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  • Documenting clocking intents

    Hello,

    I'm trying to reconstruct all clocking intents since that of Walter Johnson and “Nap” Rucker in 1912 up to that of Nolan Ryan in 1974. Mainly, I'm looking for reports written by witnesses. Not interviews, not hearsay, unless they can help me trace original reports. Through the internet I have collected a great deal of documented facts, but I feel I have already depleted its open resources. I'm missing, for example, a transcript of the article Tom Meany supposedly wrote for Look Magazine on Bob Turley's clocking. Also, I don't have much detail on the tests carried out in Miami, in 1960.

    Here is one report on Walter Johnson clocking in 1912. It looks to me that W.J. Macbeth, the guy who wrote this article, witnessed the event, so I tend to believe things happened as he reported them. This report differs somewhat from other reports I've read in other treads of this forum, which sources I would like to know.

    Several things make this event -and this article- outstanding. The article begins: "Science has stroke at last to the very best of the base ball profession." So I believe this to be the first pitching speed clocking made in a more or less “scientific” fashion and the debut of the chronograph as the device of choice.

    Later it reads "...[the ball] travels at least at 125 feet per second and in many instances, doubtless, more." This implies that the speed they got seemed be high enough for it to be accepted as very fast, after all they did not have any prior reference, but also, indicates that Johnson did not look to the writer as making a great effort to reach that speed, therefore his inference that Johnson could “doubtless” throw faster. This idea is reinforced at the end, where he reports that Rucker "...was not satisfied that he had developed the speed of which he is capable."

    The author also indicates the obvious task this method could be put to use when he writes: "Wherefore there need be no more argument as to the speed of the pitchers. The gun factories should now form an alliance with the base ball magnates." History tell us that “the moguls” did not allied with the gun factories but with the military, and most of the next tests would be carried on at their sites or by them. But, more interestingly, we now know that since, at least, the beginning of the last century, it was recognized the value of a device capable of measuring the speed of pitchers as a talent detector: "If the words of any scouts should be doubted as to the promise of new material the mogul could journey with the prospect and the scout to the testing machine." So there is no doubt as to what such an alliance was looking for. No wonder then, detecting talent is the main use given to Radar Guns today.

    I hope to find some guys in here with some documents of their own, and or with the time and the desire to do some research and set the record straight. If you own a public library card, then you have a wider set of resources via the Internet, and you can provide this thread with verifiable information.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Mister_D; 08-06-2010, 02:29 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Mister_D View Post
    Hello,

    I'm trying to reconstruct all clocking intents since that of Walter Johnson and “Nap” Rucker in 1912 up to that of Nolan Ryan in 1974. Basically reports written by witnesses. Not interviews, not hearsay, unless they can help me to trace actual witnesses. Through the internet I have collected an important deal of documented facts, but I feel I have already depleted the internet, the open resources I mean. I'm missing, for example, a transcript of the article that Tom Meany supposedly wrote for Look Magazine on Bob Turley's clocking. Also, I don't have much detail on the tests carried out in Miami, in 1960.

    For example, here is one report on Walter Johnson clocking in 1912. You may notice that this story is a little different of what it has been said on that event in some threads in here. Well, this guy was there!

    I hope find some guys in here with the time, the desire and a public library card willing to research an set the record straight.
    I don't know about time, but I think Bill Burgess has everything else.
    Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
    Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge

    Comment


    • #3
      Hello RuthMayBond.

      Thank you. I already contacted Bill Burguess and I'm sure he will share with us whatever he feels is relevant to this thread.

      Comment


      • #4
        The Pitching Speed Meter

        I guess most of you are familiar with this article: The Fastest Pitcher in Baseball History, in which the pitching speed meter is described. It quotes an Associated Press article published on June 6 of 1939 that in a paragraph reads: "John A. Crawford of the Cleveland Plain Dealer thought the idea would be useful in selection of pitching and other talents. President Alvin Bradley of the Cleveland Indians agreed and Rex D. McDill, Cleveland electronics engineer, built the machine." So it seems to me that the “talent detector machine” wasn't widely accepted as an important tool to recruit new players, but that every now and then, some “illuminated” came up with the idea and tried it. No wonder why, although the radar gun for use in baseball was invented in 1975, it wasn't until the mid 80's that it was widely used by scouts to time prospects.

        This machine, the first made especially for baseball, was basically a photoelectric chronograph with some clever additions. We can see the big dial scale to automatically show the speed in feet per second and a small hole under the entering window for returning the balls. Probably it was not perceived as practical and/or accurate by the team owners, because nobody ordered one....

