The Drop Ball
One pitch I didn't mention in the Curveball, Changeup article was the deadly Drop ball pitch that I learned to throw. In today's game it may be called a sinker, but I don't think the sinker has the same action as my drop ball. I would grip the ball the same as I would grip for a curveball. The delivery was straight overhead, whereas the curveball was three-quarter. By using the same grip, but throwing straight overhead with a snap of my wrist, the ball would go straight until it approached the plate then dive, hitting in the dirt just an inch or so behind the plate, sometimes hitting on top of the plate. The batter would swing, but the ball " dropped off the table " before he could get the bat around. If he didn't swing the umpire would call it a strike because from his line of site he didn't see the ball dive to the plate so abruptly.
After a couple of games the opposing coaches had a pregame conference with the umpire while I was warming up. I noticed them pointing in my direction a time or two. I found out what they were talking about after I threw the dropball to the second batter I faced. The call was a strike. The ump came out to the mound. " Pitcher, you are making me look bad when you throw that pitch", he said softly. " All that the people in the stands and the other coaches see is the ball hitting in the dirt and reason that it should be called a ball, not a strike. Try only to use it when you feel you really think you have to." I smiled and nodded. He returned back behind the plate.
I didn't throw that pitch the rest of the game. The batters were looking for that pitch so much that it made my fastball more effective. They would swing under it thinking the ball was going to drop. They would only hit a foul ball at best. I threw my first no-hit game!
I was staying in one of my favorite casino hotels in Biloxi, MS. I had played there all week because everytime that I was on my way out of the hotel, thinking I might try another casino for a session, I would decide to play there again because most of the players from previous sessions had decided to play again. They were all competent and serious. I felt very comfortable at this table.
We were all having so-so hands as the dice moved around the table. One of the dealers mentioned that the chips were getting harder to handle because it was raining and the humidity was up. I looked at the guy to my right and he looked at me. I knew that the same thought had crossed our minds.
The dice came to me. I gripped the dice a little deeper with my front fingers to slow the revolutions down because of the humidity. After about ten rolls into the hand, it was obvious to everyone at the table that I was going to hold the dice awhile and they loaded their bets up. About twenty rolls into the hand, one of the dice didn't hit the wall. The box jumped on this opportunity to try to break my rhythm and concentration with a warning. The other players grumbled and booed the boxman. He retorted " I'm not going to lose my job over it". His superiors were pretty tough evidently. I smiled and said, " I know you're doing your job." "That's why you get the big bucks!" I heard a laugh from the pit boss as he moved across the floor to another table. Evidently the box was under the gun from the pit and the eye in the sky. Tensions were eased all around after I said that. Every player at the table had good hands without heat. I mentioned to the guy next to me that I was quitting because I didn't want to wear out my welcome. He was savvy enough to know that I'd reached my win limit. Several of the other players had the same thought and before long the table was empty.
The next time we played at that table we were greeted on a first name basis and the pit seemed a little friendlier, not as businesslike. Understanding the perspectives from both sides of the fence can be rewarding instead of being combative.
Color me up!