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

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

    It happened again. While perusing the threads this afternoon, I once again ran across the curious statement that pitchers of 20/50/100 years ago threw with "much less" velocity than they pitchers of today do.

    What with all the talk of records and records being broken recently, this doctrine seems to be on just about every Fever-er's lips these days. As I have provided partial rebuttals to these claims in several threads, I thought it would be a good idea to collect them and centralize the argument in this one thread.

    As for myself, I can offer at least four strong reasons/evidences that pitchers of yesteryear threw no slower than today, but I thought I would first toss the question out there.

    Why do you think pitchers 20/50/100 years ago threw with much less velocity than their modern counterparts do?
    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

  • #2
    You'd be surprised how few pitchers can register over 100 consistently today.

    Billy Wagner can. Bartolo Colon can. That's about the extent of it.

    Billy Wagner, in 2003, threw more pitches that registered over 100 mph than everybody else in the majors combined. I can't exactly remember the number, but I'm pretty sure it was in the 140 pitches range.

    Mariano tops out at 97 with his two seamer. But he throws the four seamer at 93 and the cutter between 92 and 95.

    Martinez hasn't hit 97 in almost five years. Johnson regularly hits 98 or so, but he'll only hit 100 once in a blue moon. I haven't seen Clemens go higher than 96 since his Toronto days.
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by ElHalo
      Martinez hasn't hit 97 in almost five years. Johnson regularly hits 98 or so, but he'll only hit 100 once in a blue moon. I haven't seen Clemens go higher than 96 since his Toronto days.
      Pedro hasn't consistently hit 97 since the first half of 2001 when he got injured, but he'll hit it every now and then. He hit 97 alot late in the game in his 2003 starts, including Game 7 last year. And he was consistently hitting 95-96 in Anaheim for Game 2 and can top out at 97, but why do it in the regular season when he can easily get hurt, because he has been effective throwing 90-91 before?

      And I think I read that Clemens hit 99 MPH once or twice last year in his 300th win game.

      Comment


      • #4
        Heck No.Look at the 60's Gibby,McDowell,Seaver,Ryan ,go all the way to THE BIG TRAIN in the 20's.This is why I love baseball.Football,basketball even golf have seen players markedly surpass their predecessors,yet baseball (Ruth said it best "The only Sport") is still linked to it's past as far as comparisons go.

        Comment


        • #5
          Radar guns measure the speed of the ball, but velocity can also measure the movement of the ball as it spins. Perhaps this is what is being judged against the pitchers of the past...the velocity of the spin put on the ball.

          Comment


          • #6
            So far the responses have been pleasantly intelligent, thanks guys. I wonder, though, where the crowd is who literally ascribe old-time pitchers' fastballs as equivalent in velocity to today's batting-practice pitches? Believe it or not, but I have read just such a sentiment expressed multiple times on this forum.
            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

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by LouGehrig
              MORE of today's pitchers throw harder compared to those of the past but the maximum speed is probably about the same.

              It is similar to longevity. MORE individuals today live longer than those in the past, but the maximum age of those that live the longest is about the same.
              Interesting. Although I appreciate your analogy, can elborate on this hypothesis of yours? I'm hoping to stimulate some more actual discussion out of the topic.
              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

              Comment


              • #8
                Though we'll never know the exact speed, Amos Rusie's deadly fastball was the reason for moving the pitching mound from fifty feet to its present distance of sixty feet six inches from home plate.

                However, I suspect in the deadball era everything moved a tad slower than today. We know that players hit fewer home runs back then.

                On the other hand, there was a certain Denton True Young with his funny way of pushing off the mound and whirling like a cyclone. He probably pitched in the 90s at his peak.

                And don't forget some of the great pitchers of the Negro Leagues, like Satchel Paige and Smoky Joe Williams!
                Last edited by soxlady; 10-12-2004, 10:07 PM.
                "Let's not forget all those who've gone before." - Joe Pickering, Jr.

