7/30/2008 10:54:00 PM

The Folly Floater

Posted by Mark McCray |

Fred Bierman/New York Times:

On Sunday, Randy Johnson was facing San Francisco outfielder Fred Lewis in the first inning and threw a pitch so slow that it failed to even register on the radar gun. Lewis was obviously expecting something with a little more heat on it and the pitch fluttered in for strike two. Lewis eventually worked a single in the at bat on the way to becoming the first lefty ever to get four hits off Johnson.

The Eephus pitch as it is known today, was popularized in the 1930s and 40s by a Pirates pitcher named Rip Sewell is basically just a high arcing lob or a “junk ball.” It seems that everyone who throws the pitch (or some version of it) has their own name for it. Dave LaRoche called his “LaLob”. Dave Steib called his the “Dead Fish”. Bill Lee (one of the most colorful figures in the history of the game) called his the “Spaceball” or “Leephus”. Yankee fans will of course remember Steve Hamilton’s “Folly Floater”. Today Orlando Hernandez and Tim Wakefield are among the only players to throw some version of the Eephus.

There are two famous stories of players missing or fouling off an eephus and asking for it again. In the 1946 All-Star game, Sewell threw one to Ted Williams, who missed it and asked for another. Sewell obliged and Williams hit it out of the park.

In 1975, errr 1970(...thanks, Cliff), the Yankee's Steve Hamilton threw one to Cleveland’s Tony Horton who fouled it back behind home plate. Horton asked for another and got it only to pop it up to catcher Thurmon Munson. Steeped in shame, Horton crawled back to the dugout. Thanks to YouTube you can watch the footage of this incident above. (Also thanks to YouTube you can watch this bizarro clip from some kind of Japanese television program of a different kind of eephus.)


Cliff said...

For a variety of reasons, that clip can't be from 1975. It's either 1969 or 1970.

Mark M. said...

Keen eye!!! Thank you for posting that...this article was off of the New York Times website and since you pointed that out I have since checked out the original article and there is a correction there.

The incident is indeed from 1970.

I am fixing it in this post now.

Thanks for commenting, Cliff!

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