Art or Photo Credit: Art by Tom Forget
Bob Tewksbury keeps in mind the day well.
Mark McGwire had actually gotten here in Minnesota in the middle of his record-smashing 1998 project with the Cardinals. He had actually struck 36 crowning achievement in simply 73 video games, consisting of a monstrous shot off Twins pitcher Mike Trombley the night prior to.
The 37- year-old Tewksbury, on the other hand, remained in the swan tune of a great 13- year MLB profession. He had a curve and a fastball that usually remained in the mid-to-upper 80 s– possibly 90 miles per hour on an excellent day. … he likewise had another pitch.
[A version of this story originally ran in August 2020]
A kind of secret weapon he had actually established in the mid-1990 s and pulled out just when the timing was. What some would call a scrap pitch. An ultra-slow curve that came drifting in to players at a cartoonish 50 miles per hour.
” I remember I did it in San Diego in ’96,” Tewksbury informed MLB.com over the phone. “I tossed it to Willie McGee and he would not talk with me for the next 3 days.”
Tewksbury believed the pitch may likewise work versus a power player like McGwire, who delighted in fastballs. He would just toss it to him if he got the very first 2 batters out in front of him. He informed colleagues of his strategy, and they were more than thrilled when the time came in the top of the.
” I get the very first 2 men out and there’s this thunderous sound of steps originating from the clubhouse to the field to see me toss this pitch,” Tewksbury keeps in mind. “I might hear it on the mound.”
The Twins’ soft-throwing starter followed through on his pledge– baffling among baseball’s most monstrous crowning achievement players in the prime of his profession, not as soon as, however two times with– as his boy called it– “The Dominator.” The slowest pitch a pitcher can pitch: the eephus.
The eephus’ origins go far back in baseball time and can possibly best be comprehended from the Hebrew origins of the word. It equates to “absolutely nothing.”
Of course, it’s been called other names, too. The balloon ball, the Monty Brewster, the rainbow curve, the Bugs Bunny curve, the Super Changeup, the Soap Bubble (Vicente Padilla), the Fossum Flip (Casey Fossum), the McBean Ball (Al McBean), the Folly Floater (Steve Hamilton).
Whatever the name, they’re generally all the exact same– a sluggish, high-arcing pitch, normally in the 45-55- miles per hour variety, highlighted to amaze the batter searching for a 95- miles per hour fastball and leave him believing, “What in the hell simply taken place?”
Tewksbury, like numerous others who practiced the pitch, adjusted it on his own. It was something to contribute to his collection and make his fastball appear faster than it may’ve been. Rip Sewell, the male who made the eephus well-known, was really required into tossing it to conserve his profession.
After investing years and years in the Minor Leagues, Sewell captured on with the Pirates at the age of 31 and succeeded from 1938-’41– a 40-32 record, 3.58 ERA and MVP votes in the 1940 season. Then, in the winter season of 1941, he shot himself in the foot throughout a searching getaway. Sewell could not press off the mound with his best toe like he utilized to, and his fastball and curve suffered for it. He ended up establishing a brand-new pitch to combat his problems: a 25- foot high, back-spinning slow-ball. He would keep the joint and after that turn it towards home base with 3 fingers. Costs Phillips, a 19 th-century pitcher, was most likely the just other to ever toss something like it. That was 40 years prior to; Sewell had actually brought the eephus into the Modern Era.
Pittsburgh’s hurler explained how batter Dick Wakefield responded when he initially saw the pitch throughout an exhibit match in 1942.
” He began to swing, he stopped, he began once again, he stopped, and after that he swung and missed it by a mile. I believed everyone was going to fall off the bench, they were chuckling so hard.”
It possibly looked a little something like this.
After the video game, Sewell’s colleague Maurice Van Robays was the very first to coin the pitch an “eephus.” Press reporters asked what that implied and he stated, “Eephus ain’t nothin, which’s an absolutely nothing pitch.” (Efes is really how it’s spelled in Hebrew.)
That absolutely nothing pitch reanimated Sewell’s profession, and from his age-35 season in 1942 to his age-42 in 1949, he ‘d never ever been much better. He went 103-65 with a 3.36 ERA, consisting of back-to-back 21- win seasons in ’43 and ’44 Some players captured it and fired it back at him, while others questioned if it was even legal. Sewell was likewise an All-Star 3 times throughout that stretch and experimented with the toss versus Ted Williams throughout among those Midsummer Classics. It did not work out.