                Comment


                • #9
                  One thing that pops into my mind is how the standard for an excellent fastball has risen in even the last 15 years. Back in 1989 or so, a 90 MPH fastball was considered a good fastball. 95 or better was elite. Now, 95 MPH is good. 90 is nothing, and to be considered one of the best heaters, you better be able to hit 97 or 98 with some degree of consistency.

                  Look at all the pitchers that can hit 95 MPH. Just to name a few: Wood, Prior, Farnsworth, Zambrano (that's just one team), Martinez, Johnson, Percival, Benetiz, Smoltz, Wagner, Clemens (I think he can still dial it up that high), Schilling, Rivera, Colon, and I'm sure there are plenty more names that are slipping my mind right now.

                  I think its a reasonable assumption that in the past there wasn't that kind of overall velocity. I think the best of the best (Johnson, Young, Grove, ect.) of the past could match heaters with the pitchers of today, but as an overall general rule the velocity was slower in past years.
                  "I will calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame."
                  - Sammy Sosa

                  "Get a comfy chair, Sammy, cause its gonna be a long wait."
                  - Craig Ashley (AKA Windy City Fan)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Windy City Fan
                    One thing that pops into my mind is how the standard for an excellent fastball has risen in even the last 15 years. Back in 1989 or so, a 90 MPH fastball was considered a good fastball. 95 or better was elite. Now, 95 MPH is good. 90 is nothing, and to be considered one of the best heaters, you better be able to hit 97 or 98 with some degree of consistency.

                    Look at all the pitchers that can hit 95 MPH. Just to name a few: Wood, Prior, Farnsworth, Zambrano (that's just one team), Martinez, Johnson, Percival, Benetiz, Smoltz, Wagner, Clemens (I think he can still dial it up that high), Schilling, Rivera, Colon, and I'm sure there are plenty more names that are slipping my mind right now.
                    *Cough*

                    Despite the fairly recent trend in overclocking scoreboard radar guns, and the impression it seems to have wrought, scouts' standards for ranking quality fastballs still hasn't changed after all these years.
                    "There are two basic models of radar guns used to clock the speed of fast balls. The Jugs Speed Gun (Fast Gun) will pick up the speed of the fast ball after it has traveled 3.5 feet and the Raglan (Slow Gun) will pick up the speed after the ball has traveled 40-50 feet. A fast ball will lose 8 mph from the time it leaves the pitchers hand to the time it crosses home plate. The JUGS speed Gun is usually 3-4 mph faster than the Raglan. The average major league fast ball is 88-89 mph on a JUGS Speed Gun and 84-85 mph on the Raglan. Scouts will rarely if ever sign a pitcher who does not throw at least 85 mph on the JUGS Speed Gun."
                    and this from a "What MLB Scouts Look For" article:

                    "The following fastball velocities are Major League Baseball pitcher ratings

                    Very Above Average 94+ mph
                    Above Average 92 - 93 mph
                    Average 89 - 91 mph
                    Below Average 87 - 88 mph
                    Very Below Average 85 - 86 mph
                    And then this, the scores normally used by scouts on their scouting sheets:
                    "The numbers below were compiled by Andy May from information he obtained from the MLB Scouting Bureau. We thank Andy for giving WebBall permission to reprint them from his site.

                    Scale Velocity
                    8 98 mph +
                    7 93-97 mph
                    6 90-92 mph
                    5 88-89 mph
                    4 85-87 mph
                    3 83-84 mph
                    2 82 mph - "
                    Last edited by HitchedtoaSpark; 10-13-2004, 06:16 AM.
                    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

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Again, thanks to you guys for your intelligent responses, and no ludicrous claims about pitchers of the past throwing batting-practice fastballs in-game. However, for those advocates that may be reading, I would like to address this conceit, as well as other aspects of this argument, in the following post.



                      HitchedtoaSpark’s Reasons why pitchers were throwing with just as much velocity in the old days as they are now.

                      1. There is no physiological reason to support the assumption that pitchers are throwing faster now than they were 20/50/100 years ago.