        On this device, Atley Donald was clocked at 139 fps or 94.77 mph on August 30 of 1939. I do not have but second hand reports of this event, so if you know a first hand report, please let me know.

        By the way, I find it paradoxical that Feller wasn't clocked officially with this machine, although it was set up in Cleveland, and it was functioning there for several months. In the Baseball-almanac article referenced above, a quote from the Richmond newspaper says that ' "unofficially," Bob Feller of Cleveland threw three balls into the meter from a distance of 20 feet. The best mark he recorded was 119 feet.' Feller recollection is different. In an interview for the Baseball Digest in 1976 , he claimed that “I threw [….], point blank as hard as I could and clocked 139 mph.” Since the device measured in feet per second, he probably got the units wrong and his speed was 139 fps or 94.77mps. Same as Donald!
        Last edited by Mister_D; 07-25-2010, 12:42 PM.

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        • #5
          On August 20 of 1946 Feller was clocked at 98.6 mph



          Rapid Robert was timed in Washington, just before a game between his team and the Senators. He threw five pitches into a Lumiline Chronograph, from Aberdeen Proving Ground. Even though this event is pretty well known and documented, there is no agreement in the sources as to which pitch was the fastest. Some say it was the first one, and other say it was the third one. Also, when Bob himself tells the story, he says his speed was 107.9 mph. I think he says so because he has read estimates for the speed at release point reporting that number, which therefore stuck in his memory.

          I believe this experiment was flawed. This device detects the shadow of the ball as it passes through the two screens by means of very sensitive fotoelectric cells, which first start and then stop a timer. Once the time the ball took to travel the 5 feet between the screens is known, its average speed is easily calculated. But I wonder how could these electronic cells “see” the shadow of the ball while about a dozen cameras where flashing them. My guess is that they couldn't, and somebody came up with a number which pleased everyone.
          Last edited by Mister_D; 07-14-2010, 06:23 PM.

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          • #6
            Bob Turley clocked for the first time

            Reportedly, “Bullet” Bob Turley was clocked twice. The second time was in Miami in 1960 and I will post about that in the future. The first time it happened might have been in Baltimore in 1954, when he played on the Orioles. He says he picked up his nickname “bullet” in Baltimore not because of his speed, but because he was timed there with a device used to time bullets from Aberdeen Proving Ground. But I've found an article published on the Baltimore Sun and dated on December 19, 1953, in which he is called “Bullet” Bob Turley. I also found this article published by Time Magazine on May 24 1954, in which he is compared to Bob Feller for speed. In it, he also is called “Bullet” Bob, and there isn't any reference to his fast ball having been clocked, so with all probability it hadn't happened yet. So the fact is that he got his nickname because of his throwing speed and before his first clocking, which may or may not had occurred in Baltimore in 1954.

            Some sources refer that he was timed in 1958, but that is incorrect with all certainty, because I have found reports of him having been clocked with a “modified oscillograph” at 94,2 mph in a national magazine from April of 1957.

            Regarding the device supposedly used: a “modified oscillograph”, I have found nothing about it. I believe the device in question might have been instead a “modified illuminator”, which was, in fact, a kind of radar gun. I believe the original reporter misnamed it, and from there, everybody else did.

            Besides what Turley recalls in some interviews, -most of them, recent ones-, I don't have nothing but second hand references. I have, however, the dates of some Look Magazine issues from that period that mention his name and that may have information regarding his clocking:

            April 20 1954
            July 26 1955
            May 29 1956
            October 14 1958

            If you can, check them out, to see if any them carries the article Tom Meany wrote on him and that Bob recalls, with admirable modesty, as being the first who called him "Bullet".
            Last edited by Mister_D; 07-26-2010, 11:01 AM.

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            • #7
              The Dalkoswki Affair

              Steve Dalkowski has to be, with no doubt, the most written about legend who didn't quite make it. His feats are found in thousands of articles and dozens of books. This thread, of course, couldn't be the exception.

              I believe that, like with all myths, most of what is written about him is exaggerated and some of the events more frequently repeated are simply made up. For example, I'm sure the Ted Williams incident never happened. One of the hundreds of reports of the incident, that supposedly happened in 1958 during spring training, can be found in Bill Madden book[1]. According to him, Dalkowski was throwing batting practice and "Williams could no longer resist the temptation to grab a bat and step into the cage.[...]Dalkowski went into his delivery, raising his right leg and, in an instant, the ball was in the catcher's glove, unseen, unheard, untouched. Williams looked back and walked out of the cage."

