Author: Phil Buckley

Kershaw Curveball

Throwing a Curveball

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

You’ve spent countless hours on the field, honing your skills and refining your game. Now it’s time to up the ante and master one of the most beguiling pitches in baseball: the curveball.

A well-executed curveball can be a game-changer, leaving even the most experienced hitters flailing at the plate. In this guide, we’ll delve into the intricate art of throwing a curveball, drawing from the wisdom of major league legends and offering insights on grip, mechanics, and technique. So, tighten your laces, dust off your cleats, and let’s get started on the path to curveball mastery.

To throw an effective curveball, there are five main elements you need to focus on.

The Curveball Grip

Current curveball orthodoxy tells you to hold the ball with your middle and index fingers along the seam, creating a firm yet relaxed grip. Your thumb should rest on the opposite seam underneath the ball, providing support and control. The grip is essential for generating the right spin and movement on the pitch.

There will never be one grip that will work for everyone. You should start with one grip and slowly modify it until you are getting the speed, spin and break you need to throw it consistently where you’re aiming.

One of the greatest curveball pitchers in history, Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, explains how he grips his.

Arm angle and wrist position

Maintain a consistent arm angle and wrist position throughout your delivery. Your wrist should be slightly cocked, allowing you to snap it down as you release the ball, generating the necessary topspin.

Curveball Release Point

Find the optimal release point for your curveball, which is typically later than that of a fastball. Releasing the ball too early or too late can result in a “hanging” curveball, which is easier for the batter to hit. Practice your release point until you can consistently produce the desired break.


Proper follow-through is crucial for both the effectiveness and the health of your arm. As you release the ball, allow your arm to continue its natural motion, finishing low and across your body. This will help generate the necessary spin and reduce the risk of arm injuries.


To make your curveball truly effective, you’ll want to maintain the same arm speed and delivery as your fastball. This makes it difficult for the batter to distinguish between the two pitches, increasing the likelihood of a swing and miss or a weak contact.

Clayton Kershaw’s Curveball

According to Baseball Savant, Kershaw’s pitch usage since 2015 during regular season games looks like this:

His average use of the curveball since 2015 is 16.6% with a wOBA of just .171, ranking 3rd among pitchers with at least 1000 curveballs thrown during that span. This regular season the usage was 18.8%, which is the highest in his career. Opposing hitters posted a .228 wOBA against the pitch.

Throughout much of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw has faced endless comparisons to Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax. The two left-handers have become close and share a similarity as being regarded as the best pitchers of their generation.

Kershaw marveled at the size Koufax’s hands and how that lent to his ability to throw multiple versions of a curveball. The future Hall of Famer recalled needing to explain to Koufax how he couldn’t simply throw his curve in the same fashion:

“Have you ever seen Sandy wrap his hands around a baseball? He’s like, ‘Hey, you should really try this with your curveball.’ And his middle finger and thumb are literally touching on the other side of the baseball. I’m like, ‘Sandy, I can’t do that. My hands are normal size. I can’t do that.’ That big of a hand can make a curveball do some crazy things.

“So he would say, ‘I get my curveball to break in two directions. I’m like, ‘What does that mean?’ He said, ‘Sometimes, I take my curveball and try to over rotate it to make it break away from a right-handed batter. And when I throw my normal one, I can break it in to a right-handed batter.’ I was like, ‘Sandy, nobody can do that.’

“The way that he talks about his curveball and manipulated his curveball is truly only what Sandy could do, I think.”

Sandy Koufax’s Curveball

Koufax had huge hands, Don Drysdale called them “paws.” When throwing a curve, Koufax’s thumb and middle finger touched on the other side of the baseball. This gave the pitch extra spin.

Led by Koufax and Drysdale, the Dodgers made it to the 1963 World Series against the New York Yankees. Koufax pitched game one. The scouting report on Mickey Mantle read, Do not throw him a curveball. He’ll crush it. In the first inning, Koufax struck out Mantle throwing nothing but fastballs. On Mantle’s second plate appearance, Koufax threw two quick fastball strikes. Dodgers catcher John Roseboro signaled for another heater but Koufax shook him off. He wanted to try his curveball, despite the warning. Koufax threw the curve and at the last second the bottom dropped out of the pitch. Mantle flinched and the umpire called, “strike three.” Mantle hesitated, turned to Roseboro and said, “How is anybody supposed to hit that shit?” The Dodgers won the Series in four games with Koufax winning two.

Koufax, retired almost 20 years and in his 40s, was pitching batting practice to the Dodgers (whom he often helped coach) between post-season series in the mid-1980s. This was the great-hitting Dodger line-up with Sax, Garvey, Baker, Cey, and others. Koufax is just throwing easy minor-league 45-year-old man fastballs for BP, letting the hitters groove their swings. One of the hitters calls for the famous curveball. This Koufax usually didn’t throw, lest it aggravate his elbow. But this hitter wanted to see the thing, see if he could hit it, so Koufax indulges him.

