In baseball, the curveball is a type of pitch thrown with a characteristic grip and hand movement that imparts forward spin to the ball, causing it to dive as it approaches the plate. Varieties of curveball include the 12-6 curveball and the knuckle curve. Its close relatives are the slider and the slurve. The "curve" of the ball varies from pitcher to pitcher.
The expression "to throw a curveball" essentially translate to introducing a significant deviation to a preceding concept.
The curveball is gripped much like a cup or drinking glass is held. The pitcher places the middle finger on and parallel to one of the long seams, and the thumb just behind the seam on the opposite side of the ball such that if looking from the top down, the hand should form a "C shape" with the horseshoe pointing in towards the palm following the contour of the thumb. The index finger is placed alongside the middle finger, and the other two extraneous fingers are folded in towards the palm with the knuckle of the ring finger touching the leather. Occasionally some pitchers will flare out these two fingers straight and away from the ball to keep them clear of the throwing motion. The curveball and slider share nearly identical grips and throwing motion.
The delivery of a curveball is entirely different from that of most other pitches. The pitcher at the top of the throwing arc will snap the arm and wrist in a downward motion. The ball first leaves contact with the thumb and tumbles over the index finger thus imparting the forward or "top-spin" characteristic of a curveball. The result is the exact opposite pitch of the four-seam fastball's backspin, but with all four seams rotating in the direction of the flight path with forward-spin, with the axis of rotation perpendicular to the intended flight path much like a reel-type mower or a bowling ball.
The amount of break on the ball depends on how hard the pitcher can snap the throw off, or how much forward spin can be put on the ball. The harder the snap, the more the pitch will break. Curveballs primarily break downwards, but can also break toward the pitcher's off hand to varying degrees. Unlike the fastball, the height of the ball's flight path arc does not necessarily need to occur at the pitcher's release point, and often peaks shortly afterwards. Curveballs are thrown with considerably less velocity than fastballs, because of both the unnatural delivery of the ball and the general rule that pitches thrown with less velocity will break more. A typical curveball in the major collegiate level and above will average between 65 and 80 mph, with the average MLB curve at 77 mph.
From a hitter's perspective, the curveball will start in one location (usually high or at the top of the strike zone) and then dive rapidly as it approaches the plate. The most effective curveballs will start breaking at the height of the arc of the ball flight, and continue to break more and more rapidly as they approach and cross through the strike zone. A curveball that a pitcher fails to put enough spin on will not break much and is colloquially called a "hanging curve". Hanging curves are usually disastrous for a pitcher because the low velocity, non-breaking pitch is left high in the zone where hitters can wait on it and drive it for power.
The curveball is a popular and effective pitch in professional baseball, but it is not particularly widespread in leagues with players younger than college level. This is with regard for the safety of the pitcher – not because of its difficulty – though the pitch is widely considered difficult to learn as it requires some degree of mastery and the ability to pinpoint the thrown ball's location. There is generally greater chance of throwing wild pitches when throwing the curveball.
When thrown correctly, it could have a break from seven to as much as 20 inches in comparison to the same pitcher's fastball.
Due to the unnatural motion required to throw it, the curveball is considered a more advanced pitch and poses inherent risk of injury to a pitcher’s elbow and shoulder. There has been a controversy, as reported in the New York Times, March 12, 2012, about whether curveballs alone are responsible for injuries in young pitchers or whether it is the number of pitches thrown that are the predisposing factor. In theory, allowing time for the cartilage and tendons of the arm to fully develop would protect against injuries. While acquisition of proper form might be protective, Dr. James Andrews is quoted in the article as stating that in many children, insufficient neuromuscular control, lack of proper mechanics, and fatigue make maintenance of proper form unlikely.
The parts of the arm most commonly injured by the curveball are the ligaments in the elbow, the biceps, and the forearm muscles. Major elbow injury requires repair through elbow ligament reconstruction, or Tommy John surgery.
Curveballs have a variety of trajectories and breaks among pitchers. This chiefly has to do with the arm slot and release point of a given pitcher, which is in turn governed by how comfortable the pitcher is throwing the overhand curveball.
