A Q&A With Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger

From SABR member David Laurila at FanGraphs.com on August 17:

David Laurila: What is the key to throwing a knuckleball?

Charlie Haeger: First and foremost is being able to take the spin off the ball. Being able to throw a knuckleball isn’t something that a lot of people are able to do, just because you’re not familiar with it growing up. Basically, you have to make the ball rotate as little as possible.

Ideally, for me, would be half a turn, maybe three quarters of a rotation. With that, I can generate the best movement while still being able to command it. You can get away with ones that spin twice, but with anything over that you’re starting to mess with fire.

DL: How do you throw a baseball with little or no rotation?

CH: There is a particular way that I hold my hand, hold the baseball, and release it. But I don’t think there is one set-in-stone way that it has to be thrown. There is kind of a norm in the industry, although there obviously aren’t too many of us throwing one anymore.

What I try to do is keep my wrist as straight as I can when I let go of the baseball. I try to have my hand behind it, with my palm facing home plate.
My palm is [contacting] the ball, as well as two fingers — my index finger and middle finger. Technically, my nails are into the ball, not my knuckles. I kind of want the ball to pop out. That’s how you get it to leave your hand without spinning.

Read the full article here: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/qa-charlie-haeger-on-the-knuckleball/

Originally published: August 25, 2011. Last Updated: August 25, 2011.