                      One that is pointed out is the increased physical stature in players over the last several generations. While it is true that, in general, pitchers (and players) have gotten increasingly taller with each generation, this means little since the model fireball pitcher over the past 100+ years and even today has been, with few exceptions, a rather mid-sized fellow—6’-6’4”: Cy Young (6’2”), Amos Rusie (6’1”), Rube Waddell (6’2”), Ed Walsh (6’1”), Walter Johnson (6’2”), Dazzy Vance (6’2”), Lefty Grove (6’3”), Dizzy Dean (6’2”), Bob Feller (6’), Johnny Vander Meer (6’1”), Sandy Koufax (6’2”), Bob Gibson (6’1”), Tom Seaver (6’1”), Steve Carlton (6’4”), Nolan Ryan (6’2”), Dwight Gooden (6’2”), Roger Clemens (6’4”), David Cone (6’1”), Mark Wohlers (6’4”), Eric Gagne (6’2”), etc. Of course, exceptions on the tall side exist—Don Drysdale (6’5”), Sam McDowell (6’5”), J.R. Richard (6’8”), Randy Johnson (6’10”), Kerry Wood (6’5”)—but then so do shorter examples—Kid Nichols (5’10”), Smoky Joe Wood (5’10”), Ron Guidry (5’11”), Pedro Martinez (5’9”), Billy Wagner (5’8”)—the most recent examples of which display a height well within the stature of even the smallest starting pitchers 100 years ago, and a dominance of today’s much taller ML product which puts paid to the idea that pitchers of more modest stature cannot challenge the gun achievements of their more generously-statured peers.

                      Another oft-cited rebuttal is the claim that today’s weight training programs have given today’s moundsmen pitching arms of a strength superior to their predecessors. The problem with this claim is that there exists no evidence whatsoever that weight training increases pitching velocity. While I’m sure than many, if not most, recognize the importance of weight training in helping their pitchers build endurance, there’s not a pitching coach in the majors today who believes that it can do anything to help their charges’ fastballs. Most weight training is designed to build your maximum strength—the maximum amount of weight that you can lift—not absolute strength—the maximum amount you can lift at the maximum amount of speed; a.k.a., explosive strength—or muscle elasticity, which are the type of strength components that go into pitching velocity. Leo Mazzone, perhaps MLB’s most respected pitching coach, has gone on record regarding building velocity by saying that there is “simply no replacement for picking up a ball and throwing it.” To reiterate, there has not been one iota of evidence produced which shows that weight training increases pitching velocity.


                      2. Simple physics and Babe Ruth

                      In Robert K. Adair’s famous tome, The Physics of Baseball, we learn that the faster the pitch coming in, the greater energy it contains. Therefore, the heavier the bat needed to “reverse” the power of the pitch and send in rocketing toward the outfield fence. Conversely, the slower the pitch (batting practice), the less energy it contains; and therefore, the lighter the bat needed to provide the extra energy needed to drive the ball for distance (look at fungo-hitting, for instance). This simple physics lesson provides us with a lot of insight into the batter-pitcher paradigm, and allows us to draw several conclusions which seem to be very much in line with those subscribed to by today’s batters. After all, they typically bring their lightest bat to batting-practice, and consequently hit their farthest drives during this pre-game exercise.

                      And yet, if one believes in-game fastballs of, say, 80 years ago were the equivalent of today’s batting-practice pitches, how does one account for Ruth? During his prime years of the 1920’s, Ruth used bats between 54-42 oz. in-game—far heavier than anything seen in today’s game, much less batting-practice. And yet, research of the most painstaking type by home run expert Bill Jenkinson has established that Ruth was the greatest (furthest and most consistent) distance hitter of all-time. In 1921, for instance, it is an established fact that Ruth hit at least one 500-ft. home run in each of the eight American League parks. During this season, Ruth was typically employing 50-54 oz. war clubs. If the simple physics lesson above teaches us anything, it is that no one should be able to hit the ball as far with much heavier bats as other similarly-powered sluggers do with conversely lighter bats against pitches of relatively equal, low velocity; for one cannot swing the heavy bat with as much velocity as the light bat. And yet, if one subscribes to the theory that in-game fastballs of 80 years ago were the equivalent of today’s batting-practice pitches, then one must accept that Ruth could literally defy physics. The rejoinder, “Imagine how far he might have hit him had he used the same weight of bat that today’s sluggers use!” would be missing the point; for, according to the physics model above, it should have already been impossible for Ruth to have hit them as far as he did with the hefty bats he used. According to the model above, he would have had to have already been using much lighter bats to have been able to remain such a prodigious and consistent distance hitter in this would-be era of batting-practice pitches.

