"sneaky fas"t in baseball

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon Jun 23 16:14:33 UTC 2003

Dave W said:

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).

There is today use of the term "sneaky fast" to refer to a pitcher's
fastball that is FASTER (in velocity) than it usually is.  That is, he
sometimes throws a fastball that seems to or actually does come up ("sneak
up") faster than his normal fastball, whether because of actually velocity,
arm angle, angle of delivery, the fact that it jams the batter (is thrown
near the batter's hands), or whatever.  To the batter, such a pitcher seems
to have two different fastballs, a "normal" one and a "sneaky" one.

And yes, quick pitches are still attempted, are still called this, and are
illegal, per all rules in use, from Little League on up through majors.
What constitutes a "quick pitch" is an umpire's judgment call, but
essentially it is a pitch delivered when the batter is not ready for it
because he has not had time to get set in the batter's box after the
previous pitch.  Since getting hit by a pitch, esp. an unexpected one, can
cause severe injury or even (in rare cases) death, the rules have long
outlawed quick pitches. Getting hit by a 90-plus MPH (as often seen in the
majors) fastball anywhere is no joke, and if the batter does not know it's
coming, it is decidedly unfair, to say the least.

[Baseball rules aside:  There are several different sets of baseball rules,
different in subtle but important ways, for each level of play.  For
example, there are rulebooks (also sometimes titled "rules books") for
Little League (through age 12), Junior and Senior LL (ages 13-15), high
school (so-called "Federation Rules"), American Legion, NCAA, NABA (adult
amateur baseball), and Major League Baseball (used in the professional minor
leagues, too).  Some leagues play with a modified set of one of these rule
books.   All this makes umpiring at the different levels just that much more

Frank Abate
#86, Greater New Haven Baseball Umpires Association

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