The Eephus: A David and Goliath Story

The Eephus: A David and Goliath Story

One day in June of 1998, Bob Tewksbury defeated Mark McGwire with one of baseball’s most obscure pitches, the eephus.

The elusive eephus pitch is one of baseball’s most effective pitches. According to many, the eephus was invented by Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Rip Sewell way back in the 1930’s.

Rip Sewell's eephus grip (Source:
Rip Sewell’s eephus grip (Source:

According to Frank Jackson of The Hardball Times, Sewell created the pitch after shooting himself in a hunting accident.  With buckshot in his foot, Sewell had to readjust his pitching mechanics, and naturally turned to an overhand delivery.

This change of mechanics inspired him to develop a blooper or eephus pitch with a shotput-like delivery and lots of backspin.

Since then, many pitchers have adopted the infamous eephus pitch and have given it their own unique twist.

One of those pitchers was a former 14-year veteran pitcher named Dave LaRoche. Dave LaRoche called his eephus pitch “LaLob,” a play on his last name. A good example of the “LaLob” came in an at bat against Gorman Thomas in 1981. La Roche struck Thomas out with a high arching eephus pitch that made the Yankee stadium crowd go absolutely wild.

Dave LaRoche coached Bob Tewksbury (aka “Tewks”) when he was with the Yankees, and it was from LaRoche that Tewks learned to throw what he calls, “The Two-Finger Wiggle” aka “The Dominator.” For the rest of his career, Tewks would feature the eephus in his repertoire, but would rarely use it because, in his own words, “you can’t overexpose such a deadly weapon like that.”

Well, after facing Mark McGwire smashed an inside fastball off of Tewksbury in 1997 to dead center, the next time both men would face off, in 1998, Tewks had a trick up his sleeve.

That night, June 28, 1998, Bob Tewksbury would hold Mark McGwire to 1-3. McGwire would go hitless on the eephus pitch.

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