Last night, with baseball on TV, a friend and I got into a discussion of odd things we’d seen in games through the years, and I brought up The Folly Floater. That was a novelty pitch thrown by Steve Hamilton of the Yankees in which he stopped his motion halfway through and launched the ball into a high arc that came straight down through the strike zone. He didn’t use it often, but when he did, it befuddled batters used to fastballs, sliders, and curves.
The Folly Floater was referred to as an “Eephus Pitch,” which is described on Wikipedia thusly:
An invention attributed to Rip Sewell of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1940s. According to manager Frankie Frisch, the pitch was named by outfielder Maurice Van Robays. When asked what it meant, Van Robays replied, “‘Eephus ain’t nothing, and that’s a nothing pitch.” Although the origin is not known for certain, Eephus may come from the Hebrew word “efes” (pronounced “EFF-ess”), meaning “nothing.”
Naturally, I checked YouTube to see if anyone had posted footage of Hamilton throwing The Folly Floater, and found this. It’s from July 24, 1970, when the Yankees played a double-header with the Cleveland Indians. The batter is Tony Horton, who fouls off The Folly Floater — and then tells Hamilton to try another one. That doesn’t work out, either. The high-energy announcer describing the action is Phil Rizzuto…