Sox Keep The Knuckleball Beat Going


The golden age of the knuckleballer is upon us. Could it be any more apparent? R.A. Dickey has won a Cy Young award for goodness sake.

Sep 25, 2011; Bronx, NY, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Tim Wakefield (49) pitches during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

All those that have gone before him – Phil Neikro, Wilbur Wood, Charlie Hough, Hoyt Wilhelm, Tim Wakefield and many others – are likely smiling broadly as the quirky, weirdo image that has shrouded the black art of knuckleballers just may be evolving into a viable, mainstream pitching art form.

Wakefield may likely be that last of the true 68-72 mph flutterballers, captains who guided their spheres like mystics as much as athletes. All that has changed with R.A Dickey. His darting and dodging knuckler catapults toward batters at 80 plus mph, making the degree of difficulty exponentially more difficult if you’re the guy with the stick in your hands. If you’ve ever been in a batter’s box and faced the special hell that is a knuckleball on a good day – for them – you are both impressed and depressed about Dickey’s 2012 achievement that has ushered in a new era of what it means to throw the queer pitch.

In honor of that tradition and Dickey’s new take on one of the strangest disciplines in all of sports (think about a QB who insists that the best way to throw a ball to a receiver is end over end for instance), the Red Sox are throwing their hat in their ring again, not once but twice.

The Sox recently signed Charlie Haeger — again. The 29-year-old sports a grand total of 34 games of major league experience. Haeger is your garden variety knuckler, although with former knuckleballer Tim Wakefield signed on as an advisor to the Red Sox, that could change.

More interesting is Steven Wright, part of Boston’s current 40-man roster and a Dickey disciple. Wright, like Dickey, has a slightly different grip and gets the ball to the plate with a little more pop than his predecessors. If Wright can master both the velocity and serendipity of the knuckler, Boston could have a wild card stumper in their midst.

Turn the beat around
Love to hear percussion
Turn it upside down
Love to hear percussion
Love to hear it
– Turn The Beat Around, Gloria Estefan