Pitchers who can throw a curveball completely over handed with the arm slot more or less vertical will have a curveball that will break straight downwards. This is called a 12–6 curveball as the break of the pitch is on a straight path downwards like the hands of a clock at 12 and 6. The axis of rotation of a 12–6 curve is parallel with the level ground and perpendicular to its flight path.
Pitchers who throw their curveballs with the arm slot at an angle will throw a curveball that breaks down and toward the pitcher's off-hand. In the most extreme cases the curve will break very wide laterally. Because the slider and the curveball share nearly the same grip and have the same unique throwing motions, this curveball breaks much like a slider, and is colloquially termed a "slurve." The axis of rotation on a slurve will still be more or less perpendicular to the flight path of the ball; the latter however, will not be parallel to the ground. With some pitchers, the difference between curveball and other pitches such as slider and slurve, may be difficult to detect or even describe. A less common term for this type of curveball is a 1–7 or 2–8 curve.
Generally the Magnus effect describes the laws of physics that make a curveball curve. A fastball travels through the air with backspin, which creates a higher pressure zone in the air ahead of and under the baseball. The baseball's raised seams augment the ball's ability to develop a boundary layer and therefore a greater differential of pressure between the upper and lower zones. The effect of gravity is partially counteracted as the ball rides on and into increased pressure. Thus the fastball falls less than a ball thrown without spin (neglecting knuckleball effects) during the 60 feet 6 inches it travels to home plate.
On the other hand, a curveball, thrown with topspin, creates a higher pressure zone on top of the ball, which deflects the ball downward in flight. Instead of counteracting gravity, the curveball adds additional downward force, thereby gives the ball an exaggerated drop in flight.
There was once a debate on whether a curveball actually curves or is an optical illusion. In 1949, Ralph B. Lightfoot, an aeronautical engineer at Sikorsky Aircraft, used wind tunnel tests to prove that a curveball curves. On whether a curveball is caused by an illusion, Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean has been quoted in a number of variations on this basic premise: "Stand behind a tree 60 feet away, and I will whomp you with an optical illusion!"
However, optical illusion caused by the ball's spinning may play an important part in what makes curveballs difficult to hit. The curveball's trajectory is smooth, however the batter perceives a sudden, dramatic change in the ball's direction. When an object that is spinning and moving through space is viewed directly, the overall motion is interpreted correctly by the brain. However, as it enters the peripheral vision, the internal spinning motion distorts how the overall motion is perceived. A curveball's trajectory begins in the center of the batter's vision, but overlaps with peripheral vision as it approaches the plate, which may explain the suddenness of the break perceived by the batter. A peer-reviewed article on this hypothesis was published in 2010.
Popular nicknames for the curveball include "the bender" and "the hook" (both describing the trajectory of the pitch), "Uncle Charlie", "Lord Charles", "the yellow hammer", and "the yakker". Because catchers frequently use two fingers to signal for a curve, the pitch is also referred to as "the deuce" or "number two".
Baseball lore has it that the curveball was invented in the early 1870s by Candy Cummings (it is debatable). An early demonstration of the "skewball" or curveball occurred at the Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn in August 1870 by Fred Goldsmith. In 1869, a reporter for the New York Clipper described Phonney Martin as an "extremely hard pitcher to hit for the ball never comes in a straight line‚ but in a tantalizing curve." If the observation is true, this would pre-date Cummings and Goldsmith. In 1876, the first known collegiate baseball player to perfect the curveball was Clarence Emir Allen of Western Reserve College, now known as Case Western Reserve University. Both Allen, and teammate pitcher John P. Barden, became famous for employing the curve in the late 1870s. In the early 1880s, Clinton Scollard (1860–1932), a pitcher from Hamilton College in New York, became famous for his curve ball and later earned fame as a prolific American poet. In 1885, St. Nicholas, a children's magazine, featured a story entitled, "How Science Won the Game". It told of how a boy pitcher mastered the curveball to defeat the opposing batters. In the early years of the sport, use of the curveball was thought to be dishonest and was outlawed, but officials could not do much to stop pitchers from using it.
