History lesson: Learning curve

Many have claimed ownership over one of the most deceptive elements in the art of pitching. The one that merits the most, is the story of William Arthur “ Candy” Cummings and the invention of the curveball. Originally form Ware, Massachusetts, Cummings would make his debut at the tender age of 17 in the National League of Base Ball Players with the Excelsiors of Brooklyn. Hall of Fame writer, statician, historian, and considered to be the father of baseball Henry Chadwick made comments of Cummings promise in the sport of baseball. Reportedly in 1867, in Worcester, Ma., Candy Cummings would throw the first curveball.

After noticing the movement that sea shells when skipping them across the water, he began to try the very same technique with a baseball. After his first game of executing the new pitch, he would later say “I became fully convinced that I had succeeded … the batters were missing a lot of balls; I began to watch the flight of the ball through the air, and distinctly saw it curve.” ……and curve it did. Cummings played professional baseball until 1877. He would later pass away in 1924 at the age of 75 in Toledo, Ohio. His career stats were: Win-Loss record 145-94, Earned run average 2.49, Complete games 233.

He would inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939 by the Veterans Committee. This pitch would define the careers of many Major League Baseball pitching phenoms such as Sandy Koufax, Barry Zito, Bert Blyleven, Bob Feller, Dwight Gooden, and I’m sure you know the rest. So next time you’re skipping rocks or shells at the beach or by the lake with your kids or just for fun, remember…..this is where a part of baseball history started and do us a favor here at Through The Fence Baseball and please tip your cap.


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