This guy was hurling baseballs and having their speed timed. He throws his first baseball – which clocks in at an impressive seventy-seven miles per hour. Some people think a decent average speed is between the high fifties and low sixties so seventy-seven is really fast. His friend is filming him and has him throw another ball – but decides at the last second to reposition the camera. The pitcher throws the ball and WHAM – it slams straight into the camera! You can hear the glass shatter as it does and the camera falls over to the ground in its dying moments. “Oh yeah!” shouts the guy manning the camera.
So what do we know about fastballs? Quite a lot! The fastball is the most common type of pitch thrown by pitchers in baseball and softball. “Power pitchers,” such as former American major leaguers Nolan Ryan and Roger Clemens, rely on speed to prevent the ball from being hit and have thrown fastballs at speeds of 95–105 miles per hour. The appearance of a faster pitch can sometimes be achieved by minimizing the batter’s vision of the ball before its release. The result is known as an “exploding fastball”; a pitch that seems to arrive at the plate quickly despite its low velocity. Fastballs are usually thrown with backspin, so that the Magnus effect creates an upward force on the ball. This causes it to fall less rapidly than expected, and sometimes causes an optical illusion often called a rising fastball. Although it is impossible for a human to throw a baseball fast enough and with enough backspin for the ball to actually rise, to the batter the pitch seems to rise due to the unexpected lack of natural drop on the pitch. Whatever the outcome, just make sure you don’t have a camera in the way!
The four-seam fastball is the most common variant of the fastball. The pitch is used often by the pitcher to get ahead in the count or when he needs to throw a strike. This type of fastball is intended to have minimal lateral movement, relying more on its velocity. It is often perceived as the fastest pitch a pitcher throws, with recorded top speeds above 100 mph. The fastest pitch recognized by MLB was on September 25, 2010, at Petco Park in San Diego by then Cincinnati Reds left-handed relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman. It was clocked at one hundred and five-point-one miles per hour.
So kudos to this pitcher for getting it up to seventy-seven miles per hour on that one pitch. His friend/coach tells him to make sure his momentum isn’t pulling off in a certain direction because it will lead to a loss of velocity – and then he throws that killer second ball. I wish we knew how fast the second one went but we do know that they’ll be buying a new camera, that’s for sure.
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