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

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  • "I don't even know if it is even humanly possible to throw higher than 103 or so."

    Depends on the distance you throw at. Zumaya is timed at 45 feet with those off-the-charts, 105 mph readings. On a JUGS Radar gun...at 60'6", he likely throws about 99-100 mph.

    "I don't believe that sort of thing is possible, no mater what Earl Weaver thinks."

    Then you're wasting my time. Weaver saw Dalkowski and Ryan throwing at their fastest (if not best) within FOUR YEARS of each other. Fact is, even if there was a catcher who'd caught Dalkowski and Ryan within one year, you'd discount it. Even if Dalkowski managed to get a pitch over, you'd complain about the device being innaccurate like you did with Feller. But a parting thought unrelated to Steve Dalkowski.

    "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."

    The radar guns over the last twenty years haven't told us much at all. Joel Zumaya threw a pitch at 107 mph. Mark Wohlers hit 103-104 with regularity. Well, at 45 feet. Ironically, we probably agree that Steve could top off in the low 100's for a couple innings. But it's you who foolishly believe it's at 45 feet and I believe, far more convincingly, that he could do it at 60'6".

    "This is all in good fun, isn't it?"

    Nope, not this time. You have never made a single post outside this thread. Every one of your responses save one has been to mock me. Your only evidence provided to the contrary is that you pitched in college once, which oh so obviously has to make you an expert on the physics of baseball. In one post, you even sarcastically asked how fast Bigfoot could throw. You are a TROLL.
    "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.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by Dalkowski110 View Post
      "I don't even know if it is even humanly possible to throw higher than 103 or so."

      Depends on the distance you throw at. Zumaya is timed at 45 feet with those off-the-charts, 105 mph readings. On a JUGS Radar gun...at 60'6", he likely throws about 99-100 mph.

      "I don't believe that sort of thing is possible, no mater what Earl Weaver thinks."

      Then you're wasting my time. Weaver saw Dalkowski and Ryan throwing at their fastest (if not best) within FOUR YEARS of each other. Fact is, even if there was a catcher who'd caught Dalkowski and Ryan within one year, you'd discount it. Even if Dalkowski managed to get a pitch over, you'd complain about the device being innaccurate like you did with Feller. But a parting thought unrelated to Steve Dalkowski.

      "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."

      The radar guns over the last twenty years haven't told us much at all. Joel Zumaya threw a pitch at 107 mph. Mark Wohlers hit 103-104 with regularity. Well, at 45 feet. Ironically, we probably agree that Steve could top off in the low 100's for a couple innings. But it's you who foolishly believe it's at 45 feet and I believe, far more convincingly, that he could do it at 60'6".

      "This is all in good fun, isn't it?"

      Nope, not this time. You have never made a single post outside this thread. Every one of your responses save one has been to mock me. Your only evidence provided to the contrary is that you pitched in college once, which oh so obviously has to make you an expert on the physics of baseball. In one post, you even sarcastically asked how fast Bigfoot could throw. You are a TROLL.


      Sorry for the Bigfoot remark. I admit that one was over the top. Also, I didn't realize that your's was the only thread to which I've been posting.

      Hey, look, I'm just asking some fundamental questions. For example: (A) How do you know he pitched the previous day before being timed? Is this actually documented somewhere? (B) How do you know that he pitched continuously for 15 minutes before getting the ball through the machine? (C) It's fair to assume that he pitched off of flat ground, but how do we know he did? (D) How do you even know the effects of these things when put together? They would have no doubt have reduced the velocity of his fastball to some extent, but by how much? (E) How do you know the distance from which he threw into the machine? (F) What was the velocity recorded by the machine? There seems to be some confusion on that.

      I'm not arguing that Dalkowski didn't have a great fastball, otherwise the Orioles wouldn't have sent him to the Army facility to have his fastball clocked. Although, I wonder if they sent others, as well. But as far as Earl Weaver's (who I really like by the way) comments are concerned, Dalkowski appears to have been his special project. Don't you think that he might have been tempted to exaggerate just a little when talking about him? Also, I'm not sure that the other comments, when read on their own, indicate that Dalkowski was anything other than simply the hardest thrower these players believed they had ever seen. In other words, I don't think that they (Williams, Gillick, etc.) thought Dalkowski was in a league by himself.

