
    Originally posted by steelcurtain76 View Post
    Does anyone know this. I know for Johnson, it might be impossible to determine, but I do know that there were some...I think Frank Crossetti...that said that Johnson thew harder than Ryan.
    I can't seriously take one man's opinion about two power pitchers separated by so much time. Supposedly, Johnson was clocked at 99.7 mph with some sort of pendulum device. But I can't find any first hand or detailed accounts on this. Bob Feller was timed by the US Army at 98.6 mph. But this was not in a game. Also, Feller has claimed that he was once clocked at 107.9 mph. That sounds like a bit of embellishment on Feller's part.

    http://www.baseball-almanac.com/arti...baseball.shtml
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Honus Wagner Rules View Post
      I can't seriously take one man's opinion about two power pitchers separated by so much time. Supposedly, Johnson was clocked at 99.7 mph with some sort of pendulum device. But I can't find any first hand or detailed accounts on this. Bob Feller was timed by the US Army at 98.6 mph. But this was not in a game. Also, Feller has claimed that he was once clocked at 107.9 mph. That sounds like a bit of embellishment on Feller's part.

      http://www.baseball-almanac.com/arti...baseball.shtml
      I can see him being clocked with some very primitive device at 107.9; we don't know how accurate radar guns were or even if they had them. They might have, though; radar was developed in a very crude way by WW2.

      I suspect the fastest hurlers - Johnson, Feller, Grove, Ryan - all threw about 100 MPH tops. Didn't someone get recorded at 103 once? I can see one of them getting up there on one pitch, but not consistently. And, I think it'd be Johnson if any of them, because in the dead ball era, you could relax for a few innings and didn't have to throw your hardest, except in a tough spot.

      But, that's just one person's opinion. I think it would be very hard to tell across eras.
      If Baseball Integrated Early - baseball integrated from the beginning - and "Brotherhood and baseball," the U.S. history companion, at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Baseballifsandmore - IBIE updated for 2011.

      "Full House Chronology" at yahoo group fullhousefreaks & fullhouse4life with help of many fans, thanks for the input

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      • #4
        I did a lot of research on this a couple years ago. I posted a summary in this Rucker thread:
        http://baseball-fever.com/showpost.p...8&postcount=54

        I have never been able to find the source for Johnson's time of 99.7 MPH. He was timed at 83 MPH using a ballistic pendulum. This represented the velocity of the ball between 60-75 feet from where he threw the ball. It's difficult to judge the accuracy of these machines.

        I am aware of Feller being timed by three different methods:
        1. "Joe Chronograph" machine devised by the US Army. Feller was timed at 98.6.
        2. Bob versus the motorcycle - Feller threw a ball while a motorcycle sped by him going 88-90 MPH. I've seen footage of this stunt. In slo-motion it shows that Feller threw the ball after the motorcycle passed him. It also shows that Feller's throw beat the motorcycle by several feet. Based upon calculations of how many feet Feller beat the motorcycle, someone calculated that his throw was going between 104-108 MPH.
        3. He threw into the machine that was used to time Atley Donald in 1939. Feller was only timed in the 80's which caused many to doubt the veracity of the machine. Donald was timed at 94.7 and held the unofficial record up until Feller threw 98.6 in 1946.
        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 04-03-2007, 02:38 PM.
        "Batting slumps? I never had one. When a guy hits .358, he doesn't have slumps."

        Rogers Hornsby, 1961

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        • #5
          For Johnson to strike out as many guys as he did in the Dead Ball Era is a testament to how hard he threw. He must have been a monster.
          Buck O'Neil: The Monarch of Baseball

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          • #6
            Originally posted by DTF955 View Post
            I can see him being clocked with some very primitive device at 107.9; we don't know how accurate radar guns were or even if they had them. They might have, though; radar was developed in a very crude way by WW2.

            I suspect the fastest hurlers - Johnson, Feller, Grove, Ryan - all threw about 100 MPH tops. Didn't someone get recorded at 103 once? I can see one of them getting up there on one pitch, but not consistently. And, I think it'd be Johnson if any of them, because in the dead ball era, you could relax for a few innings and didn't have to throw your hardest, except in a tough spot.

