C. Baker is 17 years old and currently 3-0 with an ERA of .074; 9 strikeouts in 19 innings. At 5 feet, 2 inches and 120 pounds, Baker is kinda small to be a pitcher, but then again Royals left-handed reliever Tim Collins stands 5’7″.
Baker pitches for Durant High School in Plant City, Florida and last week tossed batting practice to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.
Baker’s first name is Chelsea and she throws a knuckle ball. Evan Longoria was impressed, so was David Price. They both whiffed at a few of her pitches. Chelsea learned the knuckler from former major league pitcher Joe Niekro. I think he was her little league coach before passing away.
There haven’t been too any knuckle ball specialists in the history of baseball. Wikipedia lists 27.That seems kind of low, but then again, when it comes to nothing but knuckleballs, maybe that’s right. I don’t think anyone really learns the pitch .They just get the grip and trust the wind or air conditioning or stillness.
Chelsea describes it as the flight of a butterfly; exactly how the French Canadians did in the late 1960’s with the arrival of the Expos. Une balle papillon-butterfly ball because it really has nothing to do with the knuckles. A pitcher digs their fingernail into the ball and flicks it in the air and the rest is anybody’s guess.
Chelsea is the second female knuckler to attract attention. Eri Yoshida, born in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan worshiped Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox and taught herself the pitch. She became more than a novelty. She got pretty good; played professional baseball.
It was just Independent league baseball and Yoshida didn’t light the world on fire; a 7.62 ERA in 78 innings, but from 2010-2012, she only allowed 81 hits and not surprising, walked 57 and beaned 28. But she did win three in a row to start the 2012 season for the Na Koa Ikaika Maui of the North American League, but then the knuckler apparently went everywhere but the strike zone.
She’s still pitching in Japan; for the Ishikawa Million Stars and in that the knuckle ball doesn’t wear and tear the arm, who knows where she will go. Same for Chelsea Baker. Baseball needs someone to continue the tradition. Channeling Bill Veeck!
I think R.A. Dickey of the Toronto Blue Jays is the only knuckler still active in the major leagues. I was hoping to see him match up against Carlos Gomez and the Brewers, but Dickey is not scheduled to start in the mini 2 game series.
Drew Hutchinson pitched the first game Tuesday afternoon and added to what’s turning out to be an excellent rookie season for him. He limited the Brewers to 3 hits over 7 innings and struck out 10. But the Blue Jays couldn’t do much against Marco Estrada. They hit the customary big flies off the MLB’s leader in home runs allowed, but both were solo shots.
That turned out to be enough. The Blue Jays added two more runs in the ninth inning and won 4-1.
The Brewers are 51-34.