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

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  • Originally posted by evetts18 View Post
    I've seen the Youtube video of Feller supposedly hitting 98 or so. I don't mean to sound like Joe Morgan, but that just doesn't look to me like a fastball that crossed the plate at 98.6, which means it would have left his hand at around 107. While modern radar guns are frequently trashed as being inaccurate and "jacked-up" who's to say that the measuring device used for Feller was any more accurate. It was an Army device, but the government has been known to be wrong a couple of times. In addition, with all those fans in attendance just waiting to hear the news about how hard Feller was throwing, you don't think there was any temptation to exaggerate? Someone should place this video side-by-side (from the same angle) with a modern pitcher known to be throwing a certain speed and compare.
    I suggest you watch the short clip I created of Feller pitching which shows him making Hank Greenberg look completely foolish. That must have been some SERIOUS gas. Definitely upper 90's.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAm5fwb1Psw
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    • I have no doubt Feller and Dalkowski threw some serious heat but any batter can look seriously fooled if he is expecting one thing and the pitchers throws something else. I've seen Tim Wakefield blow a 74 MPH fastball past a hitter. It happens.

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      • Originally posted by hellborn View Post
        Earl Weaver was his MANAGER, not a player at the time. He was 32 then, I think that he had seen some baseball by that point. Cal Ripken Sr. was only 5 years younger than Weaver, so he wasn't a kid when he caught Dalko, either. BTW, Weaver also said that Dalko threw "a lot harder" than Ryan, not just harder. You don't think that Earl was pretty familiar with Ryan?
        Of course the mound makes a difference...it wouldn't exist, otherwise. It sure made a difference when it was lowered 5 inches in the late '60s. Oh, but you pitched some in college, so you know better than Weaver, Ripken, and anybody who's ever pitched off a mound.
        OK, is this good enough for you...Ted Williams stepped in against Dalko in spring training in '58, took one pitch, left the cage in fear for his life, and said Steve was the fastest pitcher he ever saw. You know better than Ted? I guess you faced Feller and Trucks back in your youth?

        This isn't some Sidd Finch BS that somebody dreamed up or embellished, there are dozens of well known baseball people who have flat out said that Dalko was the fastest pitcher they ever saw. Pat Gillick played against him and still says that, for chrissakes.


        93.8 was what the device read. That's the only objective thing we know. Somehow we get from 93.8 to way over 100? I'm not buying it. And Pat Gillick still says what? That Dalkowski was the hardest thrower he ever saw or that he threw 110? Did Williams say that Dalkowski threw a lot harder than anyone he ever saw or simply was the fastest he ever saw? That makes a big difference. And if Earl Weaver or Cal Ripken, Sr. said that Dalkowski threw a lot harder than Ryan, and if a lot harder means anything over 1 mph, then, no, this guy who briefly pitched in college ain't buying it.

        First Weaver says Dalkowski threw a lot harder than Ryan, then quotes by Williams, Gillick and a few others are dug up saying they believe Dalkowski was the fastest they ever saw and suddenly we have a guy throwing the ball 110. I wonder how fast Bigfoot can throw.
        Last edited by evetts18; 07-25-2008, 09:56 AM.

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        • Feller Youtube

          Originally posted by OleMissCub View Post
          I suggest you watch the short clip I created of Feller pitching which shows him making Hank Greenberg look completely foolish. That must have been some SERIOUS gas. Definitely upper 90's.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAm5fwb1Psw

          Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Feller didn't have some serious stuff. He could've been the fastest of all time. I'm just saying that I don't see it on that clip. Also, by the way, I think he was a very underrated pitcher, better than Ryan and up there with the greatest right handers like Clemens and Seaver.

