Eephus Pitch Explained: Baseball’s Unusual Secret Weapon

Discover the fascinating history and mechanics of the Eephus Pitch, a unique and deceptive trick pitch that has left a lasting impact on Major League Baseball. Watch the video now!

Origins and Mechanics of the Eephus Pitch

The eephus pitch is a trick pitch that’s quite the oddball in the arena of Major League Baseball.

They say it all started with Rip Sewell, a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Rip, with a dose of creativity during the 1940s, crafted this high-arcing lob.

While the crowd first thought it might just be a one-off gag, the eephus became Sewell’s trademark and an All-Star spectacle.

Interestingly, the pitch’s peculiar name was reportedly coined by Sewell’s teammate, Maurice Van Robays.

When asked about what an eephus pitch was, Maurice might’ve joked that it ain’t nothin’, and just like that, the moniker stuck.

Mechanically speaking, an eephus pitch stands out for its high-arc and low velocity.

It’s an overhand delivery, but instead of the zip you’d expect from a fastball, it comes at the batter almost in slow motion, defying the standard pitch dynamics with a trajectory similar to a slow-pitch softball.

Key CharacteristicsEephus Details
VelocityExceptionally low
ArcHigh-arcing trajectory
OriginRip Sewell, 1940s
TeamPittsburgh Pirates
Notable Game1946 All-Star
FieldForbes Field

Sewell’s pitch caught hitters off guard—totally messing with their timing.

Legend has it, during the 1946 All-Star Game at Forbes Field, one of the most memorable eephus pitches sailed over the plate.

While some batters shook their heads, others, like Frankie Frisch, sometimes capitalised, turning the eephus’ predictability into a soaring homer.

Over time, the eephus remained a rare but entertaining tactic.

It’s a pitch that reminds batters and fans alike that baseball is not just about raw power, but also about finesse and surprise.

Just ask anyone who’s seen this loopy, leisurely pitch somehow strike out an unsuspecting hitter—they’ll tell you it’s a sight to behold.

Legacy and Memorable Moments

The eephus pitch in baseball is a testament to innovation and surprise on the mound.

These next sections recount landmark moments that have left a lasting imprint on the sport and its culture.

Iconic Eephus Throws in MLB History

Satchel Paige was one of the early adopters of the eephus, famously using it in the 1946 All-Star Game against Ted Williams.

Williams managed to hit a home run off Paige’s eephus, in a classic showdown of pitcher vs. slugger.

Another noteworthy eephus was thrown by Steve Hamilton of the Yankees, his “folly floater” baffling batters in the late 1960s.

There’s also Bill Lee, who brought his “Leephus,” or “space ball,” to the World Series. Dave LaRoche called his version the “LaLob,” adding to the array of uniquely named variations of the eephus across Major League Baseball history.

Yu Darvish and Clayton Kershaw have both flirted with eephus-like pitches in the modern era, though less frequently. Kershaw’s looping curveball often garners comparisons due to its drastic speed change when juxtaposed with his fastball.

Impact on Baseball and Culture

The eephus has transcended the mere realm of a pitch to become a symbol of playful deception.

In a world where fastballs reign supreme, the eephus, or as some call it, the “nothing pitch,” has a storied place as the antithesis of power; a slow, gravity curve that seems almost to hover in slow motion before dropping into the strike zone.

This pitch has influenced not only moments within the game but also baseball vernacular and media.

Terms like the “blooper pitch” and “Bugs Bunny curve” often refer to the eephus and speak to its whimsical nature.

It has been a favorite in exhibition games, where the likes of San Francisco’s McCovey Cove have seen these slow arcers turn into memorable splash hits, captivating fans.

The eephus remains a testament to baseball’s playful side, where sometimes slower can be just as effective as fast.

How Does the Eephus Pitch Compare to the Strikeout Symbol K in Baseball?

The Eephus pitch is a rare and deceptive pitch in baseball, while the “K” symbol in baseball represents a strikeout.

The Eephus pitch is slow and unpredictable, often catching batters off guard, while the “K” symbol is used to mark a strikeout on a scorecard, signifying a pitcher’s success in retiring a batter.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find answers to common curiosities about the eephus pitch, from its distinctive arc to its whimsical origins.

What’s the trick to throwing an eephus pitch?

The trick lies in the delivery; one must throw it with a high arc and significantly reduced velocity, giving it a trajectory that’s unexpected by the hitter.

Proper execution requires a blend of timing and finesse to throw batters off their game.

Can an eephus pitch still bamboozle batters in modern baseball?

Yes, despite hitters being trained for speed and power, the eephus can still be an effective surprise technique.

Its infrequent use and the stark contrast in speed can disrupt a batter’s timing.

What’s the story behind the unique name of an eephus pitch?

The name “eephus” has whimsical origins, coming from the Hebrew word “efes” meaning “nothing.” It was coined to describe a pitch with a leisurely approach—seemingly easy but cunning in its deception.

Are there any MLB players who’ve mastered the eephus pitch?

Throughout MLB history, several pitchers have been known to occasionally throw the eephus, with some like Rip Sewell making it a notable part of their repertoire.

Just how slow does an eephus pitch go?

An eephus pitch typically moves at a lethargic pace, often ranging between 45-55 mph.

This starkly contrasts the average MLB fastball speed, adding to its surprising nature.

Why do hitters often struggle against an eephus pitch?

Hitters struggle because the eephus pitch disrupts their rhythm.

Accustomed to fastballs and changeups, the significant drop in velocity and the unusual trajectory make it challenging to time and hit effectively.