Although no one utilized it as typically as Sewell, lots of pitchers included the eephus to their toolbox post-1950 Some to terrific success, others not a lot.
Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez utilized it one a lot of times versus Alex Rodriguez in 2002, confessing postgame, “It’s possible it was an error.”
It’s possible it was an error
Bill Lee had an eephus, since of course he did. He called it the “area ball” or the “Leephus” and was even vibrant adequate to bring it out throughout a World Series Game 7 in1975 The Red Sox were up, 3-0, however not for long. They ‘d wind up losing the video game and the Series, continuing their long Fall Classic dry spell.
47- year-old Phil Niekro utilized it as soon as when he was experiencing chest discomforts on the mound and didn’t have the energy to toss anything else. Blended in with a knuckle-curve, it normally exercised quite well for him.
Satchel Paige had an eephus that left batters collapsing to the ground, pleading for grace. We’re simply not exactly sure whether that was the one he called the “Whipsy-Dipsy-Do” or “Wobbly Ball” or among the other numerous called pitches he had.
Besides Tewksbury’s fight with McGwire, among the other more well-known events of the eephus captured on tape needs to be Dave LaRoche’s LaLob to Gorman Thomas in 1981.
LaRoche established his lob on an attempt and utilized it to terrific success and excitement when he pitched for the Yankees in the early-80 s. The two-time All-Star kept turning it “a little slower and greater” up until he got it to an absurd 28 miles per hour. And throughout a video game at Yankee Stadium, LaRoche utilized his floater 3 straight times versus power-hitting Brewers outfielder Gorman Thomas– 2 of them for strikes. Would he do it a 4th time to attempt and get the strikeout? To the crowd’s pleasure and Gorman’s helmet-smashing disgust, he did. The outcome is among the very best baseball clips you’ll ever see.
Robin [Ventura] turned up … and informed Steinbach, ‘Tewks might require security to go to his automobile tonight due to the fact that Albert wishes to eliminate him.’
Somebody perhaps more mad than Thomas in ’81 was the infamously short-fused Albert Belle when he dealt with Tewksbury in1997 There does not appear to be any video of the exchange, however please, if you discover any, send our method.
Belle understood of Tewksbury’s eephus from previous conferences, and as Twins catcher Terry Steinbach remembers, the White Sox slugger was really practicing the timing of the pitch in the batting cages prior to the video game.
” During the pitcher and catcher conference prior to the video game, I stated, ‘Tewks, Albert’s over there sittin’ on your eephus pitch,'” Steinbach remembered to MLB.com. “And Tewks stated, ‘What?'”
Tewksbury chose to utilize his fastball in the very first 2 at-bats versus Belle, however then in the 3rd and last time, with a 3-1 count and a guy on very first, it was time to break out the “two-finger wiggle.”
” I tossed him an eephus curveball … and he swung so tough that he jammed himself and he struck a little appear to [second],” Tewksbury states. “Albert entered into the dugout and was looking me down. Robin [Ventura] showed up … and informed Steinbach, ‘Tewks might require security to go to his cars and truck tonight due to the fact that Albert wishes to eliminate him.'”
It was a much various response than McGwire’s, who sent out Tewksbury a note after the video game stating “he’s a sucker for that sort of things and he would’ve swung at it all the time.”
” Bob was upper 80 s, often he ‘d strike 90,” Steinbach states. “But to be able to toss a 50- miles per hour breaking ball without tipping it off, without slowing your windup down, it’s difficult to do. And he did it extremely well. … It’s an excellent pitch to put in the back of excellent players’ minds.”
Present-day stars have actually continued the eephus custom, tossing their parachuting floaters when players least anticipate it. Yu Darvish constantly has it in his back pocket, Clayton Kershaw utilizes it moderately and Zack Greinke has actually utilized it several times later on in his profession. Take the 53.5- miles per hour curve he lobbed in August 2020– getting a strike and laugh from batter Trent Grisham.
You need to believe that Rip Sewell, who began tossing the eephus since he mistakenly shot himself in the foot, would discover the ongoing and constant usage of his joke pitch quite funny.
A pitch that actually implies absolutely nothing became a great deal of something.