Baccellieri: No one threw harder than Steve Dalkowski

From Emma Baccellieri at Sports Illustrated on April 27, 2020:

There is no space left for mythmaking in baseball.

There are plenty of stories, more of them than ever, both spreading wider and digging deeper. And, of course, there are still mysteries—problems, loose theories, questions with no answers. But myths? The same wealth of information that allows for all those new stories closes off any new myths. It comes from cameras, databases, exhaustive records; Twitter, Statcast, Baseball-Reference; worldwide, all the time, saved forever. You can find so many stories in that information. But where can you find the little pocket of air necessary to make a myth?

Which is all to say: Baseball will never see another Steve Dalkowski. The pitcher who inspired Nuke LaLoosh from Bull Durham died last week in Connecticut due to complications from COVID-19 at age 80. He threw like no one else. He was said to be the fastest ever—maybe that’s true, maybe it isn’t, there’s no way to call it conclusively. But it leaves Dalkowski as one of the most notable what-ifs in baseball history and, more than that, as the source for one its most intriguing bouts of mythmaking.

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Originally published: April 29, 2020. Last Updated: April 29, 2020.