      There's no need to go through it again. Because you're right, I'm not going to believe it. I think that you make the best case possible, but I just don't think that the evidence is strong enough.

      P.S. Here's a quote from Bobby Cox and/or Pat Gillick from an article on Dalkowski in the Dayton Daily News (4/29/07):

      Gillick, Cox (the Atlanta Braves' manager, who batted against Dalkowski) and others say "it was definitely over 100, perhaps 105."

      I can believe this, but you could say the same about Ryan or Zumaya.
      Last edited by evetts18; 07-27-2008, 10:42 AM.

      Comment


      • "For example: (A) How do you know he pitched the previous day before being timed? Is this actually documented somewhere? (B) How do you know that he pitched continuously for 15 minutes before getting the ball through the machine? (C) How do you know the distance from which he threw into the machine? (D) How do you even know the effects of these things when put together? (E) What was the velocity recorded by the machine? There seems to be some confusion on that."

        A) I know it because I've seen the boxscore. He pitched against the Reno Silver Sox (was with Stockton at the time) and was yanked in the sixth after walking 12 batters. I've also talked to Steve, and even he thought at the time it was kinda illogical to get him the next day after he started.

        B) Based on estimates from Steve and his sister. They said the 45 minute figures from Sports Illustrated's 1970 article on Steve had been exaggerated and that while he was struggling to get one over, it was more like "15 or 20 minutes, not 45."

        C) The distance was actually specified and recorded by the Baltimore Orioles. You can find that Harry Brecheen, the guy who asked for the test, wanted the same device that recorded Feller for a reason: it was about the width of home plate.

        D) This question is pretty fuzzy, but read any article by anyone from ASMI or Adair's book on physics in baseball and you 1) lose 1-2 mph from not throwing off a mound and 2) depending on who you are, you lose 5-7 mph off your fastball when it decelerates from 45 feet to 60'6". You lose about 30 mph from your hand to the plate; the area of most rapid deceleration is from your hand to the 45' marker.

        E) The velocity recorded was 93.8 mph at 60'6", which at LEAST translates to 99.8 mph at 45 feet.

        "Although, I wonder if they sent others, as well."

        Nope. The Orioles were actually quite reluctant to let Paul Richards and Harry Brecheen set the tests up and because Dalkowski just reared back and fired for fifteen minutes to no avail, they considered the tests a waste of time and a failure.

        "But as far as Earl Weaver's (who I really like by the way) comments are concerned, Dalkowski appears to have been his special project. Don't you think that he might have been tempted to exaggerate just a little when talking about him?"

        No. Absolutely not. And in fact, talk to Steve and if anyone was interested in getting Steve to the Majors, it was Paul Richards and Harry Brecheen. They acted through Weaver, who initially didn't even like Steve much, though was very impressed by his stuff from the get-go. The only reason one would get that impression about Earl Weaver is because back then, the Orioles were very hands off with regards to their pitchers. Steve Dalkowski essentially forced a change in that policy and the guy who best implemented it was Weaver (due to him already employing the hands-on approach he'd become famous for in the Majors).

        "In other words, I don't think that they (Williams, Gillick, etc.) thought Dalkowski was in a league by himself."

        Then there is clearly no way in hell you've ever spoken with Pat Gillick.

        "There's no need to go through it again. Because you're right, I'm not going to believe it. "

        So why the hell did you ask me a bunch of questions? And what exactly is your angle on this forum, other than to second guess me in the silliest ways possible?
        Last edited by Dalkowski110; 07-27-2008, 10:44 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.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by evetts18 View Post
          But as far as Earl Weaver's (who I really like by the way) comments are concerned, Dalkowski appears to have been his special project. Don't you think that he might have been tempted to exaggerate just a little when talking about him?
          Ok, truthfully, I don't have one sliver of knowledge about dalkowski, but I can say this in his defense: A manager doesn't just pick a favorite player if they don't have something special. there are a few famous cases of managers with pet players, but look at who they were: John McGraw was crazy for Christy Matthewson, Connie Mack had Rube Waddell, Clark Griffith had Walter Johnson. You think they loved these guys because they told good knock-knock jokes? Heck no, you don't become a manager's favorite unless they know you've got some serious special talent. I do think you're being a bit harsh with the incessant questions, you'll never get anywhere asking about every detail like that. I would say that Walter Johnson said it best when rating the fastest of the fastballers. (This isn't an exact quote) There isn't that much of a difference between a fast pitcher and the fastest pitcher, but that tiny difference makes a big difference.

