Screwball (SC) | Glossary | (2024)

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Definition Grip Origin FAQs References


A screwball is a breaking ball designed to move in the opposite direction of just about every other breaking pitch. It is one of the rarest pitches thrown in baseball, mostly because of the tax it can put on a pitcher's arm. The movement on the screwball -- which travels toward the pitcher's arm side -- is caused by an extremely unorthodox throwing motion.


In throwing the screwball, the pitcher snaps his wrist in a manner that causes his palm to face away from his glove side. This is in stark contrast to sliders and curveballs, for which a pitcher snaps his wrist so that the palm is facing the glove side.

Because of the awkward arm motion, a screwball is exponentially tougher to throw than a curveball. But, in theory, it should have the same effect as a curve -- only breaking in the opposite direction.


The origins of the screwball are very difficult to trace, as it was considered to simply be a different version of a curveball in its early years. Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell, who used the screwball to rejuvenate his career, brought notoriety to the pitch.

Héctor Santiago and Brent Honeywell are two of the more recent pitchers to throw a screwball.

In A Call

"scroogie," "reverse curve"

Screwball (SC) | Glossary | (2024)


Why doesn t anyone throw the screwball anymore? ›

It is one of the rarest pitches thrown in baseball, mostly because of the tax it can put on a pitcher's arm.

What is the rarest pitch in the MLB? ›

The eephus is one of the rarest pitches thrown in baseball, and it is known for its exceptionally low speed and ability to catch a hitter off guard. Typically, an eephus is thrown very high in the air, resembling the trajectory of a slow-pitch softball pitch.

What pitch is hardest to hit? ›

What Is the Most Difficult Pitch to Hit in Baseball?
  • 103. Knuckleball. ...
  • Splitter. The splitter is a pitch that appears to be a fastball but drops suddenly as it reaches the plate. ...
  • Slider. ...
  • Changeup. ...
  • Curveball. ...
  • Sinker. ...
  • Cutter. ...
  • Forkball.

What is the hardest hit ball in baseball history? ›

Yet the hardest-hit baseball in history belongs to neither of them. It was actually hit by Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz, who hit a 122.4 mph single in August. The ball was nearly 3 mph faster than the record at the time, which belonged to Stanton.

What baseball pitch was banned? ›

Ban. In Major League Baseball (MLB), the spitball was banned in two stages. In the winter of 1919–1920, managers voted to partially ban the spitball. Each team was allowed to designate up to two pitchers who would be permitted to throw spitballs.

What is the fastest pitch in MLB history? ›

Chapman currently has the record for the fastest recorded pitch speed in MLB history, at 105.1 miles per hour (169.1 km/h), as well as the Guinness World Record for fastest baseball pitch.

What was the fastest pitch ever in the MLB? ›

What is the fastest pitch ever thrown? Aroldis Chapman officially holds the Guinness World Record for fastest baseball pitch with a 105.8 mph fastball. On Sept. 24, 2010, the Cincinnati Reds' pitcher set the record with a high-velocity pitch against the San Diego Padres.

What is the easiest pitch to hit in baseball? ›

Fastballs are straight and easier to hit, the pitchers believe, and therefore they are afraid to use their fastballs. Obviously, if a fastball is straight (no movement), then it becomes an inviting pitch for a hitter with good bat speed.

Is the screwball bad for your arm? ›

Although the American Sports Medicine Institute has no data on that rare bird, the screwballer, Fleisig told me, “The screwball is harder [to throw] but I don't think it's more stressful.” He acknowledges it may hurt more than throwing a curveball—that's why most people think it's more damaging—but pain does not ...

What is the least common pitch in baseball? ›

You might think the rarest pitch in the game is the knuckleball -- only two pitchers regularly throw it right now. But there is a pitch that only Brad Ziegler throws often. Ziegler throws a changeup -- out of a submarine arm slot.

Is Spider Tack illegal in baseball? ›

As a reminder, pitchers can use rosin or other league-approved substances to help them grip the baseballs, but they cannot go beyond that to substances such as spider tack, pine tar or a now-notorious mixture of sunscreen with sweat and other readily available things during the course of a game.

Which pitch is hardest on arm? ›

Notably for the focus on arm stress initially hypothesized in this study, sliders had the highest arm stress (54.6 ± 12.9 N·m) compared to curveballs which had the lowest (46.8 ± 16.3 N·m).

Is a knuckleball bad for your arm? ›

The knuckleball gets its name from the typical grip used to throw the pitch, with the knuckles either on the ball or hovering just over it while the fingernails dig into the surface. The pitch is thrown with relative ease, and as a result, knuckleballers typically have the least strain on their arm of all pitchers.

Which pitch is typically thrown the fastest? ›

Four-Seam Fastball (FF)

A four-seam fastball is almost always the fastest and straightest pitch a pitcher throws. It is also generally the most frequently utilized.

Why do MLB pitchers not throw screwballs? ›

The motion of the arm at the shoulder joint is naturally the underhand motion seen in softball, not the overhand motion of a baseball throw. So pitching is already a strain on the shoulder. The screwball is an even more unnatural motion.

Do they still make screwballs? ›

Several prominent brands produce screwballs, including Asda, Popsicle, and Eskimo Pie.

Does anyone still throw the knuckle ball? ›

Prior to Waldron, Steven Wright of the Boston Red Sox was considered to be the last active knuckleballer in the MLB; he has since been released from the team. Mickey Jannis, prior player of the Baltimore Orioles organization, also throws the knuckleball, and made his major league debut on June 23, 2021.


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