“Dummies Don’t Make Good”

15 Dec

Clark Griffith, while managing the New York Highlanders, provided The Washington Post with his insights on pitching—as well as sleeping and eating.  Griffith, “essentially a great a thinker,” shared “numerous cogent truths” with the paper:

“When I was working regularly, I prepared myself for games under a perfect system.  The day after I had been in the box I made it a point not to do any pitching whatever.  I would go to the outfield and develop my wind by chasing the ball out there.  The next day I would assume pitching practice until limbered up; then stop and do no more until I went in the box the next day.

“I was always careful what I ate, especially at lunch on the day I was going to pitch, as are most of the pitchers of the present day.  They can’t be good pitchers unless they are.  I always keep an eye on the man I am going to send in the box, though a majority of the pitchers know enough to pick out the right kind of diet.  As they have the most work to do in a game, and more depends on them than on any one man, they have to take better care of their stomachs than the others.

Clark Griffith

Clark Griffith

“I always found it a good plan to take a nap after lunch on the day I was going to pitch.  That brings a man’s faculties all back.  I don’t mean lie there until you get dopey, just a light sleep.  A heavy sleep knocks a man out.  The average ballplayer is a late riser.  He gets up anywhere from 9 to 10 as a rule, and as he eats a heavy breakfast, his luncheon ought to be a light meal and over by not later than 12:30.  He has to go light on pastry.  On the road, in particular, he has to be careful or he will have indigestion. When on the road he eats a number of hurried meals, and then his stomach needs watching more than any other time.  What with hurried meals and the wear and tear of traveling, a team on the road is playing on its spirit.

“”The successful pitcher has to be a thinker and always trying to get something out of the batter.  Dummies don’t make good, because they are up against a smart bunch of hitters who are always sizing a pitcher up.  The pitcher must be thinking constantly, and for that reason the slow pitcher is not the dull-witted pitcher.  When you see a man who is a slow worker in the box you can bet that he is trying to place every ball and is figuring out where every ball should go and why.

“The easiest games to pitch are the shutout games.  You wouldn’t think that a pitcher had had an easy time when he had kept the other side from scoring, but as a matter of fact those are the very kind of games that are the softest for him.  Take a game where the score is 4 to 0 or 5 to 0, and the winning pitcher has been taking it easy the last part of the game.  The chances are the other side was going out in one, two, three order.  In any event, few of them were on the bases, and this gave the pitcher something to work on—that is, a chance to ease up and not be on the watch all the time.  The 5 to 4 and 8 to 7 games are the hardest on a pitcher.  They mean that men are on the bases a good deal  and that the pitcher is always working hard to keep them from scoring.

“I have been called a hard loser in baseball, and I guess that’s so.  Nobody can amuse me after I have pitched a losing game, my appetite is completely gone, and I would not go to the best show on earth if I had a private box.”

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