Wyatt: Lefties of the 1950s

From Daniel Wyatt at The National Pastime Museum on December 10, 2014:

In the 1890s, baseball teams built their parks for the pitchers to face west. As a result, a left-hander’s elbow pointed south. Hence the term “southpaw.”

Southpaw pitchers can appear tricky because they’re not as common as righties. Everything seems to be in reverse when they’re on the mound, one reason why a good southpaw is worth his weight in gold to any manager. The 1950s, in particular, produced a slew of remarkable lefties…

Warren Spahn was the winningest lefty of the decade collected 202 wins, with the Boston-Milwaukee Braves. He’s also the winningest lefty of all time with 363 victories, sixth on the all-time list. A 20-game winner eight times in the 1950s, he was noted for a high kick that distracted the hitter and would hide what he was throwing. Using this deception, he’d show the batter the sole of his right cleat, then his glove, then the ball, concluding with a fluid follow-through. “Hitting is timing,” he used to say. “Pitching is upsetting timing.” He also said, “A pitcher needs two pitches—one they’re looking for and the other to cross them up.”

Spahn won the Cy Young Award in 1957 at the age of 36. By then his fastball didn’t quite have the ol’ zip anymore, so he had converted to changing speeds with an assortment of pitches—a screwball, a slider, and a great overhand curve that fell off the table.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/lefties-1950s

Originally published: December 11, 2014. Last Updated: December 11, 2014.