          I'd say that guys like Zumaya, Feller, Dalkowski, Johnson (Walter) and Rusie could all throw with a top speed differential of about two mph. Once you get to 101, a guy throwing 102 isn't that big of a deal, you can barely get a bat around fast enough to make contact.

          Comment


          • Well-put. BTW, here's one of only a handful of period articles about Steve and both his wildness and speed. It appeared in Time Magazine in July, 1960...

            http://www.time.com/time/magazine/ar...9618-1,00.html

            Steve is referred to as "Steve Dalkowski Jr." because his father, Steve Sr., was a semi-pro and I believe briefly pro shortstop. Nobody called him Steve though...he was "Ratsy." If he played pro ball, both Steve and his sister claimed he anglicized his name. Steve thought he played as "Steve Dalko" and his sister wasn't sure either way.
            Last edited by Dalkowski110; 07-27-2008, 11:28 PM.
            "They put me in the Hall of Fame? They must really be scraping the bottom of the barrel!"
            -Eppa Rixey, upon learning of his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

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

            Comment


            • I guess we need to quantify what we mean when we say a guy "throws 100".
              The pitch that Ryan got his 100mph reputation for was measured crossing the plate. Feller's pitch just below 100 was measured the same way.
              Based on that, I firmly believe that Dalkowski would have been over 100mph at the plate (assuming he could get it there), and substantially higher on a gun reading. I don't see hitting 93+ at the plate without a mound on the night after a start and after spending quite a bit of time throwing pitches and trying to get a reading to be inconsistent with that...especially when people there said that ball didn't have much steam on it, compared to others that night. If Zumaya could touch 107 on a particular night on a particular gun calibrated who knows how, maybe Dalko could have touched 110 on that night on that gun...?
              Dalko was supposed to have thrown a ball from home over a fence 440 feet away on a dare...I wonder what the rough initial velocity on that would have been? I think that was supposed to have been in street clothes without a warmup (no wonder his arm blew out with abuse like that and the O's testing him right after a start).

              I guess I wonder how Ryan and Feller would have compared in reputation if they had just been firing 100% full steam pitches all over the place like Dalko did. Most pitchers are going make big adjustments if they keep throwing the ball 8 feet high, but Dalko didn't seem to have that usual feedback mechanism. Some accounts indicate that Weaver had Dalko taking a bit off the ball for control until he had a pitcher's count, and would then allow him to just let it fly...partly, I would assume, to intimidate the batter.
              Can't we send an email to Earl Weaver to ask him about this?!?!!?
              "I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base." - Preacher Roe on pitching to Musial

              Comment


              • "Dalko was supposed to have thrown a ball from home over a fence 440 feet away on a dare...I wonder what the rough initial velocity on that would have been? I think that was supposed to have been in street clothes without a warmup (no wonder his arm blew out with abuse like that and the O's testing him right after a start)."

                Nope. I asked him about that. He said he warmed up for it. I know he destroyed a mannequin with no warmup (as is mentioned in the period article in Time Magazine), but he did warm up for throwing it over the fence.

                "(no wonder his arm blew out with abuse like that and the O's testing him right after a start)."

                It was worse than that. The Orioles warmed him up twice as much as their average pitcher. They were convinced that if he were tired, the ball would finally sink. They also had him run two to three extra laps in the outfield before every start on the same logic. Steve supposedly had a rubber arm, but even rubber breaks if you put too much stress on it.

                "Some accounts indicate that Weaver had Dalko taking a bit off the ball for control until he had a pitcher's count, and would then allow him to just let it fly...partly, I would assume, to intimidate the batter."

                Partially true. Weaver didn't want him using the four-seam, or "rising" fastball (didn't actually rise, though due to his release point problems and speed, it sure must've been a hell of a scary illusion) on first pitches. Rather, he either wanted him to throw a slider or a two-seam fastball (which Steve referred to as his "sinking fastball" and said it "didn't go quite as fast" as the four-seamer) with that first pitch.

                "Can't we send an email to Earl Weaver to ask him about this?!?!!?"

                Now there's an email addy I'd love to have...
                "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.