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          • When it comes to the the velocity of a fastball I tend to give little weight to first hand accounts when comparing two or more pitchers. The reason I give relatively little weight is because I believe it is next to impossible that any witness can say with any confidence that one pitcher thew harder another pitcher especially if their account of pitchers are many years apart. As for Weaver saying that Dalkowski threw "much harder" than Ryan I have problems with it. Now I'm more most people could tell the difference between an 80 mph pitch and a 99 mph pitch. However when we are talking about the difference between 100 mph and 103 mph a person cannot distinguish such a small difference in speed especially if they saw the two pitchers many years apart which is the case of Dalkowski and Ryan.
            Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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            • Originally posted by evetts18 View Post
              Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Feller didn't have some serious stuff. He could've been the fastest of all time. I'm just saying that I don't see it on that clip. Also, by the way, I think he was a very underrated pitcher, better than Ryan and up there with the greatest right handers like Clemens and Seaver.
              I wouldn't go that far. Compared to Clemens and Seaver, Feller had a serious lack of control. He walked as many as 208 batters in a season plus he also had a 194 walk season. That is a ridiculous amount of walks to give up.
              Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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              • Yes, but both walk totals came early in his career. The 208 in his first full season as a starter and the 194 right before he went off to the war. He then comes back in 1946 and gives up walks but then starts to settle down. Feller came into the league as a raw 17 year old kid and then missed 4 years of his development and prime to a war. If Feller starts off in the minors and then plays a normal career without a war breaking it up his control would look a lot better. On par with Seaver and Clemens? Probably not but it would be better.

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                • Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
                  Yes, but both walk totals came early in his career. The 208 in his first full season as a starter and the 194 right before he went off to the war. He then comes back in 1946 and gives up walks but then starts to settle down. Feller came into the league as a raw 17 year old kid and then missed 4 years of his development and prime to a war. If Feller starts off in the minors and then plays a normal career without a war breaking it up his control would look a lot better. On par with Seaver and Clemens? Probably not but it would be better.
                  Why did the Indians not give Feller any time in the minor leagues? Do you think his reduced effectiveness after 1947 was due to the large amount of innings he pitched in his early 20s? I wonder if Feller hadn't miss time to serve in WW II if he would have burned out at an earlier age.
                  Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

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                  • The scout who signed him then became "special assistant" (basically the GM) and he immediately transferreed him to the bigs. He had the stuff at an early age and had fanned 8 Cardinals in 3 innings during an exhibition game.

                    Before reporting to the Indians Feller reported to Slapnicka (Cleveland GM) that his arm was sore and that he was worried. Slapnicka called him up to the Indians so that the Indians could supervise and manager his training. He didn't want some bush league minor league team destroying the pitcher who Slapnicka thought was going to be the greatest pitcher of all time.

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                    • Originally posted by evetts18 View Post
                      93.8 was what the device read. That's the only objective thing we know. Somehow we get from 93.8 to way over 100? I'm not buying it. And Pat Gillick still says what? That Dalkowski was the hardest thrower he ever saw or that he threw 110? Did Williams say that Dalkowski threw a lot harder than anyone he ever saw or simply was the fastest he ever saw? That makes a big difference. And if Earl Weaver or Cal Ripken, Sr. said that Dalkowski threw a lot harder than Ryan, and if a lot harder means anything over 1 mph, then, no, this guy who briefly pitched in college ain't buying it.