                      Of course, a more logical conclusion to this seeming-conundrum would be that the in-game pitches Ruth was hitting were traveling much faster than batting-practice velocity. In fact, the faster one assumes the pitches were traveling, the more credible Ruth’s distance achievements become; as it would accord with the demonstrated physics model Adair outlines in The Physics of Baseball, and the one which experience has taught us. For instance, concluding that Ruth’s May 7, 1921, 500+-ft. blast off Walter Johnson, which sailed over Griffith Stadium’s 457-ft. centerfield wall high into the trees behind, was hit off of a 95+-mph. fastball makes immensely more logical sense according to the demonstrated physics models than believing Johnson’s victimized pitch was little more than ~80-mph. At this lower speed, Ruth would have had to have provided the lion’s share of the energy himself—something he just would not have been able to do swinging his 50+ oz. war club (unless, again, we are willing to accept that Ruth had far greater bat velocity than any hitter in history; a model I’m less willing to accept as logical). Indeed, as mentioned above, the faster we assume Johnson’s pitch was, the less “superhuman” Ruth becomes. As for me, I’m more willing to believe that Ruth’s distance hitting was the beneficiary of some realistically fast, “energy-loaded” pitching over the superstitious conclusion that Ruth was simply “superhuman” (amazing, yes; superhuman, no).
                      In conclusion, respect of the very science involved in these paradigms demands a conclusion in line with the one scientifically laid out; and, therefore, the common sensical one.


                      3. Evidence in the form of batter injuries suffered at the hands of yesteryear’s fireballers.
                      Experience helps us to recognize that pitches thrown at batting-practice speed, the pedigree of velocity often and recklessly attributed to pitchers decades ago, cannot cause serious bodily injury to the batter 60’6” away. Yet, positively legion are the instances of serious bodily injury, and even compound fracture, caused by errant(?) pitches thrown by yesteryear’s moundsmen. Amos Rusie caved in the skull of Orioles shortstop Hughie Jennings and left him in a brink-of-death coma for four days after connecting one of his legendary heaters with Jennings’ noggin in the year 1892. Though this particular injury was “achieved” with the pitcher’s throwing distance a little more than 50 feet away from the batter, the moving back of the pitcher’s proximity to the batter to 60’6” wasn’t enough to prevent the same thing from happening to a young major-leaguer named Artie Ball six years later, also a victim of a Rusie fastball to the skull. In Ball’s case, he never played another ML game. Perhaps just as frightening as a Rusie fast one inside was Walter Johnson’s “hisser,” as a rookie named Jack Martin could testify in 1912, when he narrowly missed certain death, taking a Johnson fastball to the jaw, shattering it in five places and losing several teeth. A year earlier, a Johnson fast one to the throwing arm of Chicago’s Lee Tannehill had ended the veteran third baseman’s career, shattering his wrist so badly that the injury permanently impaired his throwing ability. In a game in 1915, an errant Johnson pitch struck the Tigers’ Ossie Vitt in the forehead and knocked him cold for ten minutes. Impressive (and scary), until one finds out that the pitch happened to be a curveball, in which case it becomes positively amazing and terrifying (fortunately, Vitt was OK). On May 25, 1937, player-manager and future-HOFer Mickey Cochrane had his skull fractured in three places by an errant Bump Hadley heater. Cochrane was be in a coma for ten days, and would never play again. Though accounts of serious bodily injury occurring at the hands of yesterday’s fireballers are, as I said, legion, I believe the point has been made so I’ll leave it at that for now. Lest we forget, the only death that has yet occurred on a ML diamond was at the hands of submarine fireballer Carl Mays, who crushed Ray Chapman’s skull with a high and inside fastball on August 16, 1920. A pitch thrown at so-called batting practice speed could not have caused such damage, in the case of Mays/Chapman, as in the case of the other instances of serious injury caused by a pitched ball.