Records of the Princeton University (then the College of New Jersey) game from September 26, 1863 in the New York Clipper of the Nassaus facing the Athletics refer to F. P. Henry, Princeton Class of 1866, "slow pitching with a great twist to the ball achieved a victory over fast pitching." By 1866, many Princeton players were pitching and hitting "curved balls."
In the past, major league pitchers Bob Feller, Virgil Trucks, Herb Score, Camilo Pascual and Sandy Koufax were regarded as having outstanding curveballs. Other notable curveball pitchers since 1900 are/were Barry Zito, Kerry Wood, Adam Wainwright, Dwight Gooden, Nolan Ryan, David Wells, Darryl Kile, Clayton Kershaw, Orel Hershiser, Bert Blyleven, Yu Darvish, Justin Verlander, Steve Carlton, Mordecai Brown, Seth Lugo, and Lance McCullers Jr..
The 12–6 curveball is one of the types of pitches thrown in baseball. It is categorized as a breaking ball because of its downward break. The 12–6 curveball, unlike the normal curveball (also referred to as the "11 to 5 curve" or a "2 to 8 curve" for its motion), breaks in a downward motion in a straight line. This explains the name "12–6", because the break of the pitch refers to the ball breaking from the number 12 to the number 6 on a clock. While the 11-5 and 2-8 variations are very effective pitches, they are less effective than a true 12–6, because the ball will break into the heart of the bat more readily.The pitch is used throughout Major League Baseball. It has several nicknames, including the "yellow hammer".Altoona Curve
The Altoona Curve are a Minor League Baseball team based in Altoona, Pennsylvania, named after nearby Horseshoe Curve (but also alluding to the curveball, a kind of pitch). The team plays in the Eastern League and is the Double-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Curve play in Peoples Natural Gas Field, located in Altoona; it was opened in 1999 and seats 7,210 fans.
The Altoona Curve hosted the Eastern League All-Star Game at Blair County Ballpark on July 12, 2006, before a standing-room-only crowd of 9,308.Bert Blyleven
Bert Blyleven (born Rik Aalbert Blijleven, April 6, 1951) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who played from 1970 to 1992. A renowned curveball pitcher, Blyleven was a two-time All-Star and World Series champion. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011. Currently, he is the color commentator for the Minnesota Twins on Fox Sports North.Breaking ball
In baseball, a breaking ball is a pitch that does not travel straight as it approaches the batter; it will have sideways or downward motion on it, sometimes both (see slider). A breaking ball is not a specific pitch by that name, but is any pitch that "breaks", such as a curveball, slider, or slurve. A pitcher who primarily uses breaking ball pitches is often referred to as a junkballer.
A breaking ball is more difficult than a straight pitch for a catcher to receive as breaking pitches sometimes hit the ground (whether intentionally, or not) before making it to the plate. A curveball moves down and to the left for a right handed pitcher. For a left hand pitcher, it moves down and to the right. And blocking a breaking ball requires thought and preparation by the catcher. The pitcher then, must have confidence in the catcher, and the catcher in himself, to block any ball in the dirt; if there are runners on base, they will likely advance if the ball gets away from the catcher. (Whether the pitcher is right- or left-handed will dictate which direction the catcher must turn his body to adjust for the spin of an upcoming breaking ball. This necessary movement may reveal the next intended pitch to the batter; therefore an experienced catcher must fake or mask his intentions when preparing for the pitch.)
If a breaking ball fails to break, it is called a "hanging" breaking ball, or specifically, a "hanging" curve. The "hanger" presents a high, slow pitch that is easy for the batter to see, and often results in an extra-base hit or a home run.