                      First Weaver says Dalkowski threw a lot harder than Ryan, then quotes by Williams, Gillick and a few others are dug up saying they believe Dalkowski was the fastest they ever saw and suddenly we have a guy throwing the ball 110. I wonder how fast Bigfoot can throw.
                      I don't know the details of the 93.8 reading that was brought up, but D110 did mention that some say it was 99.8, with Steve's sister claiming it was the lower reading...I guess Steve doesn't remember. Feller registered 81mph at one of his tests...let's just pick that number and run with it, he would be lucky to throw 90 at best. FWIW, an article on the Hardball Times indicates that Dalko was also exhausted from trying to sneak a ball through that measuring device and took something off it to just get the whole thing over with...those who were there said it wasn't close to his best fastball, even on that day right after a start.
                      I never said that Dalko would show 110 on a gun or anywhere else...you said he might touch 100mph at best on a modern radar gun on a good day, and I'm saying that I believe that statement is totally inconsistent with the testimony of a great many baseball people who actually saw the man throw. Ted Williams said that Dalko was the fastest pitcher he ever faced and probably the fastest who ever lived...he didn't say he threw as hard as Feller and maybe a little more, he just flat out said he was the fastest. This from a man who would start thinking about Feller 3 days before facing him. The story is from a chance encounter in spring training, when Williams stepped into a cage after watching Dalko throw for a while. Steve was wild enough at that point that they were not taking the risk of him maiming a major league player in a spring training game.
                      If Weaver had been trying to say that Ryan could throw 103mph or whatever on a gun and Dalko could hit 104, that would be questionable. However, Earl, who was a tremendous major league manager and a wizard at using a pitching staff, said there was no comparison. I believe him. There was a ten year delta there, but I still trust a baseball lifer and genius like Weaver to be able to make that statement and not be so far off that Dalko actually couldn't even match Ryan's radar gun feats.
                      You read all the stories about Dalko throwing balls through metal backstop screens and outfield fences, completely out of baseball parks, so hard that he put an ump in the hospital after cracking his mask...I don't think that this was all made up or exaggerated. The man was a prodigy, plain and simple, and the people who saw him are still amazed by what he could do. Too bad Weaver didn't get him straightened out before his arm was about shot so we'd have some major league testimony about him.
                      "I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base." - Preacher Roe on pitching to Musial

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                      • Ah, evetts, thank you for treating me like a condescending jerk. I will return the favor...

                        "who's to say that the measuring device used for Feller was any more accurate. It was an Army device, but the government has been known to be wrong a couple of times."

                        Not surprisingly, you're completely wrong here. The device the Army used is called a photo cell chronograph. A chronograph is far more accurate than any radar gun on the planet. In fact, if you handloaded ammunition (as I do; I have other hobbies as well), you would realize that photo cell chonographs are A) still in use and B) are accurate to within thousandths of a foot per second. In fact, since you're suggesting that it was somehow tampered with, I'd like to know how. You can only adjust one of these devices for distance.

                        "And Pat Gillick still says what? That Dalkowski was the hardest thrower he ever saw or that he threw 110?"

                        He claims both, actually, but it's not as if you're going to take that seriously...

                        "Did Williams say that Dalkowski threw a lot harder than anyone he ever saw or simply was the fastest he ever saw?"

                        I guess "easily the fastest" and "faster than Feller" aren't going to do it for you.

                        "How do you know he started a game the previous day? Have you seen a box score or something?"

                        Actually, yes, I have...

                        "For all we know he rested every couple of minutes anyway."

                        Uh, no. According to Steve, his sister, and literally everyone there for the test, he was just winding and firing. He didn't rest...he was actually frustrated he couldn't get it over.

                        "Also, throwing off of flat ground vs. a mound doesn't make that much of a difference. I pitched a little in college and I can tell you that it just doesn't."

                        You believe that pitching in college makes you an expert on Steve Dalkowski? Hello? McFly? Ever read Adair's book on physics in baseball? You lose 1-2 mph off your fastball sans a mound.

                        "As for all of these people who supposedly have said that Dalkowski was the fastest they've ever seen, most, if not all of them saw him while they were first in the minor leagues (some were probably right out of high school)."

                        Yes, like Earl Weaver, who had played or managed professionally 11 years before he even saw Dalkowski (and that includes ST invites where he saw Major League pitchers' fastballs). And Ted Williams, who had only been playing since 1939...

                        Okay, but to respond to someone else in a civil way...

                        "However when we are talking about the difference between 100 mph and 103 mph a person cannot distinguish such a small difference in speed especially if they saw the two pitchers many years apart which is the case of Dalkowski and Ryan."

                        Not that many years apart. Weaver last sees Dalkowski in his prime (pre-injury) in Spring Training 1963. He first sees Nolan Ryan in Spring Training, 1966. Not that far apart, IMO, and Ryan was likely throwing pretty hard then. While one could second guess Andy Etchebarren (caught both pitchers over a decade apart and claimed Dalkowski was somewhat faster, but not a lot), I find it much more difficult to second guess Weaver. I should also throw in the theory of mine that not only was Dalkowski throwing regularly throwing 105-110 mph at 45 feet (and 103-105 at 60'6"), but he was also likely "sneaky fast." He started out his windup kinda slowly and then sped up after he dropped his leg.

