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The art of scuffing

Apr 25, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

Joe Niekro

Dirk Hayhurst used to be a professional pitcher. A professional pitcher with arm trouble. As a result, he had to go all Eddie Harris from time to time. Today, at Sports on Earth, he reveals what he knows about the fine art of the scuff:

Doug Brocail could get a fresh ball back from the umpire and, within three windmill-like movements of his throwing arm, have a ball so scuffed you’d think he just took sandpaper to it, though he used nothing more than his thumbnail. My pitching coach in A ball, Dave Rajsich, told me of a teammate who once cut the red Rawlings “R” out of his glove only to replace it with a red (painted) sandpaper facsimile, with a painted white “R” in the center. He’d pass the ball over the letter like he was casually adjusting his mitt.

Great stuff. And an excuse to think about Joe Niekro and his emery board. The best part of which was his smooth-as-crap attempt to get rid of it as the umps searched him. I could watch it all day.

  1. umrguy42 - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    Who else chuckled at “an umpire’s eyes don’t miss a thing”?

  2. DelawarePhilliesFan - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:14 PM

    Let us not forget his attempt to turn lemons into lemonade on Letterman. Dave was just happy he could say “ball scuffing”

  3. racksie - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    The look on the umps face with his hand on his chin is priceless. It was almost like he what was coming. And Hrbek just watching it was hilarious. I remember watching that game and for about three pitches before that moment the catcher, Tim Laudner I believe kept looking at the ball. And I remember thinking, hmmm a knuckleballer throwing a spitball makes sense.

  4. elmo - Apr 25, 2014 at 2:37 PM

    It was pretty hilarious last season when Hayhurst called out Clay Bucholz, and certain baseball people dismissed him out of hand because he never made it in the big leagues. Hilarious because being a career minor leaguer was exactly what qualified him to talk about about what some players will resort to in order to get an edge. Er sorry, I mean to “get a better grip.” Totally different thing there. Completely unrelated.

    • randomdigits - Apr 25, 2014 at 3:33 PM

      2008 with the Padres and 2009 with the Blue Jays.

      39.1 IP in all.

      • elmo - Apr 25, 2014 at 3:47 PM

        Yeah. I know. Tell that to Dennis Eckersley, and whoever else took that line against Hayhurst last year.

    • clemente2 - Apr 25, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      Yes, like Cone and Leiter on Pineda. Just like police and teachers, protect your own no matter the facts.

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