Don Mattingly wrote in Don Mattingly's Hitting Is Simple: The ABC's of Batting .300 that "hitting a breaking ball is one of the toughest things you'll have to learn" due to the ball's very brief window in the strike zone.Camilo Pascual
Camilo Alberto Pascual Lus (born January 20, 1934) is a Cuban former Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher. During an 18-year baseball career (1954–71), he played for the original modern Washington Senators franchise (which became the Minnesota Twins in 1961), the second edition of the Washington Senators, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Cleveland Indians. He was also known by the nicknames "Camile" and "Little Potato."Pascual's best pitches were his fastball and devastating overhand curveball, described by Ted Williams as the "most feared curveball in the American League for 18 years". His curveball has been rated in the top 10 of all-time. Over his career, he compiled 174 wins, 2,167 strikeouts, and a 3.63 earned run average. He was elected to the American League All-Star team 5 times (from 1959 to 1962, and in 1964). In the second 1961 All-Star Game, he pitched three hitless innings and struck out four.Candy Cummings
William Arthur "Candy" Cummings (October 18, 1848 – May 16, 1924) was an American professional baseball player. He played as a pitcher in the National Association and National League. Cummings is widely credited with inventing the curveball. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939.Curveball (Ugly Betty)
"Curveball" is the 23rd episode in the third season, the 64th episode overall, of the American dramedy series Ugly Betty, which aired on May 21, 2009. This episode doubles as the first part of a two-hour episode, a first in the series' history.Curveball (informant)
Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi (Arabic: رافد أحمد علوان الجنابي, Rāfid Aḥmad Alwān; born 1968), known by the Defense Intelligence Agency cryptonym "Curveball", is a German citizen who defected from Iraq in 1999, claiming that he had worked as a chemical engineer at a plant that manufactured mobile biological weapon laboratories as part of an Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program. Alwan's allegations were subsequently shown to be false by the Iraq Survey Group's final report published in 2004.Despite warnings from the German Federal Intelligence Service and the British Secret Intelligence Service questioning the authenticity of the claims, the US and British governments utilised them to build a rationale for military action in the lead up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, including in the 2003 State of the Union address, where President Bush said "we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs", and Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council, which contained a computer generated image of a mobile biological weapons laboratory. They were suggested to be mobile production trucks for artillery balloons. On 24 September 2002, the British government published its dossier on the former Iraqi leader's WMD with a personal foreword by Blair, who assured readers Saddam Hussein had continued to produce WMD "beyond doubt".On November 4, 2007, 60 Minutes revealed Curveball's real identity. Former CIA official Tyler Drumheller summed up Curveball as "a guy trying to get his green card essentially, in Germany, and playing the system for what it was worth." He lives in Germany, where he has been granted asylum.In a February 2011 interview with The Guardian he "admitted for the first time that he lied about his story, then watched in shock as it was used to justify the war."Elmer Jacobs
William Elmer Jacobs (August 10, 1892 – February 10, 1958) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1914 to 1927. He played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, and Chicago White Sox. Jacobs' key pitch was the curveball. In 1926, he was suspended for 10 days after being caught with foreign substances on the mound.Fred Goldsmith (baseball)
Fredrick Elroy Goldsmith (May 15, 1856 – March 28, 1939) was a right-handed pitcher in 19th-century professional baseball in both the U.S. and Canada. In his prime, Goldsmith was six-foot-one-inch tall and weighed 195 pounds.Knuckle curve
In Major League history, the term knuckle curve or knuckle curveball has been used to describe three entirely different pitches.
The first, more common pitch called the knuckle curve is really a standard curveball, thrown with one or more of the index or mean fingers bent. According to practitioners, this gives them a better grip on the ball and allows for tighter spin and greater movement. In all other respects, this knuckle curve is identical to the standard curveball. This version of the knuckle curve is currently used by Major League pitchers Phil Hughes and Brad Peacock. Mike Mussina was well known for his incorporation of the pitch into his repertoire. Justin Verlander formerly threw a knuckle curve but was forced to abandon the pitch due to problems with blisters. This knuckle curve is usually called the spike curve by MLB players and coaches because the pitch is nothing like a knuckleball.
