Once upon a time in baseball pitchers threw underhand. It was the law. Then in 1884, all restrictions on delivery were removed, but that didn’t turn pitchers into obedient little beavers.
The curve ball is believed to be invented in the 1870’s. It too was initially outlawed. The authorities were either against anything a bit out of the ordinary or concerned about a pitcher’s arm. It’s not natural to throw a baseball over 100 times in the same motion. Or it is natural like throwing a rock at a saber toothed tiger is natural, but the repitition results in all kinds of aches and injuries. Hello advil, greenies, hydromorphone, steroids!
There was nothing Johnny law could do. Pitchers carried on their experiments in the shadows and were eventually free to throw whatever they could invent, except the evil spit ball. That was banned in 1920, but balls continue to be rubbed up with foreign substances till this very day.
The addition of pine tar or spit to a baseball or scuffing it with a nail file or whatever a pitcher can fit in his back pocket gives the ball additional movement while in flight. So does applying vaseline secretly from under the bill of a cap. It’s performance enhancing and solid strategy when the 11th commandment is followed. Thou shalt not get caught.
Gaylord Perry was the big don of the spitball and he made it into the hall of fame in 1991.
Different pitches have had all kinds of funky names over the years; the fade away, drop off, slider, screw, fork, knuckler, spitter, 2-seemer, knuckle curve, 4 seemer, slow change, circle change, cutter, slurve, junk ball, etc. etc. etc. and in Japan there are gyro and shuuto balls.
Pitched balls slide, curve, sink, rise, cut, change speeds, float like butterflies, and every once in a while a pitch is lobbed towards the batter like a tossed grenade in slow motion. It’s called the
Euphus eephus pitch and is credited to Rip Sewell from the 1940’s. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, people stand up and take notice. I wonder what’s next?