              This is how Dalkowski remembers the incident, according to Madden: "I wasn't thinking about trying to strinking him out. I just didn't want to hit him. I threw him more than one pitch, and when one of them kinda took off, he put up his hand and yelled, 'I'm gettin' out.'"

              Madden recognizes that: "Thirty years later, Williams said he couldn't recall the incident."

              This story just doesn't make any sense at all. In 1958 Dalkowski was a 19 year old kid on his second year as a professional player and without any control whatsoever. Williams was a 39 year old veteran who had already put the numbers to be in the HOF. Dalkowski was wild, very wild -and his speed made him very dangerous too. So, he was not the kind of pitcher anybody would face for pleasure. When facing Dalkowski, batters knew they were risking their careers and possibly their lives, so they didn't face him if they didn't have to. And, Williams, certainly, didn't have to.

              Now, let us believe that this guy, whose pitches were out of the strike zone about 75% of the times, was designated by his manager to pitch batting practice. Wouldn't he pitch only to his own teammates and not to the other team players? And at any rate, shouldn't he pitch so that batters could hit the ball? After all, it was batting practice. So the situation, as depicted, is rather absurd, I believe.

              But, these are just opinions, and of course, they are subject to debate. How about some facts? In 1958 the Red Sox trained in Sarasota, FL, while the Orioles trained in Scottsdale, AZ. Orioles did move to Miami, FL, the next year but it so happened that the Red Sox also moved to Scottsdale, AZ. So, they weren't both in Florida for spring training until 1966, at which time, both, Dalkowski and Williams had retired.

              The other event much written about, and the reason Dalkowski is on this thread, is his speed clocking. On June 5, 1958, Steve was taken to Aberdeen Proving Ground, in Maryland to have his speed timed. Frank Cashen covered the feat for the Baltimore News-Post, while James Kelmartin photographed it. Pitching coach Harry Brecheen also was there. The measuring device was a sky screen chronograph, which is designed to be used outdoors. So I believe the experiment was carried on in a baseball field, mound included. Also, because it dealt with the media and the military besides Dalkowski and his pitching coach, it surely had been programmed ahead of time, so I do not believe he had pitched the day before as reported, at least, not in excess. But these inferences are academic, since Dalkowski was not able to pitch over the screens at maximum speed. Years later Brecheen and Kelmartin were interviewed about the event. Brecheen said that in his opinion he threw some at 95-96 mph, while the photographer's “expert” opinion was that he threw some balls at more than 100 mph, the problem was that none of those missiles passed over the narrow field of the sky screens. The speed the readers of the Frank Cashen article saw in the Baltimore News-post the next day was ”some 130 feet per second”, a little inflated translation of the 85.6 mph he officially got. However, the speed that was reported back to the club teammates was around, or more than,100 mph. Why the lie? Among other things, because it was better for the business to have a 100+ mph than an 80 something thrower. This lie turned out to be one of the most widely believed and repeated, after all, he was known to be fast, very fast. I think this article is one of the best documented on Dalkowski. It is the only one, I found, that quotes a first hand source.

              I have found no evidence that he had been clocked at any other time or place.

              If you know first hand reports that contradict, or complement this post, post them now or forever keep your peace...

              **Update**
              I just learned that Dalkowski110, who has carried out a great deal of research on his eponymous, had practically demonstrated that the Ted Williams incident never happened. In this post, his testimony.
              **

              [1] Bill Madden: My 25 Years Covering Baseball's Heroes, Scoundrels, Triumphs and Tragedies
              Last edited by Mister_D; 08-07-2010, 07:44 AM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Turley's Pitch Goes 94 M.P.H.

                That's the title of the article published by the The Sun, from Baltimore, Md., describing the Turley`s clocking. It came out May 13, 1954 on page 23. It can be found through ProQuest, and it was retrieved for me by a very nice librarian from Maryland I contacted through the service they offer via Internet. Isn't it great?

                However, the article is very short. It didn't mention the sponsor and It didn't describe the measuring device, it just said that it was "one of those complicated electronic devices that measure the speed of a pitch."

                Also, it didn't report but the integer part of the 94.2 mph speed that can be found in other sources. But it let us know some facts :
                • The test was on Wednesday May 12 of 1954 at Baltimore Stadium with spectators watching.
                • He had served 104 pitches on a game on Sunday. ( I did not know that by then, they already counted the pitches...)
                • That speed was registered "on about his twenty-fifth pitch."
                • The first few pitches didn't registered "because of technical difficulties."
                • Turley had it difficult to "get the ball into the measuring zone, which is considerably smaller than the strike zone."
                • He said : "I believe I could throw 100 miles an hour."

