Thanks for your interest, but the only thing I can tell you about how I
learned is exactly how you described it. I just fooled around with it as a
kid and eventually got good at throwing it consistently. Like they always
say, practice makes perfect. Keep throwing it and don't let it spin.
can throw the thing, and see it up close--you don't have the proper appreciation for it.
We'll be doing our part to spread the word.
Partial transcript from Jason Varitek's live chat on Redsox.com:
Jared from North Adams asks: How hard is it to catch for Tim Wakefield?
"It's never relaxing, that's for sure. It's like snowflakes -- no two are ever alike."
Golfboy55 from My Computer asks: Is it true that you can't catch a knuckleball? My friend said so but I disagree.
"Well, I'd say that Wake has thrown over 3,000 knuckleballs and I know I've caught at least one of 'em."
murph_101 from granby mass asks: Hi, I'm a catcher for my high school and I was just wondering how you catch the knuckle ball?
"You have to wait as long as possible, because it moves at the last moment."
I once asked Charlie Hough,
another great knuckleball pitcher,
why more pitchers didn't throw a knuckleball.
"Why don't more pitchers throw 95 mph?" Hough shot back.
"Because it's really hard to do!"
"There are two theories on catching the knuckleball...
unfortunately, neither of the theories work."
|Joe Niekro's Top 10 Excuses - August 6, 1987||10. The emory board is a new super-grip popsicle stick.
9. I only used it to apply Vaseline to the ball.
8. I needed it to scrape dried wads of chewing tobacco off the bullpen telephone.
7. Delicate double-knit uniforms easily snagged on rough nails.
6. I was using it to make a statue of commissioner Ueberroth.
5. I used it as a bookmark for my dugout copy of Shirley MacLaine's autobiography.
4. Rules of fair play are for saps and squares.
3. I've been hypnotized by evil dogs.
2. It was all William Casey's idea.
1. I like to give pedicures to ballboys.
John Kruk, on hitting a knuckleball:
"I'd rather have my leg cut off than do that all day. You just hope it hits your bat in a good spot."
"Well, I always wanted to teach my kid to throw a knuckleball, to play seven card stud, and to fix the carburetor on an MG. I guess I'll just have to do that with a boy." -- Murphy Brown
"I never worry about it. I just take my three swings and go sit on the bench. I'm afraid if I ever think about hitting it, I'll mess up my swing for life."
Charlie Hough, on the best situation for a knuckleball pitcher:
"A stadium with the lights out."
Phil Niekro, before a World Series game:
"I don't want anybody to panic. I'm not pitching. I'm just throwing out the first ball."
and, on Tim Wakefield:
"Tim was so successful early, and then he just lost it. That's when it becomes very tough mentally to throw a pitch that everybody knows is coming. I've told him that he's got to keep learning, he's got to eat, sleep, walk and talk the knuckleball until it floats in his bloodstream like a spirit inside of him."
"You don't catch the knuckleball, you defend against it."
Bobby Murcer, on Phil Niekro:
"Trying to hit Phil Niekro is like trying to eat jello with chopsticks. Sometimes you get a piece but most of the time you get hungry."
Jimmy Cannon, what's a knuckleball?
"A curve ball that doesn't give a damn."
"The way I judge my knuckleball is by what the batters are doing with it. If they are hitting line drives over the shortstop or hitting the ball out, it's pretty obvious it's not moving... there were maybe three line drives and the rest were worm-beaters that either did or didn't get out of the infield. That's when I know my knuckleball is moving, and it has been my last couple of times out."
Joe Niekro, on his last few Spring Training outings of 1987.
"You live and die with it, and hopefully, you don't die too much."
-- Dennis Springer
|Wade Boggs pitches one scoreless inning of relief for the Yankees in a blowout loss to the Anaheim Angels. Boggs threw 16 knuckleballs and one fastball that clocked 74 mph. "I was Phil Niekro and Charlie Hough all rolled into one," said a beaming Boggs.|
"I work for three weeks to get my swing down pat and Phil (Niekro) messes it up in one night."
"Trying to hit that thing is a miserable way to make a living."
"He simply destroys your timing with that knuckleball. It comes flying in there dipping and hopping like crazy and you just can't hit it."
Daniel Boone, on his famous namesake ancestor:
"I don't know if he'd have had the courage to throw a knuckleball on a 3-and-2 count with the bases loaded."
An audio comment from Phil Niekro. (756 K)
"You can throw a bad one once in awhile if you're throwing a lot of good ones. But you can't throw two or three bad ones in a row. Sometimes when I go out there I throw just about every one of them good. At other times it's just nothing. And I get hit. It takes a lot of work and a lot of concentration. It's that delicate a pitch."
Rick Monday, to Phil Niekro:
"When I swing, don't laugh."
"It giggles as it goes by."
Randy Hundley's take on it:
"You see the ball and you just know you've got a bead on it, then you swing, and poof, it's not there anymore."
Jethawks outfielder Joe Mathis describing San Bernardino Stampede pitcher Kevin Pincavitch's knuckleball:
"The thing is like a piranha, it's got bite."
Todd Helton never faced a knuckleball pitcher before he had three hitless at-bats against Tom Candiotti:
"I don't want to see another one."
Bob Uecker, on the best way to catch it:
"Wait'll it stops rolling, then go pick it up."
...and on the benefits of catching it:
"I met a lot of important people. They all sit behind home plate."
...and a strikeout play:
"(Phil) Niekro struck out a hitter once and I never touched the ball. It hit me in the shinguard, bounced out to Clete Boyer at third base and he threw out the runner at first. Talk about a weird assist: 2-5-3 on a strikeout."
"Hitting Niekro's knuckleball is like eating soup with a fork."
Former coach Tim Owens:
"The knuckleball screws up the mind."
"Hitting that thing is like trying to catch a butterfly with a pair of tweezers."
|Jim Bouton, in his book, Ball Four:
"Me watching Niekro pitch was like a young artist inspecting his first Picasso. I examined him very closely. His knuckleball seems to wobble up there, moving three or four times in a small pattern. Wilhelm's swishes up to the plate in swinging arcs. My knuckleball gets up there in a hurry and breaks more sharply and erratically, but only once. When it's working, I mean."
"You need the fingers of a safecracker and the mind of a Zen Bhuddist to throw it."
Willie Stargell calls the knuckleball:
"A butterfly with hiccups."
Barre, Mass. Babe Ruth coach Mike Lam:
"I had a pitcher who had a fastball in the high 80's, and a knuckleball. Talk about unfair."
Dave Clark, KnuckleballHQ
"For a knuckleballer, a pitch count of 150 is not a problem. Unless it's the first inning."
"You don't want a knuckleballer pitching for you or against you."
Floyd Robinson actually swung at one that went BEHIND him...