It took me a day to learn [the knuckleball] and a lifetime to learn how to throw it for a strike.”
This quote, by pitcher and coach Charlie Hough, is the best way to understand baseball’s most baffling and mysterious pitch. Not even the best practitioners of the art of throwing a knuckleball know where it is going most of the time. As a pitch that floats and comes into the plate in what appears to be slow motion, it is miraculous that those who employ the pitch don’t get creamed all over the park by batters who seem to know that it’s coming.
Including interviews with Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, former All-Stars Wilbur Wood and Tim Wakefield, as well as other famed knuckleballers, Lew Freedman (Clouds over the Goalpost, A Summer to Remember), breaks down the history of this infamous pitch, which it seems can be traced back to Chicago White Sox pitcher Ed Cicotte, as well as its effect on baseball as a whole.
With pitcher R. A. Dickey, who rejuvenated his career from castoff to 2011 Cy Young Award winner, the knuckleball is still a topic of conversation in the sport, and it continues to be one of the many marvels of our national pastime.
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Lew Freedman is the author of nearly sixty books on sports, including Clouds over the Goalpost, The Original Six, and A Summer to Remember, and is the winner of more than 250 journalism awards. A veteran sportswriter, Freedman was formerly a staff writer for the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as other papers, and lives in Columbus, Indiana.