                Through the Baseball Reference I found that :
                • The Orioles had that day off.
                • He had won that game on Sunday. Actually, he won a great game: 2-1, 10 innings, 5K, 1BB, 0ER and with only 104 pitches...Amazing!
                • After this, he pitched on Friday and won again, but "only" pitched 8 innings.

                Still, we don't have details on the device, but we know it looked so complicated, the writer did not bother describing it. Isn't there anybody with anything on this device?
                Last edited by Mister_D; 07-28-2010, 07:19 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  You probably also want to contact user dalkowski110
                  Mythical SF Chronicle scouting report: "That Jeff runs like a deer. Unfortunately, he also hits AND throws like one." I am Venus DeMilo - NO ARM! I can play like a big leaguer, I can field like Luzinski, run like Lombardi. The secret to managing is keeping the ones who hate you away from the undecided ones. I am a triumph of quantity over quality. I'm almost useful, every village needs an idiot.
                  Good traders: MadHatter(2), BoofBonser26, StormSurge

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Art Fromme Event

                    In this post by Bench 5 there is a nice picture of Art Fromme being measured. I don't have anything on this event, yet.
                    Last edited by Mister_D; 07-14-2010, 06:51 PM.

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                    • #11
                      In case you haven't found it already there was a good article about Nolan Ryan's record-setting measurements at Baseball Analysts:

                      http://baseballanalysts.com/archives...bering_the.php

                      Regarding your doubts about the Feller measurements, without knowing more about the measuring device I think it is presumptive to think that flashbulbs would affect it. My own guess is that, in order to detect a swiftly moving and mostly white baseball, the lights illuminating the photocells would have to be very intense and focused directly on the photocells. Remember that the "shadow" being detected is actually a photocell "looking" at white horsehide, which is already illuminated by ambient light. Stray light from a flashbulb wouldn't be likely to have much of an effect.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by stevebogus View Post
                        In case you haven't found it already there was a good article about Nolan Ryan's record-setting measurements at Baseball Analysts
                        Hello Stevebogus. Now I know I have 2 readers! I had the article on Ryan which I think is a very good piece. Thank you.

                        Regarding your doubts about the Feller measurements, without knowing more about the measuring device I think it is presumptive to think that flashbulbs would affect it.
                        But I have researched on the different kinds of chronographs. For example, the specifications on the Sky Screen chronograph call for it to be used outdoors, with diffusers the bright days and without them the cloudy days. It can be used indoors as long as the room is lit by incandescent lights, not by fluorescent lights because their flickering can trigger the device. The lumiline chronograph specifications, it is true, do not forbid its use in the presence of fluorescent lights, but I don't think the engineers could have guessed an instance in which the test was going to be photographed by a dozen of cameras with flashbulbs, practically at the same time. Why? Because....

                        My own guess is that, in order to detect a swiftly moving and mostly white baseball, the lights illuminating the photocells would have to be very intense and focused directly on the photocells.
                        The virtue of the lumiline bulb is that it is an “incandescent lamp with a long filament structure made to illuminate an area in a linear fashion” which is the requirement for the functioning of the device. What the photo sensors require is to be illuminated by a steady , not necessarily an intense, light. The light of flash bulbs are way more intense without a doubt. To be graphic, you can stare a lumiline bulb without being flashed. But, you can check the video yourself. Do you see a brighter area inside the chronograph? I don't. In fact, if it was brighter, the catcher would be in trouble, because he wouldn't be able to see Feller's throw.

                        Remember that the "shadow" being detected is actually a photocell "looking" at white horsehide, which is already illuminated by ambient light. Stray light from a flashbulb wouldn't be likely to have much of an effect.
                        One mechanism I can imagine is as follows: the device is set, then the ball is thrown and eventually goes through the first screen where it is detected correctly. Now, a dozen of lights from the cameras shine through the device, some of them, close enough in time, add up and excite the sensors of the second screen to a higher level of brightness. But this light, almost immediately fades, the sensors detect the drop of the level of brightness and trigger the timer: the speed is "measured". One instant later, the ball actually crosses the second screen, but this fact is discarded. The time so obtained is less than it should have been and the calculated speed is higher. That's one scenario.

