The Yankes beat the Rangers yesterday 10-3 while collecting 19 hits, of which 15 were singles and the rest doubles, an oddity in itself for the AL leader in home runs. But the oddest moment of all was when starter El Duque Hernandez threw not one but two eephus pitches-in a row-to Alex Rodriguez, the major-league leader in home runs. The first was a ball. The second landed in the left-field seats. It came in at 53 miles per hour and probably went out a little faster.
I have never understood the eephus pitch. The idea is that the pitch is so slow that it throws off the hitter's rhythm. But a major-league hitter should be well-equiped enough to spot the ball and make the necessary adjustments.
Pittsburgh Pirate Rip Sewell is well remembered for inventing, if you can call it that, the pitch. He had a good career with 143 wins against 97 losses, winning 20 games twice, and appearing in 4 All-Star games. He is probably best known for giving up a home run to Ted Williams (his second of the game) in the 1946 All-Star in Fenway Park with the eephus pitch. The legend of that pitch has grown as tidbits like Williams asking for the pitch, Sewell announcing the pitch on the toss that resulted in the homer, and Williams moving up a few feet to greet the ball.
Bugs Bunny established the major-league record while striking out three Gas House Gorillas with one slow pitch. He, of course, was pitching as well as playing all nine defensive positions.
The last appearance of the eephus that I know of was Dave LaRoche's LaLob, which he developed towards the tail end of his career. In the early '80s ('81, I think) with the Yankees, LaRoche struck out Gorman Thomas on an eephus after Thomas had tried to bunt the pitch earlier in the at-bat.