                Comment


                • Thanks for the info, D110.
                  Did you publish anything based on your discussion(s) with Steve?

                  A few quotes from a Ron Shelton essay on Dalko which, unfortunately, seems to have a number of factual errors in it...I hope that the quotes are correct!

                  Ted Williams - "Fastest ever. I never want to face him again."
                  Harry "The Cat" Breechen - "The best arm in the history of baseball."
                  Cal Ripken Sr. - "Nobody else was close."
                  "I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base." - Preacher Roe on pitching to Musial

                  Comment


                  • My take is there have been guys around that could put it in 95+ (maybe Walter Johnson was the first, maybe even Amos Rusie, whatever).


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


                    It probably doesnt matter.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by HitchedtoaSpark View Post
                      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.
                      Yeah, that is a bit far fetched. I'd say the avg. would be a max of 5 miles slower. ANd likely less (maybe way less) than that.

                      Comment


                      • That's probably true for pitchers prior to 1890.

                        They weren't throwing it hard back then...they were supposed to throw the ball over the plate and let the defense work back then. Pitching didn't become a significant skill until the 1890s IMHO.

                        But quickly thereafter, guys figured out that if you threw it harder, you had more margin for error.

                        Comment


                        • Weren't very early pitchers required to throw the ball with a stiff arm and no wrist snap? Then there were a lot of arguments about whether pitchers were REALLY snapping their wrists, and that was dropped because there was no high speed video to settle the argument at the time , and then guys started bending their arms a little, then a lot, and finally it was all dropped.
                          I think that the batter could also signal whether he wanted a high or low pitch. Clearly, the emphasis was on getting a pitch for the batter to hit.
                          "I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base." - Preacher Roe on pitching to Musial

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Death to Crawling Things View Post
                            what I beleive is that there were probably less % of pitchers who could put above 90 overall.

                            But why? Why do you believe this? What is your argument?
                            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


                            • Originally posted by SABR Matt View Post
                              That's probably true for pitchers prior to 1890.

                              They weren't throwing it hard back then...they were supposed to throw the ball over the plate and let the defense work back then. Pitching didn't become a significant skill until the 1890s IMHO.

                              But quickly thereafter, guys figured out that if you threw it harder, you had more margin for error.
                              Baseball in the early days was constantly tinkering with the rules. Originally the pitcher had to deliver the ball underhanded with a stiff arm. But I'm sure that pitchers routinely ignored the "stiff arm" requirement and tried to whip the ball in with more speed. The rules were eventually modified to later allow sidearm and then overhand deliveries. While this was happpening the pitching distance was pushed back. The pitcher originally threw from a "box" with the front line just 45' away from home. This was moved to 50', and then in 1893 the modern pitching distance was established. This was a direct response to pitchers such as Amos Rusie and Cy Young, who both threw very hard. I would guess that by 1893, with no restrictions on the pitching motion, pitchers were able to throw as fast as today.

                              However, there were good reasons NOT to throw as hard as one could. Pitchers were expected to finish the game and had to pace themselves. And don't forget the catchers. While face masks appeared in the late 1870s the shin guards and chest protectors came much later. Catchers originally played several paces behing the plate and had to receive the pitch either on the bounce or very near the dirt. The difficulty of fielding a 90+ MPH pitch in the dirt should not be underestimated. Pitchers would have to take it easy so their catchers could survive the game intact.

                              The choice of pitchers to not throw as hard as possible should not be confused with the inability to to so. On reason Walter Johnson was able to throw fastballs all game long is because the catchers in his day had sufficient protection. His career nearly coincided with the introduction of shin guards.

                              Comment


                              • I think stevebogus has made a lot of good points.
                                I do think that the fact that the early pitchers didn't "stretch it out" on a regular basis would have tended to make their maximum speed just a tad slower than modern pitcher. If you trained for a sprint by running almost all long distances, your sprint time would probably suffer somewhat. If a pitcher didn't fire it up full speed very often, his full speed probably wouldn't develop as it would with more "exercise".
                                Probably not a huge effect, but I think that it must have been a factor. But, even Walter Johnson claimed that he threw full effort all the time as a very young pitcher.
                                "I throw him four wide ones, then try to pick him off first base." - Preacher Roe on pitching to Musial

                                Comment

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