Knuckleballers Aren't Appreciated

T.J. MorrillCorrespondent INovember 10, 2008


By no means am I Red Sox fan. I am just a knuckleball fanatic—thought I'd get that out of the way to start off.

As the title infers this thread is to try to find any reason for why knuckleballers aren't appreciated as much as they used to be. There are only two knuckleballers in the Major Leagues right now, Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey.

I know of two in AAA, Charlie Zinkand Charlie Haeger. Some other non-MLB knucklers are Joe Gannon, Simon Ferrer and Jared Fernandez. Why aren't more teams trying to find knuckleballers?

Usually when a knuckleballer is given a chance to develop he excels and finds a way to be successful. Such names as Early Wynn, Hoyt Wilhelm, The Niekro Brothers, Gene Bearden, Dutch Leonard, Charlie Hough, and Wilbur Wood are all included in this lore of astounding and unusual pitchers.

Why then, given the success of most knuckleballers, do scouts and managers try to avoid them? Especially given how hard they've worked to get there. Trust me, it took me forever to get to where I could throw a knuckler—still spins from time to time though.

Is it because nobody knows how to coach it? Well, don't tell me other pitchers don't have their individual style that can't really be taught. The same basic principles of pitching still apply to a knuckleballer, they aren't just side-show clowns brought in for amusement.

They still change speeds, mix in some other pitches even, they use location to some extent (high-low), and they definitely have to hold runners.

Is it because nobody knows how to catch it? Well, look at Doug Mirabelli, enough practice at it made it catchable. A knuckleballer will just have to get a specialty catcher for themselves. 

There is no reason for this prejudice scouts have against knuckleballers, especially if they have a catcher they already practice with.