Eephus pitch

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An Eephus pitch (also spelled Ephus) in baseball is a very low speed junk pitch.[1] The delivery from the pitcher has very low velocity and usually catches the hitter off-guard. Its invention is attributed to Rip Sewell of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1940s. According to manager Frankie Frisch, the pitch was named by outfielder Maurice Van Robays. When asked what it meant, Van Robays replied, "'Eephus ain't nothing, and that's a nothing pitch." Although the origin is not known for certain, Eephus may come from the Hebrew word אפס (pronounced "EFF-ess"), meaning "nothing".[2]

The Eephus pitch is thrown overhand like most pitches, but is characterized by an unusual, high arcing trajectory with a peak around 20–25 feet.[3][4] The corresponding slow velocity bears more resemblance to a slow-pitch softball delivery than to a traditional baseball pitch. It is considered a trick pitch because, in comparison to normal baseball pitches – which run from 70 to 100 miles per hour – an Eephus pitch appears to move in slow motion at 55 miles per hour or less, sometimes into the low-40s.

Development and use in Major League Baseball[edit]

After appearing in over 300 major league games, Rip Sewell gave up only one career home run off the Eephus, to Ted Williams in the 1946 All-Star Game. Williams challenged Sewell to throw the Eephus. Sewell obliged, and Williams fouled off the pitch. However, Sewell then announced that he was going to throw the pitch again, and Williams clobbered it for a home run.[5][6] Years later, however, Williams admitted that he had been running towards the pitcher’s mound as he hit the ball, and photographs reveal that he was in fact a few feet in front of the batter’s box when he made contact.[3][7] Since under Rule 6.06(a) of the Official Baseball Rules, a batter is out for illegal action when he hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter's box, Williams would have been out had it been spotted by the home plate umpire.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee threw an eephus referred to as the "Leephus," "spaceball," or "moon ball."[8] Pitching for the Boston Red Sox in the Game 7 of the 1975 World Series, the Red Sox were up 3–0 when Lee threw three eephus pitches to Tony Pérez with a runner on base. The third resulted in a towering two-run home run and the Red Sox would go on to lose the game 4–3, costing them the chance for their first World Series championship since 1918.[2]

Other pitchers known to have employed the Eephus pitch include: Pedro Borbón,[9] Casey Fossum (called the Fossum Flip[10]), Steve Hamilton of the New York Yankees (the folly floater);[11] Liván Hernández, Phil Niekro;[12] Orlando Hernández, Dave LaRoche (LaLob), Vicente Padilla (dubbed the soap bubble by Vin Scully),[9][13] Satchel Paige,[14] Pascual Perez (the Pascual Pitch), Kazuhito Tadano,[15] Bob Tewksbury and[16] Carlos Villanueva [17]

Other nicknames for the Eephus pitch include the balloon ball, blooper ball, gondola, parachute, rainbow pitch – distinct from the rainbow curve,[4] gravity curve, and Bugs Bunny curve, a reference to the Bugs Bunny cartoon where batters swing three times at a pitch before the ball reaches the plate.[citation needed]



  1. ^ The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary. Harvest Books. January 1999. p. 284. ISBN 0-15-600580-8. Retrieved 2009-01-21. 
  2. ^ a b Paul Jackson (July 17, 2008). "The something pitch". ESPN. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  3. ^ a b John Donovan (April 16, 2004). "'LaLob' it in". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Paul Dickson (13 June 2011). The Dickson Baseball Dictionary. W. W. Norton & Company. pp. 287–288, 686. ISBN 978-0-393-34008-2. Retrieved August 15, 2012. 
  5. ^ Virginia Hanley (July 2, 1999). "Ted Williams and the Eephus Pitch". The Melrose Mirror. SilverStringers. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  6. ^ "Rip Sewell, 'Eephus Ball' Pitcher For Pittsburgh Pirates, Dies at 82". New York Times. September 5, 1989. Retrieved 2009-01-16. 
  7. ^ John Shea (2007-06-30). "The Day Rip Got Ripped by Ted". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 30, 2007. 
  8. ^ Kirkpatrick, Curry (August 7, 1978), "In An Orbit All His Own", Sports Illustrated, ISSN 0038-822X, retrieved August 9, 2012 
  9. ^ a b Gurnick, Ken (August 9, 2010). "Padilla's 'Soap Bubble' baffling hitters". MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved August 2, 2012. 
  10. ^ Pingle, Brad, "Notes: Fossum introduces new quirk",, July 31, 2005
  11. ^ Litsky, Frank (December 4, 1997). "Steve Hamilton, 62, 'Floater' Pitcher for Yankees". New York Times. Retrieved June 16. 
  12. ^ "Sox bats knuckle under". Chicago Tribune. July 10, 1986. 
  13. ^ Jackson, Tony (July 7, 2010). "Masterful on the mound". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved July 8, 2010. 
  14. ^ James, Bill; Neyer, Rob (2004). The Neyer/James guide to pitchers: an historical compendium of pitching, pitchers, and pitches. New York: Simon & Schuster. pp. 333–37. ISBN 9780743261586. 
  15. ^ Bob Hohler (May 5, 2004). "Despite dramatics in ninth, Red Sox lose fifth straight". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  16. ^ AP (28 June 1998). "Speed bump: Tewksbury slows down McGwire with 44 mph lobs". CNN/SI. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  17. ^ David Brown (23 August 2013). "Carlos Villanueva’s 57-mph eephus pitch vexes Jayson Werth". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 

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