Japanese right-hander Kazuhito Tadano is no stranger to eephus pitches. But this might be his most epic attempt yet.
On Monday, with his Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters facing the Hanshin Tigers, Tadano tossed a most extreme arcing pitch toward batter Mauro Gomez. It landed safely in the catcher’s hands, having gone right across the plate … but the umpire had no idea what to do with it.
With two strikes already on the board against the batter, Mauro Gomez, Tadano threw a slow, looping pitch that rose about six metres into the air before dropping perfectly into the catcher’s mitt.
Incredibly, the umpire called it as a ball instead of a strike. Perhaps he was in shock.
Tadano’s trick is called the “Eephus pitch”. It’s been around since the 1940s, but has become extremely rare in professional baseball.
Tadano’s team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, ended up losing the game 4-1, but the pitcher’s bold play will undoubtedly live longer in our memories than the scoreline.
On a 1-2 count, Tadano tossed the ball some 20 feet in the air before it made its slow descent into the catcher’s mitt – confusing everyone from batter Mauro Gomez, to the TV cameraman to the umpire, who called a ball even though the pitch landed over the plate.
Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters pitcher Kazuhito Tadano gets the credit for this doozy of a delivery in a recent Nippon Professional Baseball game against the Hanshin Tigers, tossing the eephus pitch to end all eephus pitches.
What is an Eephus Pitch?
An Eephus pitch (also spelled Ephus) in baseball is a very low speed junk pitch. The delivery from the pitcher has very low velocity and usually catches the hitter off-guard.
Its invention is 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 אפס (pronounced “EFF-ess”), meaning “nothing”.
The Eephus pitch is thrown overhand like most pitches, but is characterized by an unusual, high arcing trajectory with a peak around 20–25 feet.
The corresponding slow velocity bears more resemblance to a slow-pitch softball delivery than to a traditional baseball pitch.
It is considered a trick pitch because, in comparison to normal baseball pitches – which run from 70 to 100 miles per hour – an Eephus pitch appears to move in slow motion at 55 miles per hour or less, sometimes into the low-40s. Read more…