                      4. Evidence in the form of yesteryear’s throwing contests
                      Finally, we have hard evidence that players of as much as 140+ years ago were throwing with velocities very comparable to today’s, in the form of throwing distance contests which were held by major-league teams in days gone by. These were commonly one of the attractions of what were known as Field Days, during which the best of two meeting teams (sometimes “All-Star” teams) would compete for top prizes in several field events testing baseball athleticism. Typically, there would be three primary events: 100-yard dash (or base circuit); distance fungo; and distance throw. As with the other two, records of the throwing contestants provides us today with some extremely valuable information regarding the physical skills of players from many decades ago—perhaps even in comparison to today’s—something which would be impossible to determine otherwise.

                      For instance, I recall something the Anaheim Angels did about a month back at their home ballpark. It wasn’t an official Field Day, simply the feat of lining up Vladimir Guerrero behind the third base bag and having him throw it over the right field fence. An impressive throw, no doubt (~350 ft.). Yet the muscular Vlad’s heave doesn’t compare to a throw made by Honus Wagner in a Field Day event held in Pittsburgh between the Louisville and Steel City ballclubs, October 16, 1898. Because records were kept, we know that Honus Wagner made what was considered a record-breaking throw of 403 ft., 8 in. in his (successful) attempt at gaining the day’s top throwing prizes.

                      My research has led me to so far uncover below’s recorded instances of similar distance throws. A couple, like the alleged Tony Mullane throw, I have not yet accepted as “official” because of lack of evidence. Two more, Foxx’s and Feller’s heaves, I have included simply because of the ages at which these respective feats were achieved. (BTW, because of health concerns, pitchers were almost always excluded from these throwing events.)
                      Code:
                      Name	         Date	         Distance	    Place
                      John Hatfield	?/?/?	        349 ft.	        ? 
                      John Hatfield	7/9/1868	396 ft.	        Cincinnati
                      John Hatfield	10/15/1872	400 ft., 7½ in.	Brooklyn
                      Tony Mullane	?/?/?	        416 ft., 7¾ in.	?
                      Farmer Vaughn	6/23/1890	402 ft., 2½ in.	? 
                      Honus Wagner	10/16/1898	403 ft., 8 in.	Pittsburgh
                      Honus Wagner	?/?/1907	399 ft., 10¾ in.? 
                      Larry LeJeune	10/3/1908	435 ft.	        Chicago
                      Larry LeJeune	10/12/1910	401 ft., 4½ in.	Cincinnati
                      Larry LeJeune	10/12/1910	426 ft., 9½ in.	Cincinnati
                      Joe Jackson	9/27/1917	396 ft., 8 in.	Boston
                      Duffy Lewis	9/27/1917	384 ft., 6 in.	Boston
                      Clarence Walker	9/27/1917	384 ft., 6 in.	Boston
                      Al Nixon	?/?/?	        400 ft.	? 
                      Don Grate	9/7/1952	434 ft., 1 in.	Chattanooga
                      Don Grate	8/23/1953	443 ft., 3½ in.	? 
                      Glen Gorbous	8/1/1957	445 ft., 10 in.	Omaha
                      Jimmie Foxx 	5/21/1919	183 ft., 5 in.	Maryland
                      Bob Feller	?/?/1928	275 ft.	        Van Meter, IW
                      The next step is to convert these throwing distances into velocity over 60’6”. This is done by consulting Chart 2.5 in Adair’s The Physics of Baseball, which gives us a “muzzle velocity” for each distance achieved between 200 and 500 ft.; factoring in the 8-mph. drop in velocity from the release point 55’ feet away to the plate; and accounting for an additional ~8-mph. gained by “crow-hopping” (as outfielders do before throwing). According to Chart 2.5, someone who can launch a ball ~404 ft. on the fly throws with a muzzle velocity of ~110 mph. Considering that fast pitchers lose ~8-mph. on their pitches from their release point to the plate, and subtracting the extra ~8-mph. Wagner probably gained from crow-hopping, we see that Wagner’s heave was the equivalent of a 94-mph. fastball. (Likewise, if we take John Hatfield’s 400 ft., 7½ in. throw made on October 15, 1872, we see that Hatfield could speed them in at ~92-mph.)
                      If we then follow the accepted model that the strongest arms in MLB have always been on the pitchers mound, we logically infer that the fastest pitchers in Wagner’s day were throwing over 95-mph—much the same as today.



