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Whatever happened to the Forkball?


Gurgi

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Growing up in the early eighties I remember the big deal was pitchers throwing the Forkball. I remember Clemens and Mike Boddicker some of the early users of the pitch. Jack Morris also. Doesnt seem like anyone on the Orioles throws the pitch at all. Am I wrong? Any player in the league well know for throwing it?

I seem to remember something about the pitch being rather hard on a pitchers arm. Any of this true?

I would think some of these fringy guys would risk injury and learn how to throw this devistaing pitch.

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From the Wikipedia article on the forkball

The forkball is favored by several major league pitchers, including Hideo Nomo, José Contreras, Chien-Ming Wang and Edwar Ramirez. In addition, a number of NPB players throw forkballs, including Kazumi Saitoh of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks who has ridden his forkball to two Sawamura Awards.

... The forkball is known to be a cause of damage to the shoulder and elbow. Famous forkballers, particularly Japanese players, have often required surgery to remove bone fractures or to repair damaged tendons, sometimes several times in their careers. One such pitcher was former Yokohama BayStars and Seattle Mariners closer Kazuhiro Sasaki who, according to one fan, "practically had to have bone chips removed from his elbow every year."

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Growing up in the early eighties I remember the big deal was pitchers throwing the Forkball. I remember Clemens and Mike Boddicker some of the early users of the pitch. Jack Morris also. Doesnt seem like anyone on the Orioles throws the pitch at all. Am I wrong? Any player in the league well know for throwing it?

I seem to remember something about the pitch being rather hard on a pitchers arm. Any of this true?

I would think some of these fringy guys would risk injury and learn how to throw this devistaing pitch.

IIRC, Jose Contreras throws it. I believe even when he grips the ball on the mound before taking the signs, this is the grip that he uses. Don't ask why I remember that.

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Speaking of the devil. Someone posted in another thread that the new Japanese player we got Uehara throws the forkball.

I saw that when I was googling for information on the forkball, but I didn't mention it in my post. I figured it was discussion of Uehara which triggered your question, and it would be "old news" to everyone reading this thread. :)

I also wondered if someone had gotten Uehara confused with Saitoh, because of these two comments.

From the Wikipedia article I posted above:

... a number of NPB players throw forkballs, including Kazumi Saitoh of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks who has ridden his forkball to two Sawamura Awards

At Scout.com, November 19, 2008: Don't Expect to Save Money on this Import

A two-time winner of the Sawamura Award as Japan's best starting pitcher,.... Uehara’s repertoire includes an 88-90 mph fastball, a nice cutter, two kinds of forkball,...

Probably just a coincidence that they both won the Sawamura Award twice....

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Probably just a coincidence that they both won the Sawamura Award twice....

Lots and lots of Japanese pitchers throw some kind of split-fingered pitch. Having two two-time Sawamura award winners who throw forkballs is probably be like having two Cy Young winners who both threw circle changes.

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Lots and lots of Japanese pitchers throw some kind of split-fingered pitch. Having two two-time Sawamura award winners who throw forkballs is probably be like having two Cy Young winners who both threw circle changes.

I was going to say that the Forkball of the past is called the split-finger now. I don't think there is any difference in the two pitches. Maybe the splitter is thrown harder than the Forkball, but that is not enough of a difference for me to have two names. The announcers ask the pitcher what they throw. If a pitcher says they though a Fork instead of a splitter then you will hear Forkball.

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I was going to say that the Forkball of the past is called the split-finger now. I don't think there is any difference in the two pitches. Maybe the splitter is thrown harder than the Forkball, but that is not enough of a difference for me to have two names. The announcers ask the pitcher what they throw. If a pitcher says they though a Fork instead of a splitter then you will hear Forkball.

I think there is a difference. A true forkball is almost like a bad knuckler thrown harder - it tumbles to the plate with a little backspin. It falls off the table, but isn't thrown as hard as a fastball. A lot of pitchers, oldtimers especially, used to jam the ball in between their index and middle fingers. I'm pretty sure Roy Face used this as his bread-and-butter pitch.

A split-finger fastball is gripped like a fastball with the index and middle fingers spread out a bit. It's thrown just like a fastball, but the grip imparts less backspin than a fastball (and more than a forkball). It'll dip from the lack of lift from less spin, but it's a different thing from a forkball. This is the pitch Bruce Sutter kind of pioneered.

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The splitter is suppose to tumble like a knuckleball. What you are describing to me is a sinker. Other than being slower than a splitter, I don't see a difference.

They're both kinds of sinkers.

A forkball is supposed to tumble, a splitfingered fastball (or what I call a splitter) has more backspin. It's all in the grip. Forkball has the ball jammed in between two fingers, splitter is thrown just like a fastball except the two fingers a spread slightly.

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They're both kinds of sinkers.

A forkball is supposed to tumble, a splitfingered fastball (or what I call a splitter) has more backspin. It's all in the grip. Forkball has the ball jammed in between two fingers, splitter is thrown just like a fastball except the two fingers a spread slightly.

Slightly? The splitters I have seen are pretty wide. I think it was Roger Clemens who would always start with the splitter grip in his hand because it is a hard pitch to grip during the pitching motion.

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I was playing around on Google and found this quote from Doug Thorburn, from something called the National Pitching Association:

Everything about a split-finger delivery is the same as a regular fastball, aside from the grip. The only difference is the physical split of the fingers, and it is true that players with small hands will feel pain in those fingers if they attempt to stretch too far, and get an extremely wide grip. A wide grip is not necessary to throw a split-finger, and what most kids try to find is actually a forkball grip. Forkballs are great if you’re Bob Welch or Jose Contreras, but not so great if your hands are still growing and can’t yet hold a baseball properly.

Forkball = wider grip than a splitter.

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