The second type of knuckle curve is a breaking ball that is thrown with a grip similar to the knuckleball. Unlike a knuckleball, which spins very little, a knuckle curve spins like a normal curveball because the pitcher's index and middle fingers push the top of the ball into a downward curve at the moment of release. Since only two fingers produce the spin, however, a knuckle curve does not spin as fast as a curveball, meaning the break is less sharp, and less predictable. Because this knuckle curve can be thrown with the same general motion as a fastball, it is more deceptive than a normal curveball. This kind of knuckle curve is rare—it is easier to control than a standard knuckleball, but still difficult to master. The most famous practitioners of this type of knuckle curve are Burt 'Happy' Hooton, who pitched for the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s, and former reliever Jason Isringhausen.
The third type of knuckle curve was thrown by Dave Stenhouse in the 1960s. Stenhouse's knuckle curve was thrown like a fastball but with a knuckleball grip. Stenhouse discovered that this pitch had excellent movement, and when he came to the majors, he utilized it as a breaking pitch. This pitch may have been the same as the knuckleball thrown by Jesse Haines and Freddie Fitzsimmons. The pitch would be perfected by Chicago White Sox legend Hoyt Wilhelm during the later stages of his career, after flirting with it for most of his time in the majors.Phish festivals
Starting in 1996, American jam band Phish has hosted a series of festivals - ten in total, with attendance ranging from 35,000 to 85,000. They are typically the only band to perform at the festivals, although the 1998 Lemonwheel festival and 1999 Camp Oswego festival both featured a second stage for supporting acts.Sad Sam Jones
Samuel Pond "Sad Sam" Jones (July 26, 1892 – July 6, 1966) was an American Major League Baseball pitcher with the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators and the Chicago White Sox between 1914 and 1935. Jones batted and threw right-handed. His sharp breaking curveball also earned him the nickname "Horsewhips Sam".Sam Jones (baseball)
Samuel "Toothpick" Jones (December 14, 1925 – November 5, 1971) was an American Major League Baseball pitcher with the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants, Detroit Tigers and the Baltimore Orioles between 1951 and 1964. He batted and threw right-handed.Born in Stewartsville, Ohio, Jones played for several Negro League teams, including the Orlando All-Stars in 1946; and the Cleveland Buckeyes, where he played under the management of Quincy Trouppe, in 1947 and 1948; and the Kansas City Royals, " touring Negro League squad handpicked by Satchel Paige." In 1948-49 he played in Panama, and then, with the end of the Negro National League, played semi-pro ball until he was signed by the Indians organization in the fall of 1949, playing Class A ball in the season and winter ball for Panama in 1949-50. Jones began his major league career with the Cleveland Indians in 1951. When he entered a game on May 3, 1952, 39-year-old rookie Quincy Trouppe, a Negro League veteran, was behind the plate. Together they formed the first black battery in American League history. Both Sam Jones and Quincy Trouppe played for the Cleveland Buckeyes in the Negro American League.
After the 1954 season, the Tribe traded him to the Chicago Cubs for two players to be named later, one of who was slugger Ralph Kiner. In 1956, the Cubs traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals in a multi-player deal; prior to the 1959 season, he was dealt this time to the San Francisco Giants for Bill White and Ray Jablonski. He was picked 25th by the expansion Houston Colt .45s in the 1961 expansion draft, then traded to the Detroit Tigers for Bob Bruce and Manny Montejo. He rejoined the Cardinals for the 1963 campaign and played 1964 with the Baltimore Orioles. He spent the final three years of his pro career as a relief pitcher with the Columbus Jets of the International League before retiring at the end of the 1967 season.
During his career, Jones was known for his sweeping curveball, in addition to a fastball and changeup. Stan Musial once remarked, "Sam had the best curveball I ever saw... He was quick and fast and that curve was terrific, so big it was like a change of pace. I've seen guys fall down on curves that became strikes." During his career, Jones led the National League in strikeouts, and walks, three times: in 1955, 1956, and 1958. On May 12 of the former of these three seasons, he no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-0 at Wrigley Field, becoming the first African American in Major League history to pitch a no-hitter. He achieved this no-hitter in the hardest way: after walking Gene Freese, Preston Ward (who was pinch-run for by Román Mejías) and Tom Saffell to begin the ninth inning, he left the bases loaded by striking out Dick Groat, Roberto Clemente and Frank Thomas in succession. His greatest year came with the Giants in 1959, when he led the league in both wins with 21 (tying him with Milwaukee Braves starters Lew Burdette and Warren Spahn) and ERA with 2.83. He was named 1959 National League Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News, but finished a distant second to Early Wynn of the Chicago White Sox for the Cy Young Award. He was named to the NL All-Star team twice, in 1955 and 1959.
