FanPost

Tall Pitch

I'm feelin' pretty small at 6'0", 230 right now.   And it has nothing to do with the piling on yesterday on my posts adjudged by one of my adoring fans as "insanely idiotic" and "self-serving".   Go ahead, punks, make my day.  :-)

*Like Vinny, pressure becomes me:  "Lisa, I don't need this. I swear to God, I do not need this right now, okay? I've got a judge that's just aching to throw me in jail. An idiot who wants to fight me for two hundred dollars. Slaughtered pigs. Giant loud whistles. I ain't slept in five days. I got no money, a dress code problem, AND a little murder case which, in the balance, holds the lives of two innocent kids. Not to mention your
[taps his foot]
BIOLOGICAL CLOCK - my career, your life, our marriage, and let me see, what else can we pile on? Is there any more SHIT we can pile on to the top of the outcome of this case? Is it possible?" (My Cousin Vinny", starring Joe Pesci and the voluptuous Marisa Tomei)*

Yeah, I'm Vinny.....udachick stompin' her foot, RD

Oh, and I'm not gonna mention the guy's name, but I live within short walking distance of The Venue:  guess why I don't give 'em any business...

Anyway,

After watching Jeff Niemann hurl that gem last night, I got to thinking about the tallest pitchers in Baseball and guys I remember watching who were unusually tall in a sport that features mostly guys in the 5'10" to 6'1" range according the Baseball Almanac's height chart.

Niemann is 6'9" and dwarfed the meeters on the mound in the seventh inning, as I recall.  Some pretty big guys attended that meeting.  Niemann is not only tall, he's big, listed at 260.  Niemmann was the fourth overall pick and the Rays top pick in the 2004 draft.  At age 26, he appears to be on the verge of the stardom projected for him out of Rice University.  He's now 6-1 in his last ten starts that still have me gawking at the inconsistency and good luck:  7, 8, 9 inning outings interspersed with 3, 4, 5 inning outings, but enough 5-plus in those ten to get seven decisions.

The tallest player of alltime is Jon Rauch, formerly of Washington, now with the D'Backs, another one of my past "local favorites", the Dodgers being my all-time fave, the Rays being my local fave for two and a half seasons now.

I attended numerous games in Arizona in the years 2003 to 2007, as the desert and baseball (Spring Training, it was the Cubs, as I could walk to Hohokam Field from my apartment in Mesa)  provided me retreat and wound-licking space from the end of my 34-year marriage.

Of course, Randy Johnson was with the D'Backs during two of those seasons that I was a D'Backs fan.  The Big Unit is 6'10" and, along with Chris Young of the Padres is in second place all-time to Jon Rauch.  RJ only weighs 225, at an inch taller than Niemann.  It was my luck to be in the old stadium in Seattle early in 1993, I believe,  when Randy had his famous sideline session with the visiting team's legend, Nolan Ryan.   From that time forward, Randy Johnson became a dominant pitcher, not just a thrower.

Sidenote:  I was also in the stands in Seattle  the night of September 22, 1993 when Nolan Ryan, after giving up the tenth grand slam of his career in the first inning, tore a ligament in his arm and finished his career two starts earlier than planned.  It was also the worst start of his career.  I left the stands and went out into the Seattle night, grieving over that ignominious end to the fabulous career of Nolan Ryan.  Those were my drinking days and so you know I imbibed some serious Jack Daniel's that night.   For the committed drunk, life affords plenty of opportunitites to celebrate or mourn like that.

Certain tall guys stand out in my yesteryear memory, guys like Gene Conley who pitched in the major leagues AND played in the NBA.    Conley, at 6'8",  was a standout backup rebounder who helped the Boston Celtics to three championships (1959-61);  he also played for the Milwaukee Braves when they won the World Series in 1957.  His eleven seasons in MLB saw him accumulate 91 wins (against 96 losses) with an ERA in the high threes and 888 Ks.  Conley is 79.

Don Drysdale was 6'6" as I recall.....he holds, I believe the record for hit batsmen.  One helluva pitcher.   One hitter reportedly said that the trick to facing Drysdale was to "hit him before he hits you."

The Tall Pitch, by all accounts, is a harder pitch to hit because of the ilusion created by the closer-to-the-batter release point, the downhill throw to shorter people and the "all arms and legs and meanface" of the behemoth on the mound.

The tallest pitcher in professional baseball today is Loek Van Mil down here playing with the Fort Myers Miracle.  At 7'1", the Dutch national star Van Mil is 24 and three promotions away from the major leagues....in the Twins organization.  He's a relief pitcher who just overcame arm problems to restart his minor league career.

It's a long way to the Majors at any height and there are no guarantees.  Ask Eddie Gaedel.  Actually he made it for one appearance BECAUSE of his height  and because the showman/hustler who brought him to the Major Leagues for a day was the master of all novelties, Bill Veeck.  Gaedel stood all of 3'7" and weighed in, for his one AB, at 65 pounds. 

His strike zone was reported to be 1.5 inches.  Bob Cain, the opposing pitcher, appeared to be Goliath as he hurled four straight balls at the dwarf.

Before the game, Veeck had warned Gaedel not to move the bat off of his shoulder at the risk of being shot.

Cain's catcher went out to the mound and advised Cain:  "Keep the ball Low".

And they call ME the Guru Of The Obvious......

GOTO out.

--Steve Pipkin-Savage, Clearwater, FL

Relevant Stat of the Day:  from 1989 to the present, Randy Johnson has pitched 4131 innings in MLB, with a lifetime 3.29 ERA, winning 303 while losing 166 and has struckout 4869 dwarfs.  He also has two saves.

This post was written by a member of the DRaysBay community and does not necessarily express the views or opinions of DRaysBay staff.

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