Query about the "quick pitch"

Dave Wilton dave at WILTON.NET
Sat Jun 21 20:28:57 UTC 2003

>    When was the "quick pitch" was outlawed in baseball? I'd be
> grateful if someone would let me know.
>     An article in the newspaper _San Francisco Bulletin_ (March 10,
> 1913, p. 17, col. 1) includes "...sneaked over a strike on the
> batsman."
> In context, this seems to refer to the quick pitch, but I thought
> this pitch was outlawed already in the 19th century.
>      The newspaper quote is:
> "Twice during the game Pat [Harkins, Seals pitcher] sneaked over a
> strike on the batsman.  He fooled Harry Lord [of the Chicago White
> Sox] on this once."

I don't know exactly when it was made illegal, but it was before 1928. In
game 4 of the '28 series Cardinal Bill Sherdel quick pitched to Babe Ruth.
The pitch was ruled illegal. Ruth hit a homer off the next pitch, one of
three he hit in that game.

I'm not sure that when the quick pitch became illegal is relevant to the
lexical question though. Pitchers were quick pitching before the rule and
continue to do so to this day. Just because a pitch is illegal doesn't mean
that pitchers don't throw it nor that sportswriters don't write about such

But The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary also records "sneaker" and "sneaky"
to denote fastballs that appear slower than they actually are and are
perfectly legal. Dickson has a 1945 cite for "sneaker" in this sense. It
could be that this is an early use of the term for a deceptively fast pitch,
as opposed to a "quick" or "quick return" pitch (which for those who don't
know is a pitch that is delivered before the batter is set in the box).

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