            But, that's just one person's opinion. I think it would be very hard to tell across eras.
            Zumaya was clocked around 103, Krazy Kyle ratchets it up there every once in a while...does anyone know how fast Rocket has been clocked at?
            "he probably used some performance enhancing drugs so he could do a better job on his report...i hear they make you gain weight" - Dr. Zizmor

            "I thought it was interesting and yes a conversation piece. Next time I post a similar story I will close with the question "So, do you think either of them have used steroids?" so that I can make the topic truly relevant to discussions about today's game." - Eric Davis

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            • #7
              Dunno about Rocket, but Mark Wohlers hit 103 at least once.

              The Bill James Handbook 2006 had Daniel Cabrera as the fastest pitcher in baseball, topping 95 and 100 MPH more consistently than any other pitcher.
              "Any pitcher who throws at a batter and deliberately tries to hit him is a communist."

              - Alvin Dark

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              • #8
                And don't forget Sidd Finch.
                Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by KCGHOST View Post
                  For Johnson to strike out as many guys as he did in the Dead Ball Era is a testament to how hard he threw. He must have been a monster.
                  Yeah. Guys weren't swinging for the fences in those days. A bunch of slap-hitters trying to move baserunners around. Not too many guys striking out 100+ times a season anyway.

                  Plus, Walter could pitch with a dirty, gooey ball and it didn't matter. He must have been one tough son of a gun to hit.

                  Among the fastest I've seen at the ballpark was J.R. Richard. I remember J.R. playing in the minors for the Denver Bears. The man had some stuff, that's for sure (he didn't have great control at the time).

                  Sudden Sam McDowell. That guy had an explosive fastball.

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                  • #10
                    I recently read the biography of Johnson written by his grandson. Many, many references in there to comments made by players of that era as to how fast Johnson was. And it did mention the time they tried to clock him, but I can't put my finger on the section right now. Taking into consideration the fact it was the deadball era, guys were simply trying to make contact, and Johnson was a one pitch pitcher, so everyone knew what was coming, he had to be MIGHTY fast to have the success he did and strike out the number of batters he did. Consider that no other pitcher even approached the career strikeout record until the 60's and 70's and it's even more impressive.
                    You see, you spend a good deal of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time. J. Bouton

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                    • #11
                      These guys played back in the day, so they must have thrown, what 65-70, tops?

                      Anybody who can bench press their own body weight would have been a historically great player fifty years ago. After all, human physiology changes by the day...
                      THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT COME WITH A SCORECARD

                      In the avy: AZ - Doe or Die

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                      • #12
                        so they must have thrown, what 65-70, tops?
                        Actually, Johnson was a very large man. Both Johnson and Feller were raised on farms, and farm work (for those who have done it), especially "back in the day", was hard, physically demanding work - probably more effective at building strength than lifting weights. Also, basing an estimate of how fast someone can throw based on size would have Ron Guidry throwing about 60 or 70 - and if you say he did that, you lose all believability. And Billy Wagner throws pretty hard too for small man. Sorry, just don't buy your argument at all.
                        You see, you spend a good deal of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time. J. Bouton

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by digglahhh View Post
                          These guys played back in the day, so they must have thrown, what 65-70, tops?

                          Anybody who can bench press their own body weight would have been a historically great player fifty years ago. After all, human physiology changes by the day...
                          Jose Mendez was only 5' 8", 155 lbs yet many MLers who faced him thought he was just as fast as Johnson and Mathewson.
                          "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                          "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

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                          • #14
                            Why don't we ask the bird Johnson hit?
                            New York Mets 2007!!!!- 4-1


                            EIS SPRING TRAVEL TEAM 0-0

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by TonyK View Post
                              Jose Mendez was only 5' 8", 155 lbs yet many MLers who faced him thought he was just as fast as Johnson and Mathewson.
                              The minor league legend Steve Dalkowski was only 5'10" about 170 lbs and some consider him the fastest pitcher ever.

                              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Dalkowski
                              Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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