Walking through the Guggenheim museum is always a pleasure, and I had the opportunity today while I was waiting for friends to arrive for lunch. A recent brilliant exhibit included photographs of human hands, taken from the collection of Henry M. Buhl: Speaking With Hands. The photographs are stunning, and I recommend the exhibit to everyone (and everyone should visit New York). I believe the exhibit book is available here, but the issue I saw had a different cover.
One noticeable photograph I saw in this collection is of the great BlackSox pitcher, Eddie Cicotte gripping a baseball in 1913, taken by Charles Conlon. The text explains that Cicotte was gripping his famous ‘knuckleball’ – but it is very clear from the closeup photo that the grip was not a knuckleball. The grip was more of a split fingered pitch or forkball (index and middle fingers spread on opposite sides of the ball). This photo is the only photographic evidence I have seen that Cicotte threw a splitfingered pitch, and that that pitch was thrown prior to Joe Bush in 1923, although Rob Neyer, in “the Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers”, provides compelling evidence that the pitch was thrown by Bert Hall as far back as 1908.
The forkball and splitter are different pitches, held in a similar manner. Apparently, the forkball is thrown at a slower velocity, with the ball resting deeper between the fingers. Most likely, Cicotte was gripping a forkball.
I could not find another photo of Cicotte with a grip similar to the one in the “Speaking With Hands” book. I neither reproduced the photograph nor bought the book, so the photo is unavailable here.
Here is a photo of Cicotte’s knuckleball from Knuckleball 101:
And this is the type of grip he displayed in the “Speaking with Hands” book (this photo is not from the book, but from The Pitching Professor:
Nothing in the “Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers” suggests Cicotte threw a splitfingered pitch or forkball, but they quote Ty Cobb as saying Cicotte threw a ‘sailor’ that could mimic a forkball action – if thrown sidearm.
As the photo of Cicotte from BlackSoxFan mentions in the caption, Cicotte won 50 games over his last 2 seasons before being banned from baseball in the BlackSox scandel. David Strathairn played Cicotte in the 1988 movie, “Eight Men Out”. Here he is, via Broadway World.
I have no idea who plays Eddie Cockcute in the porn movie “Ate men out”, nor do I know of the existence of such a movie.