View single post by srossi
 Posted: Thu Jun 14th, 2018 02:50 am
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Joined: Sun Oct 14th, 2007
Location: New York USA
Posts: 49516
WongLee wrote: srossi wrote: WongLee wrote: This is what I can't understand and I've never heard a good explanation of why. How could guys like Cy Young, Iron Joe McGinnity and Walter Johnson, throw 400 plus innings year in and year out, strike out well over 300 guys a year, and have 20 year careers?
They weren’t throwing as hard or a variety of pitches. It was all fastball curve and despite some tall tales that can’t be proven in the days before radar guns, they were probably topping out in the 80s. And even so, some of these guys put their bodies through torture that would never be allowed today. I’ve read that Old Hoss Radbourn couldn’t brush his teeth or comb his hair during the off-season because his arm was so fucked up. That was after he won a record 59 games, pitching approximately every other day. During the deadball era, he probably was throwing the equivalent of what softball pitchers throw today, but he still basically destroyed his arm. 

I also think in all seriousness that natural strength from farming or manual labor, which is what all these guys had, preserved the arm a lot more than weight training. Pure speculation that those guys couldn't throw as fast. Walter Johnson and Christy Mathewson had fastballs that were close to unhittable. The same with Bob Feller who some modern day historians think topped 100mph on a regular basis. Satchel Paige (go ahead and disagree racist). While the mechanics were not nearly as sophisticated as they are now, these guys were just as good as anyone today.

Now as far as these guys fucking up their arms, did they really? Christy Mathewson pitched 17 seasons and was only stopped because the Hun mustard gassed him in the trenches. Walter Johnson went 21 seasons. Cy Young went 22. Iron Joe McGinnity went 10 years but was a rookie at age 28. Muthafucka had consecutive years where he went well over 400 innings.
Two pitches is not exactly right either. You had knuckleball pitchers, screwball pitchers, and sinkerball pitchers.

Just like Strangler Lewis could beat John Cena in a shoot match, Smokey Joe Wood had a better fastball than Jerry Blevins.

I was talking primarily about dead ball era guys, but I heard all the stories about Bob Feller and think it’s bullshit. He pitched in the 1940s and not the 1880s so it was a lot more like the game we know today, but still I’m thinking there’s a lot of mythology involved with pitch speeds before radar guns were common. If he was throwing 94 when others were throwing 88, how easy is it to say he topped 100?  Who’s to say for sure? And if he reared back and then as hard as he could to prove a point and really did hit 100 (as he did against the racing motorcycle which supposedly proves his speed in an incredibly unscientific way), who’s to say he was regularly doing that in games?  There’s no way to ever know. Some guys today are doing that consistently after 80 or 90 pitches, not once or twice. 

But yes, a guy like Walter Johnson pitched into the ‘20s, had a ton of longevity, and was blowing fastballs by some big-time power hitters. He must’ve had some heat. I still question how hard he was really throwing. Everyone throws mid-90s now minimum and I don’t even remember that remotely being the case in 1992 much less 1922. 

I’m overstating it obviously by saying there were only fastballs and curves, but there were far fewer pitches than today. Lots of knuckleballers, and that doesn’t put strain on the arm. No sliders or circle changeups or anything like that. I don’t think they even had 2-seam vs. 4-seam fastballs. Plus they had spitballs which meant more movement with less exertion, and even more unofficially balls weren’t thrown out of play if they got dirty so they were moving around like we don’t see today. Mathewson did have his famous “fadeaway” pitch, I think it was a screwball, so I’m not saying guys weren’t experimenting and trying different things. I just reall question arm exertion then vs. now because babying aside, the human body does hit a wall with certain throwing motions at high velocities and it’s just not possible to keep going. 

Last edited on Thu Jun 14th, 2018 03:02 am by srossi

This thread was great before AA ruined it.