                      In sum, it is for these four, and other reasons I have accumulated in my research that leads me to, I believe, logically conclude that pitchers were throwing with just as much velocity 20/50/100 years ago as they are today. I sincerely believe that intensive, open-minded research into matters such as these will turn up a lot of surprising things which may overturn some of the preconceived notions the baseball collective holds so jealously to today, and will benefit us in the long run. After all, if we don’t learn from history, we will be, as they say, condemned to repeat it.
                      Last edited by HitchedtoaSpark; 10-13-2004, 06:40 AM.
                      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

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        --I think an important point about Feller's 98.6 MPH clocling is that it came in 1946 and probably did not represent his top speed. I've read comments by Feller to the effect that when he returned from the War he started throwing the slider more and that accounted for his strikeout record in 1946. Batters simply weren't prepared to deal with a very good slider in additon to the great fastball - and a pretty damn good curve. Another comment by Feller that suggests he was not throwing as hard then, although more effectively, is that he used a very high leg kick early in his career but abandoned it after several years. The high leg kick gave him a little extra speed, but hurt his control. I'm fairly confident that had Feller been timed before the War he could have hit 100+. Also, as Hitched has mentioned, many of the pitches/pitchers who hit 100 on todays stadium guns probably would not under the more accurate conditions Feller was measured by. I would guess Grove and Johnson were at least in the high 90s and many of the notable fastball pitchers of old threw at speeds close to those of today's fireballers.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Along with his killer fastball, Rusie owned a nasty slider a la Roger Clemens. I think people were pretty relieved when he started to lose his best stuff around 1898.

                          Though he was an outfielder not a pitcher, Louis Sockalexis was known for heaving the ball to the plate from deep center or right in time to nail runners from third. One documented throw was measured at 414 feet! He was 5'11", big for his time though not one of the biggest. So guys were capable of lightning throws even in the 1890s.
                          "Let's not forget all those who've gone before." - Joe Pickering, Jr.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            You know what I think? I think todays TV radar guns are a lot like the distance markers at the Driving Range.I know on the course I hit my 7 iron consistently to the front of the green from the 150 marker but lo and behold at the Range that same 7 ,now hitting a beat up ball as opposed to a sorta new Pinnacle easily carries the 165 marker.That on the screws drive that travels 245 on the course is a solid 270 at the Range. I think as PT Barnum said best "A sucker is born every day"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by HitchedtoaSpark
                              Interesting. Although I appreciate your analogy, can elborate on this hypothesis of yours? I'm hoping to stimulate some more actual discussion out of the topic.
                              You have stimulated much discussion and my statements have been touched upon fairly well.

                              Today's pitchers, as a group, throw harder than those of the past only because they are bigger and stronger. There are genetic limits to speed, both speed of foot and speed of one's fastball.

                              There may have been and probably were as many individuals in the past who could throw 95 mph, but because they were denied the proper environmental conditions (nutrition, diet, exercise time), they never reached their genetic potential.

                              As conditions changed for the better, more individuals ate better, had better shelter, and more free time (which has changed in the last twenty years). More pitchers today reach their maximum fastball velocity.

                              The limit is a human factor. Steve Dalkowski threw harder than anyone. Using him as the upper limit, some may one day reach it but there is an upper limit.

                              I like your post with the four factors. I will get back to it soon.
                              Baseball articles you might not like but should read.

                              Comment

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