Monday, October 24, 2011

Swift Pitcher Throws 'Asprin'-Fast

When a player is hitting well, the ball looks as large as watermelon, or perhaps a cantaloupe (pamplemousse, en francais).

When he's not, it's a seed or a pill.

Or an aspirin tablet, as noted in a recent Sports Illustrated.

There's a very entertaining feature in the October 17 issue on a career minor league pitcher with a golden arm. "The Invisible Fastball" is about Jack Swift, who turned heads at backwater baseball stops such as Savannah and Buffalo and Elkin, NC in the '40s and '50s, all the while befuddling hitters with a blazing fastball, and racking up astounding numbers of innings.

Write Chris Ballard and Owen Good of the fastball:
"Teammates say it hissed, as if searing the air. In the parlance of the day Jack threw an aspirin tablet--that's how small the ball appeared to the hitter."

The writers take a close look at Swift's performance in 1953, pitching in Marion, NC. Swift threw a stunning 287 innings in a 108 game season, striking out 321 and winning 30.

Swift pitched before the radar gun offered a precise number to show just how hard a pitcher threw, and so his legend grew.

It's a really fun read.

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