                        "I don't know the details of the 93.8 reading that was brought up, but D110 did mention that some say it was 99.8, with Steve's sister claiming it was the lower reading...I guess Steve doesn't remember. Feller registered 81mph at one of his tests...let's just pick that number and run with it, he would be lucky to throw 90 at best. FWIW, an article on the Hardball Times indicates that Dalko was also exhausted from trying to sneak a ball through that measuring device and took something off it to just get the whole thing over with...those who were there said it wasn't close to his best fastball, even on that day right after a start."

                        Correct. Steve had to throw a pitch through *the same* photo cell chronograph you see in the Feller youtube video. As you can see, that's a small target for a guy who walked 12.88 per nine innings over his professional career. One reason it wasn't his best fastball was because Steve made the somewhat poor decision of just letting it rip from the get-go. The first pitch it actually registered wasn't even a fastball...Steve threw a changeup simply because he wanted to get it overwith. They told him to go back to throwing fastballs and whether he took something off it or not (Steve claims he did not), it registered within a few pitches. Aside from stretching a little, he wasn't throwing any warmup pitches at reduced velocity. Feller had warmed up. Incidentally, no one knows where the 99.8 reading came from; it was 93.8. As I said, there ARE a lot of myths about Steve out there. But then again, there's also a lot of truth.
                        Last edited by Dalkowski110; 07-25-2008, 11:42 AM.
                        "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.

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                        • Dalkowski

                          Originally posted by Dalkowski110 View Post
                          Ah, evetts, thank you for treating me like a condescending jerk. I will return the favor...

                          "who's to say that the measuring device used for Feller was any more accurate. It was an Army device, but the government has been known to be wrong a couple of times."

                          Not surprisingly, you're completely wrong here. The device the Army used is called a photo cell chronograph. A chronograph is far more accurate than any radar gun on the planet. In fact, if you handloaded ammunition (as I do; I have other hobbies as well), you would realize that photo cell chonographs are A) still in use and B) are accurate to within thousandths of a foot per second. In fact, since you're suggesting that it was somehow tampered with, I'd like to know how. You can only adjust one of these devices for distance.

                          "And Pat Gillick still says what? That Dalkowski was the hardest thrower he ever saw or that he threw 110?"

                          He claims both, actually, but it's not as if you're going to take that seriously...

                          "Did Williams say that Dalkowski threw a lot harder than anyone he ever saw or simply was the fastest he ever saw?"

                          I guess "easily the fastest" and "faster than Feller" aren't going to do it for you.

                          "How do you know he started a game the previous day? Have you seen a box score or something?"

                          Actually, yes, I have...

                          "For all we know he rested every couple of minutes anyway."

                          Uh, no. According to Steve, his sister, and literally everyone there for the test, he was just winding and firing. He didn't rest...he was actually frustrated he couldn't get it over.

                          "Also, throwing off of flat ground vs. a mound doesn't make that much of a difference. I pitched a little in college and I can tell you that it just doesn't."

                          You believe that pitching in college makes you an expert on Steve Dalkowski? Hello? McFly? Ever read Adair's book on physics in baseball? You lose 1-2 mph off your fastball sans a mound.

                          "As for all of these people who supposedly have said that Dalkowski was the fastest they've ever seen, most, if not all of them saw him while they were first in the minor leagues (some were probably right out of high school)."

                          Yes, like Earl Weaver, who had played or managed professionally 11 years before he even saw Dalkowski (and that includes ST invites where he saw Major League pitchers' fastballs). And Ted Williams, who had only been playing since 1939...

                          Okay, but to respond to someone else in a civil way...

                          "However when we are talking about the difference between 100 mph and 103 mph a person cannot distinguish such a small difference in speed especially if they saw the two pitchers many years apart which is the case of Dalkowski and Ryan."

