Life is More Than 9 Innings



Book Excerpts Small Hotel Rooms Shaking off the Signal

The baseball term for a pitch thrown as hard as a fastball, but released with a clockwise twist of the wrist without much spin, is called a “slider.” It breaks late, slightly down and away from a right-hand batter if thrown by a right-hand pitcher.

Because I was very comfortable with the pitch, I took it another step by changing speeds and also throwing it for my “control pitch” (Got to have a strike) and stayed 10 years in the Major Leagues. When pitchers got into trouble back then, most would rely on a fastball for a strike. Their odds weren’t as good.

Roy Sievers was a power hitter for the Washington Senators and in 1958 he hit 39 home runs and, in his 16-year Major League career, he hit 318. Roy was one of the many great hitters who went to the batter’s box with a definite plan.

For instance in 1956, the first time Roy came to the plate in a game being played in the old Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., I started off by throwing a slow slider for a strike and he took the pitch without swinging. I threw another slider with the same result. With two strikes on him I threw a fastball low and away for a ball and then came back on the next pitch with a slider, which he took for strike three. He sat down and I felt good all over.

His next time at the plate, I started him off with a hard slider for a strike, which again he took without swinging. I then threw an easy slider that missed the outside of the plate for a ball. Next pitch, I threw him another hard slider for a strike that he took again. Unbelievably, he took the next really hard slider for strike three. He sat down and I felt so good that little babies could play with me.

His final time in the batter’s box is the reason you have had to suffer the last two paragraphs. He took strike one as my slider cut the outside corner. He took strike two looking at the same pitch. I wasted a fastball low and away and, when Sammy White, my catcher, called for another slider I thought, “Surely, he will know I am coming back with another slider,” so I shook off Sam who wanted me to throw another slider and threw Sievers a fastball strike and he quickly hit it fifteen rows up in the bleachers. It was the pitch he had been waiting for all game long and the only one he swung at. His reward was 1 RBI, a batting average of .333 for the day and proof that his method worked. My reward was having to listen to Sammy say, “If you are going to start thinking this late in your career Sullivan, simply stop the game and let’s talk!” My reply won’t be printed at this time but it had to do with him trying an extraordinary sex act with himself.

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