The Knuckle Princess

Anne Chadwick Williams for The New York Times

Here’s an article in the New York Times this morning about an 18-year-old, 5-foot-1 Japanese girl pitching in an independent baseball league in California. She’s apparently known as the “Knuckle Princess” in her homeland. The knuckler is held with the nails of the index and middle fingers dug into the ball’s laces and is really more pushed off than thrown. The object is to keep the ball from spinning, which results in air pressure making it “dance” unpredictably. It can be very effective, especially on humid, heavy days. (Catchers hate it, though. It fools them as much as it fools the batter. Hence Bob Uecker’s famous advice on how to catch one: “Wait ’til it stops rolling, and pick it up.”)

Good luck, Eri!

(From the photo I at first thought she might be the only sidearm knuckleballer in captivity. But when you look carefully you can see the photographer caught her throwing a breaking ball. I’d stick with the knuckler, kid.)

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