ImageA knuckleball or knuckler is a baseball pitch thrown so as to minimize the spin of the ball in flight, causing an erratic, unpredictable motion.(

You might not expect that a documentary about an uncommon baseball pitch would be entertaining – especially if you aren’t a die-hard baseball fan or a high school pitcher trying to learn to throw this erratic pitch.

Nevertheless, my nine-year-old son was transfixed by KnuckleBall! from beginning to end. He even argued against changing the channel when my wife showed up (I had told him we should out of respect for her interest). But when we kept watching, she was just as enraptured as the two of us had been.

Knuckleball tells the story of two current practitioners of the pitch, Tim Wakefield, of the Boston Red Sox, and RA Dickie, of the New York Mets. Both men had had trouble finding a place in professional ball until quite late in their career. And both attribute the knuckleball to saving their careers.

This is typical of knuckleball pitchers though. Unlike the fastball and curve, the knuckler is best achieved at a slower speed and takes much more patience to master. As such, while fastball pitchers wear out quicker, a knuckleball hurler might stay in the pros for much longer.


Name         Retirement age            Fastest Pitch(mph)


Candiotti             42

Hough                46

J. Niekro             44

P. Niekro             48

Wakefield            45


Verlander            39                               102

Wood                 35                               100

Zumaya              26                               104.8


Data from list (above)


(Note: while there are very few Knucklers today, there are a number of retired knucklers for me to choose from in making this list – based entirely on players appearing on or mentioned in the documentary, most of the fastest fastball pitchers are still playing.)


When the credits started to roll, I was reminded of PT Barnam’s quote, “Always leave them wanting more.”



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