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An Eephus pitch (also spelled Ephus) in baseball is considered a junk[1] pitch with very low speed. The delivery from the pitcher has very low velocity and usually catches the hitter off-guard. Its invention is attributed to Rip Sewell of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1940s. According to manager Frankie Frisch, the pitch was named by outfielder Maurice Van Robays. When asked what it meant, Van Robays replied, "'Eephus ain't nothing, and that's a nothing pitch." Although the origin is not known for certain, Eephus may come from the Hebrew word "efes" (pronounced "EFF-ess"), meaning "nothing".[2]

The Eephus pitch is thrown overhand like most pitches, but is characterized by an unusual high arcing trajectory and corresponding slow velocity, bearing more resemblance to a slow-pitch softball delivery than to a traditional baseball pitch. It is considered a trick pitch because, in comparison to normal baseball pitches (which run from 70 to 100 miles per hour), an Eephus pitch appears to move in slow motion (55 miles per hour or less).

Development and Use in Major League Baseball

After appearing in over 300 major league games, Rip Sewell gave up only one career home run off the Eephus, to Ted Williams in the 1946 All-Star Game. Williams challenged Sewell to throw the Eephus. Sewell obliged, and Williams missed the pitch. However, Sewell then announced that he was going to throw the pitch again, and Williams clobbered it for a home run.[3][4] Years later, however, Williams admitted that he had been running towards the pitcher’s mound as he hit the ball, and photographs reveal that he was in fact a few feet in front of the batter’s box when he made contact.[5] Since under Rule 6.06(a) of the Official Baseball Rules a batter is out for illegal action when he hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter’s box, Williams would have been out had it been spotted by an umpire.

Pitchers known to have employed the Eephus pitch include: Mark Buehrle; Casey Fossum (called the Fossum Flip[6]); Steve Hamilton of the New York Yankees (the folly floater); Liván Hernández; [7]; Orlando Hernández; Randy Johnson; Dave LaRoche (LaLob); Bill Lee, known as “Spaceman”, (the Space Ball, or, occasionally, the Leephus); Pascual Perez (the Pascual Pitch); Dave Stieb (the Dead Fish); Kazuhito Tadano[8] and Bob Tewksbury.

Other nicknames for the Eephus pitch include the bloop curve, gravity curve, and Bugs Bunny curve (a reference to the Bugs Bunny cartoon where batters swing three times at a pitch before the ball reaches the plate).

References

  1. ^ The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary. Harvest Books. January 1999. p. 284. ISBN 0156005808. http://books.google.com/books?id=afQVWhAm1TEC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_summary_r&cad=0#PPA284,M1. Retrieved 2009-01-21.  
  2. ^ Paul Jackson (July 17, 2008). "The something pitch". ESPN. http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=eephus/080715. Retrieved 2009-01-16.  
  3. ^ Virginia Hanley (July 2, 1999). "Ted Williams and the Eephus Pitch". The Melrose Mirror. SilverStringers. http://melrosemirror.media.mit.edu/servlet/pluto?state=303034706167653030375765625061676530303269643030353130383131. Retrieved 2009-01-16.  
  4. ^ "Rip Sewell, 'Eephus Ball' Pitcher For Pittsburgh Pirates, Dies at 82". New York Times. September 5, 1989. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DE2DC1130F936A3575AC0A96F948260. Retrieved 2009-01-16.  
  5. ^ John Donovan (April 16, 2004). "'LaLob' it in". Sports Illustrated. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2004/writers/john_donovan/04/15/eephus.pitch/. Retrieved 2009-01-16.  
  6. ^ Pingle, Brad, "Notes: Fossum introduces new quirk", MLB.com, July 31, 2005
  7. ^ "Sox bats knuckle under". Chicago Tribune. July 10, 1986.  
  8. ^ Bob Hohler (May 5, 2004). "Despite dramatics in ninth, Red Sox lose fifth straight". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/sports/baseball/redsox/articles/2004/05/05/slide_show/. Retrieved 2009-01-23.  
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