Jones died from a recurrence of neck cancer first diagnosed in 1962, in Morgantown, West Virginia at the age of 45.Santiago Casilla
Santiago Casilla (born July 25, 1980) is a Dominican professional baseball relief pitcher who is a free agent. He previously played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants. Casilla throws four pitches: a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup.Screwball
A screwball is a baseball and fastpitch softball pitch that is thrown so as to break in the opposite direction of a slider or curveball. Depending on the pitcher's arm angle, the ball may also have a sinking action.
Carl Hubbell was one of the most renowned screwball pitchers in the history of Major League Baseball. Hubbell was known as the "scroogie king" for his mastery of the pitch and the frequency with which he threw it. Other famous screwball artists include Tug McGraw and Cy Young Award winners Mike Cuellar, Fernando Valenzuela, Mike Marshall, and Willie Hernández.Slider
In baseball, a slider is a breaking ball pitch that tails laterally and down through the batter's hitting zone; it is thrown with less speed than a fastball but greater than the pitcher's curveball.
The break on the pitch is shorter than that of the curveball, and the release technique is 'between' those of a curveball and a fastball. The slider is similar to the cutter, a fastball pitch, but is more of a breaking ball than the cutter. The slider is also known as a yakker or a snapper.Starting pitcher
In baseball (hardball or softball), a starting pitcher or starter is the first pitcher in the game for each team. A pitcher is credited with a game started if they throw the first pitch to the opponent's first batter of a game. Starting pitchers are expected to pitch for a significant portion of the game, although their ability to do this depends on many factors, including effectiveness, stamina, health, and strategy.
A starting pitcher in professional baseball usually rests three, four, or five days after pitching a game before pitching another. Therefore, most professional baseball teams have four, five or six starting pitchers on their rosters. These pitchers, and the sequence in which they pitch, is known as the rotation. In modern baseball, a five-man rotation is most common.In contrast, a pitcher who enters the game after the first pitch of the game is a relief pitcher. Ocassionally, an opening pitcher is used for only a few innings, and is replaced by a long reliever or a pitcher who would typically be a starting pitcher.Willis Hudlin
George Willis Hudlin (May 23, 1906 – August 5, 2002) was born in Wagoner, Oklahoma, and was a Major League Baseball pitcher for, most notably, the Cleveland Indians from 1926 to 1940. Hudlin didn't pitch more than 10 games with any other team, although he played with 3 others.
In 1940, Hudlin became one of the few players to compete on 4 different major league teams in the same year (Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators, St. Louis Browns, and the New York Giants). His career statistics include a 158–156 record, with a 4.41 ERA. He had 677 strikeouts in 2613 career innings pitched. Hudlin was the pitcher who gave up Babe Ruth's 500th home run.
Hudlin was a very good hitting pitcher in his career, recording a .201 batting average (180-for-894) with 76 runs, 5 home runs and 69 RBI.
His pitch selection included a well-known sinker, a fastball, curveball and a changeup. He occasionally threw sidearm or with an underhand "dip of the wrist", though he threw overhand most often. After Hudlin finished playing in the majors, he was a manager for the minor league Little Rock Travelers and pitching coach for the Detroit Tigers under skippers Jack Tighe, Bill Norman and Jimmy Dykes (1957–59).
He later became a scout for the New York Yankees where he scouted his own son James Hudlin who was given a contract to play professionally, but was drafted to fight in the Vietnam War. James Hudlin's pitch selection was a knuckleball, slider, curveball, and sinker, as well as a two-seam fastball that topped out at 102 mph.
Willis died in Little Rock, Arkansas at the age of 96.