Monday, September 24, 2012

Major League Baseball pitchers Tim Wakefield and Phil Niekro talk about being some of the few pitchers in the entire history of baseball who mastered the art of the knuckleball, a pitch so slow and unpredictable that no one trusts it. They’re joined by Ricki Stern, director of the new documentary “Knuckleball,” which follows the Major League’s only knuckleballers in 2011, Boston Red Sox Tim Wakefield and Mets pitcher R. A. Dickey. “Knuckleball!” is playing at the IFC Center.


Phil Niekro and Tim Wakefield

Comments [8]

philip horrocks

No spin = no giro effect. Therefor the ball trajectory becomes unpredictable

Sep. 25 2012 06:58 AM
Ed from Larchmont

It's a shame Tim Wakefield is retiring.

Sep. 25 2012 05:50 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I'm not sure if this is the same Scientific American article T&B mentioned, but there's an "Ask the Experts" answer from a physics professor in 2002 at

Sep. 24 2012 12:43 PM
john from office

I Saw A Bronx Tale over the weekend. Mickey Mantle will not pay your rent. Sports is a narcotic for the masses. More people care about sports or who married what rap star then who becomes President, mayor, senator Etc. The outcome of an election will move the world, who wins in sports means nothing. Name one event that occured in Rome and who won, bet you can name the emperor.

Sep. 24 2012 12:26 PM

My take on why the lack of spin causes the knuckleball's properties: as the ball rotates, the position of the stitches consistently alternates between inducing the ball to curve left to inducing it to curve right, with the result that it would average straight. If the ball does not rotate, the air pressure on the ball remains consistent on its path keeping the arc of curvature consistent. A slow rotation would result in slight change in the curvature; enough to reduce predictability in the ball's path, but not enough to straighten it out.

Sep. 24 2012 12:23 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I wonder if the difference btwn. how a knuckleball moves & the way other pitches move is like the difference btwn. how a bullet flies from an unrifled & a rifled barrel--the spin on the ball or the bullet makes its path straighter.

Sep. 24 2012 12:16 PM

Send in the physicists! My best guess is that, because the knuckleball is not spinning, turbulence from atmospheric conditions, from the throw itself and from the structure of the baseball dominate the ball's motion. Spinning tends to stabilize the ball.

Sep. 24 2012 12:10 PM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

There was an article in Scientific American a number of years ago analyzing the physics behind the knuckleball. Anyone read that?

Sep. 24 2012 12:02 PM

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