Major League Baseball might be locked down, but The Stud 400 is off and running and we’re moving ahead at record speed, quite literally. Have you ever wondered who threw the fastest pitch in a Major League Baseball game? It’s a question not as easily answered as you might think. Evolution in velocity-measuring technology has caused pitches to be measured at different places in the ball’s flight path and it’s difficult to adjust those measurements based on era. The debate among the game’s fastest pitch joins a group of entries that includes a groundbreaking female umpire, tragedy surrounding a Hall of Fame catcher and a coming-out party for The Cobra.
Before we move on to this week’s edition of The Stud 400, here’s look at last week’s entries as we count down the 400 greatest moments in Major League Baseball history:
- Bartolo Colon’s home run (2016)
- The London Series (2019)
- Yankees Public Address Announcer Bob Sheppard retires at 96 (2007)
- Pie Traynor steals home in All-Star Game (1934)
- Stan Musial retires with exactly 1,815 hits on the road and at home (1963)
And now, here’s Episode Two of The Stud 400, featuring artwork by Will O’Toole.
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Pam Postema’s pioneering umpire career (1988)
In 1988, Pam Postema earned a Spring Training assignment to become the first woman to umpire Major League Spring Training games. She had previously become the first female umpire in single-A and AA. Postema’s accomplishment landed her on the cover of Sports Illustrated when that was still a fairly big deal. A highly-regarded umpire who spent 13 seasons in the minor leagues, Postema never did get the call to umpire in a Major League regular season game. However, she was nevertheless a pioneer decades before female officials broke through on the highest levels of professional sport.
Mets and Cubs play first MLB games outside of North America (2000)
The Mets and Cubs embarked on a 16-hour flight to begin the 2000 season in Japan. It was the first time a Major League Baseball game was played outside of North America and was won by the Cubs, 5-3. For the record, Damon Buford was the first Major League player to record a hit outside of North America with a single in the first. Mike Piazza was the first to homer, connecting for a two-run shot in the eighth. The game, which started at 5:00am Eastern Standard Time, was attended by a sold-out crowd of 55,000 people. The game also marked the Mets debut of Mike Hampton, who picked up the loss.
Mickey Cochrane beaning ends Hall of Fame career (1937)
Going into the 1937 season, Mickey Cochrane was on the short list of the best catchers the game had ever seen. A two-time MVP, three-time World Series champ and owner of a .320 career batting average, Cochrane appeared to have multiple productive seasons left when fate took over. The player-manager took a fastball to the temple from Yankees righty Bump Hadley and was in serious danger from the start. The beaning immediately drew comparisons to Carl Mays’ fatal beaning of Ray Chapman and word of Cochrane’s hospitalization brought deep concerns. While no surgery was needed and Cochrane was ultimately fine, it ended the career of “Black Mike,” one of the greatest catchers to ever play.
Dave Parker’s All-Star Game cannon throws (1979)
There was a period of time where Dave Parker was the most complete baseball player in the world. A true five-tool player, Parker’s most awe-inspiring tool was his throwing arm, which is among the best in the game’s history. The All-Star Game was the perfect showcase in the pre-ESPN eras for players like Parker to be exposed to a national audience. The Cobra unleashed two throws that remain iconic to this day. After losing a Jim Rice pop up in the Kingdome roof, Parker recovered deep down the right field line and fired a one-hop strike to third, with little more than a small hop to balance himself, to nail Rice. Later, Parker also threw an absolute laser on the fly from deep down the right field line to cut down Brian Downing, who was trying to score from second. Videos of the throws have combined for hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and are still talked about today as two of the best throws in Major League history.
Also, if you want to see BallNine’s interview with The Cobra… Click here.
Aroldis Chapman throws the fastest recorded pitch in a game—or does he? (2010)
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the fastest pitch ever thrown in a Major League Baseball game was hucked by Aroldis Chapman. It came when Chapman was a rookie and clocked in at 105.8 MPH, which registered as 106 on the game broadcast. PITCH/FX was implemented in 2006, and that pitch, which was taken inside for a ball by Andrew McCutchen, is definitively the fastest pitch recorded by that system. The debate begins when talking about the flamethrowers who took the mound prior to 2006. The documentary Fastball claims Nolan Ryan may have topped out at 108 and Bob Feller at 107, but that is something we’ll never know as pitch speed was measured entirely different during their respective eras.
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Stay tuned for next week’s entries in The Stud 400 when we’ll visit with The Kid, Wee Willie, Happy Jack and the Millville Meteor.