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By watching tapes of old baseball games,

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 18, 2005

By watching tapes of old baseball games, a New York illustrator has discovered the secret of great pitchers. “Witte’s scientific theory, the specifics of which he refuses to divulge, has something to do with how successful pitchers keep their gloves elevated at the start of their windups, let their back shoulders drop, and lift their front legs high.”

Reader comments

Matt JOct 18, 2005 at 10:20PM

Oh, yeah, sure. I read an article about a tailor who did the same thing and CONCLUSIVELY deduced that successful pitchers had their hems sewn with a double-underhung stitch, as opposed to the typical standard double stitch. I also read about a dermatologist that analyzed the arm-freckles of successful quarterbacks. Get it yet?

JohnOct 19, 2005 at 12:10AM

I don’t know, it’s certainly possible that there are certain mechanics that contribute to good pitching, or to reducing the chance of injury, or whathaveyou. What I am more surprised about, and what makes me skeptical, is that nobody has seen this before, if it is so consistent. Recordings of great pitchers have been poured over at length by thousands and thousands of people, you’d think that he would have discovered it beforehand.

If he’s right, though, I’m damn glad he’s working for my Cards. :)

GregOct 19, 2005 at 8:35AM

The same is true for golf, why wouldn’t it work for Baseball?

SamOct 19, 2005 at 11:03AM

Exactly what I was going to mention, Greg.
In golf, there as many different swings as there are golfers. The key to getting the ball to respond desirably is lies in having the club face at a necessary position upon, then through, impact. What the golfer does during backswing and follow-through has far less bearing.

The same is true for pitching. Wrist/forearm, along with hip/waist position in relation to shoulders during key parts of the delivery are vital to effective control. The shoulder and glove position during wind up are similar to the golf backswing.

Simply put, do what you want, but get your body in the right spot at the right times.

Glad to see comments open, Jason.

SteveOct 19, 2005 at 11:17AM

Actually, people have noticed this before. It is all about biomechanics. Frank Jobe, the LA Dodgers Trainer, teaches it all the time.

Jane Leavey, in her book about Sandy Koufax, writes about it.

Matt JOct 19, 2005 at 1:33PM

It’s absurdly reductionist, though. Sure, maybe they all do that, but it’s a result of some higher biomechanical function. If not, it’d be easy to accomplish for anyone. It’s also one level above saying something like “We’ve determined what made the Apollo space program successful in getting to the moon - the capsule got there and back without blowing up. Except for that Apollo one thing.” Anyone who’s tried to improve their golf swing knows, you can watch all the pro videos you want - keeping the face flat and your head down isn’t about knowing you need to do that.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.