                        Other way of malfunctioning is that each flashing of the cameras set and reset the device repeatedly while the ball traveled between the two screens and no measurement with any sense could be made. That's what I suppose it happened.
                        Last edited by Mister_D; 07-19-2010, 08:12 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Meet the “Pitchometer” and the “Mister Fast Ball Contest”

                          There are two things called “Pitchometer” as applied to baseball. The most recent one was a clock to measure time between pitches. This very nice article on Sport Illustrated said about it :

                          According to the rules, when nobody is on base, the pitcher is supposed to deliver the ball within 20 seconds after he receives it. If you can tell me when an umpire last called that one, you win a free trip to Leo Durocher.
                          We had a timer built right into the scoreboard—-the Pitchometer. (It is well to keep the nomenclature simple and to the point. Save the cute and clever for the gag itself.) The Pitchometer was set up to tick off the seconds for us. When the hand hit the 20-second mark it would actuate a siren that was guaranteed to knock the pitcher's hat off and startle the boys in the downtown pool hall. With luck, it would even call the umpire's attention to the violation of the rule.


                          But, for this thread, we care about the first one to appear, which was described in The Baseball Digest in 1951.

                          This was the second device built especially to time baseballs, although it was also used to measure the speed of arrows, golf balls, tennis balls, etc.

                          It was used in Philadelphia in the “Mr. Fast Ball” contest since 1949 up to the mid '50s. In 1953, a similar contest began in Milwaukee. Although it didn't seem to have carried that name, it was sponsored by the same organization, and ran for 4 years, at least. In both events, thousands of boys of all ages threw through the device for several days each summer. The winners usually were clocked in the high eighties.

                          The Philadelphia contest is historically important, because it was the very first intent, for a major league club, to systematically detect pitching talent with the help of a machine: at least the winners of 1949, Jack Meyer and 1950, Lance Robinson were signed by the Phillies, and the first kid made the majors with them in 1955.

                          I don't know if any of the winners in Milwaukee were signed by the Braves or any other team.
                          Last edited by Mister_D; 07-26-2010, 11:07 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Bob Feller's clocking revisited: Did he rehearse?

                            The Bob Feller event occurred on August 20, 1946. The day before, his team had the day off, but rehearsing before a pitching date is, of course, out of the question.

                            The previous date the Indians were in Washington was on July 21, and he had pitched there the day before, so it doesn't look to me like a good time for him to do anything either, with his arm in need of some rest. They could have possibly tested the device with Feller when he pitched, on the 20th, after he had warmed up and before the game, just as he did for the actual clocking. But in that case he wouldn't have thrown 20 something pitches through the machine, as the story goes, right? And to calibrate a device which is to be disassembled, moved and have stored for a month before being actually put to work does not make any sense, does it?

                            Actually, what makes sense is that the day of the test, once they had set up the thing over the plate, anybody with an arm would have thrown some balls through the chronograph to have it tested and calibrated. Had the technicians needed a minimum of speed, a Senator pitcher could have done the job; after all, the show was run by their owner. So, common sense tells me the rehearsal never happened.

                            However, since this threat is about documentation, Feller said in one of his books that he was informed of the event by Senators owner, Clark Griffin, that same evening. He had already learned about it before, through the newspapers, because they had been promoting the event for a week. He was upset for not being consulted and asked the Senators' owner $1000, because, among other things, he wasn't his boss. They compromised at $700 and Feller obliged. I believe this account because it makes sense. Moreover, according to this book, the incident was publicly known some days later, and as Feller position wasn't properly understood by the people, it made him lose some popularity.
                            Last edited by Mister_D; 08-14-2010, 08:01 AM.

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                            • #15
                              Herb Score, the man.

                              I hadn't heard of Herb Score until I started this research, and then, all I knew up to now, was that he was fast, and he had been in a clocking event. Looking for more facts concerning this thread, I found this article concerning his passing and I learned some facts about the man.

                              He was one of six pitchers who were clocked in Spring Training, 1960 in Miami, by means of high speed cameras filming at 50 frames per second. The pitchers and their speeds were in mph:
                              • Steve Barber 95.55
                              • Don Drysdale 95.31
                              • Sandy Koufax 93.20
                              • Ryne Duren 91.16
                              • Herb Score 91.08
                              • Bob Turley 90.75

                              I have no first hand reports on this event yet. The pitchers involved don't seem to recall the event, except for Barber, who was a rockie and "won" the test. That may be reason the others chose to forget it
                              Last edited by Mister_D; 07-26-2010, 11:09 AM.

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