Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Eephus

A Mr. Richard Feyler of Fort Lee, New Jersey wrote,
Sharks rock! Congrats to all! BTW, what's an eephus?
Mr. Feyler is referring to a term I used to describe Alan Fein's high-arcing pitches that confounded opposing hitters during our first two playoff games.

Via an email to the team, Loan Shark Eric Johnson provided a concise explanation:
An eephus pitch is a high-arc pitch with nothing on it, essentially all slow pitch softball is eephus pitching. It was used by Rip Sewell in the 30's after he shot himself in the foot and couldn't pivot on his right foot. Most famously used by Bill Lee in the '75 world series when Tony Perez whacked one into screen in Fenway. It is difficult for hitters to time it, but when they do, even someone like Bucky "bleepin" Dent can hit one out, which he didn't, but he might as well have.
And here's a link to a longer but still fascinating answer by Kirk Robinson from It begins:
The purest junk -- the junkiest pitch in history -- is the Eephus pitch, invented by Rip Sewell of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the thirties. The Eephus pitch is a pitch with absolutely nothing on it -- no velocity, no fancy spin, and no break. No deception at all. And most of all, no SPEED.

It’s an American Gothic, a true Mother-Hubbard’s-bare-cupboard of a pitch. Every once in a while, Sewell would just look at the plate, and lob the baseball up into a rainbow arc. There was no ulterior motive here. No trick. It’s the same pitch you see on a slow pitch softball field, only overhand, and higher, and, somehow, even slower.

Sometimes, the ball dropped down into the strike zone while the suddenly emasculated hitter flailed. More often they managed some kind of contact, yet for some reason (perhaps the arc of the pitch was too severe) they couldn’t knock it out of the park. And that’s all they wanted to do. As a hitter, you don’t see an outrageous pitch like the Eephus and think, Single. The Eephus pitch was an insult: they wanted to pulverize it, kill it, crush it. They’d get so worked up waiting for it they couldn’t see it straight, and they’d ground out, or pop out, or miss altogether. They risked injury -- the swings they took were that hard. And then they were embarrassed, angry. Give it to me again, you son-of-a-bitch!

Keep reading...


Anonymous said...

Fascinating .. by why the heck is it called an eephus?

Anonymous said...

I think according to my favorite book when I was a kid ("Strange But True Sports Stories") the pitch was named by a Dutch teammate of Sewell's because eephus means something in Dutch. ("nothing" I think but can't remember).

Also, another famous one was Ted Williams hitting a dinger off Sewell in the All-Star game when he got back from the Pacific theater.


C - Log said...

From the Wikipedia entry on The Eephus:

According to Pirates manager Frankie Frisch, the pitch was named by outfielder Maurice van Robays, who when asked what it meant replied, "Eephus ain't nothin'."

(This Wikipedia entry also contains some more morsels of info on the Eephus, so check it out if you're interested.)

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