                          Not that many years apart. Weaver last sees Dalkowski in his prime (pre-injury) in Spring Training 1963. He first sees Nolan Ryan in Spring Training, 1966. Not that far apart, IMO, and Ryan was likely throwing pretty hard then. While one could second guess Andy Etchebarren (caught both pitchers over a decade apart and claimed Dalkowski was somewhat faster, but not a lot), I find it much more difficult to second guess Weaver. I should also throw in the theory of mine that not only was Dalkowski throwing regularly throwing 105-110 mph at 45 feet (and 103-105 at 60'6"), but he was also likely "sneaky fast." He started out his windup kinda slowly and then sped up after he dropped his leg.

                          "I don't know the details of the 93.8 reading that was brought up, but D110 did mention that some say it was 99.8, with Steve's sister claiming it was the lower reading...I guess Steve doesn't remember. Feller registered 81mph at one of his tests...let's just pick that number and run with it, he would be lucky to throw 90 at best. FWIW, an article on the Hardball Times indicates that Dalko was also exhausted from trying to sneak a ball through that measuring device and took something off it to just get the whole thing over with...those who were there said it wasn't close to his best fastball, even on that day right after a start."

                          Correct. Steve had to throw a pitch through *the same* photo cell chronograph you see in the Feller youtube video. As you can see, that's a small target for a guy who walked 12.88 per nine innings over his professional career. One reason it wasn't his best fastball was because Steve made the somewhat poor decision of just letting it rip from the get-go. The first pitch it actually registered wasn't even a fastball...Steve threw a changeup simply because he wanted to get it overwith. They told him to go back to throwing fastballs and whether he took something off it or not (Steve claims he did not), it registered within a few pitches. Aside from stretching a little, he wasn't throwing any warmup pitches at reduced velocity. Feller had warmed up. Incidentally, no one knows where the 99.8 reading came from; it was 93.8. As I said, there ARE a lot of myths about Steve out there. But then again, there's also a lot of truth.


                          Here's the sort of thing your asking me to believe. The best sprinters in the world run the 100 meters in just under 9.7 seconds and probably, on average, run it in about 9.75 to 9.8 or so. However, suddenly some guy could come along who could consistently run the 100 meters in under 9.7 seconds and set the world record at 9.6 seconds, or maybe less. I don't believe that sort of thing is possible, no mater what Earl Weaver thinks.

                          One thing the radar guns over the last 20 years have told us, if nothing else, is that no one performs that far out of the norm. We know what the fastest pitchers throw and that the next really hard thrower who comes along isn't going to throw 107 or 108. He'll top out in the low 100's and probably not be able to sustain that for more than a couple of innings. You can bet on it.

                          By the way, don't be such a sensitive guy. This is all in good fun, isn't it?
                          Last edited by evetts18; 07-26-2008, 06:25 AM.

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                          • I don't even know if it is even humanly possible to throw higher than 103 or so. I know that some guns have picked up pitches that high before from Zumaya (I think), but I do think some radar guns are juiced a bit these days.
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                            • Originally posted by evetts18 View Post
                              Here's the sort of thing your asking me to believe. The best sprinters in the world run the 100 meters in just under 9.7 seconds and probably, on average, run it in about 9.75 to 9.8 or so. However, suddenly some guy could come along who could consistently run the 100 meters in under 9.7 seconds and set the world record at 9.6 seconds, or maybe less. I don't believe that sort of thing is possible, no mater what Earl Weaver thinks.
                              Actually if we use your analogy then according to that logic what did in fact happen in track would be an impossibility. Heading into the 90's 9.9 was the record for 100m at the end it was 9.79, now going into the 10's the record is down to 9.72. In 1988 the record was 9.93 and Ben Johnson came along and posted a 9.79.

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                              • Dalkowski

                                Originally posted by Ubiquitous View Post
                                Actually if we use your analogy then according to that logic what did in fact happen in track would be an impossibility. Heading into the 90's 9.9 was the record for 100m at the end it was 9.79, now going into the 10's the record is down to 9.72. In 1988 the record was 9.93 and Ben Johnson came along and posted a 9.79.

                                That's primarily because of better training techniques and nutrition. And the times get only marginally better, they move by 100's of a second, not 10th's of a second.

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