This is a major league hitter who knows what pitch is coming, batting against a man in his mid-40s.

Curve comes in, drops like a stone — a swing and a miss.

Hitter calls for another. Same result.

Several more; the same.

By now the hitter’s teammates, watching, are in hysterics. They’re howling. The batter gives up, walks off, tells his buddies, Fine then, you try it. And one by one they do. This great Dodger line-up comes up, every hitter knowing what pitch he’s getting, and no one can connect. Koufax is 45 or so — and with one pitch, pre-announced, he is unhittable.

No wonder Mantle said what he said.

As the story goes, manager Lasorda walked out to the mound and, using the pretext he wanted to protect Koufax’s arm, asked him to stop — but to Koufax he said, Cut it out already, I don’t want my hitters mentally destroyed just before a post-season series because they can’t hit a one-pitch man in his 40s.

AI generated image showing a baseball player

AI in Baseball

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

How Major League Baseball is using artificial intelligence and machine learning to change the national pastime.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly transforming the world of Major League Baseball (MLB). You may have heard of ChatGPT (which is a language model) from OpenAI mentioned in the news lately, but there is much more to modern AI. From player performance analysis to in-game decision-making, AI is revolutionizing the way coaches, managers, and scouts approach the game. With advancements in data driven technology and data analytics, AI is providing deeper insights into player performance, pitch tracking, and fan engagement. In this article, we’ll explore the ways AI is shaping the future of MLB teams and the impact it’s having on the sport. We’ll also examine the potential implications of AI on baseball and what the future may hold for this ever-evolving technology. Unlike other trends, you don’t need to be a big market team in New York or Los Angeles to take advantage of this technology to help you reach the World Series, in fact there are now many high schools leveraging it.

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Satchel Paige

Interracial Baseball from 1920-1935

Estimated reading time: 31 minutes

As Satchel Paige stood behind the pitcher’s mound facing the outfield, his mind likely raced with excitement and a sense of accomplishment. With two outs in the ninth inning, the African American hurler and his Bismarck (North Dakota) teammates were on the brink of the first-ever national semi-pro baseball championship.

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MIke Trout pitching in high school 2008

5 Major Leaguers Too Young For Our League

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

The CNCMSBL attracts guys of all ages. Our 18+ division has its share of 18 year-olds and our 50+ division has guys in their 70’s. Almost all of us have one thing in common, we’ve loved the game since we were kids.

There are some guys who were so good that they were ready to break into the major league even before they were old enough to vote!

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Better Coaching For The Win

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

In the Central North Carolina Men’s Senior Baseball League, there are a lot of very good players. From 18 to 80 there are guys that will make you stand up and take notice of their great play, but what about the rest of us?

Most of us are pretty good players but we’re still trying to get better. We could all use some good coaching, but great coaches are more of a rarity than great players. There are 333 plaques in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and only 22 of them are managers.

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Ash vs Maple vs Birch Wood Baseball Bats

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Back in 1965, your choice for baseball bats was fairly straight-forward. Did you prefer the Louisville Slugger like Mickey Mantle used or the Adirondack like Willie Mays. Both were made from select ash. Professional baseball was dominated by a few big bat companies.

At the turn of the 21st century, Barry Bonds home run exploits put the spotlight on the bat he was using, and his bat was made out of maple.

Birch, which is more flexible like ash and dense like maple, is starting to be picked up by a growing number of big leaguers. Birch recently passed ash as the number two type of bat in major league baseball.

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Baseball Hall of Fame in Fayetteville

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Starting on Friday, March 22, and running through May 11, Picturing America’s Pastime will feature 51 framed photographs representing the Baseball Hall of Fame’s collection of approximately a quarter million images at the Fayetteville Art Council located at 301 Hay Street [map]. As an extension of the Museum’s exhibit in Cooperstown, the touring version of Picturing America’s Pastime captures the essence of an exhibit designed to show the historic link between the two American passions – baseball and photography.

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Should Your Team Be Shifting More?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Baseball teams have been shifting defensively forever. Most of us think of the modern idea of a defensive infield shift started with Lou Boudreau and what became known as the “William’s Shift” in 1946.

This photo diagram shows the positions of the Cleveland infield and outfield in the so-called “Cleveland Shift” defense against Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox during the game in Boston. This photo was made after Williams had found a chink in the defense and slapped one to the left for a single.

The first time Williams came up against this shift, he hit the ball right to Boudreau himself, standing directly between first and second base.

From that moment on, teams shifted on Williams for the rest of his career. The shift was so common that Williams once estimated it lopped about 15 points off of his lifetime batting average, and he wasn’t far off: his career splits before and after that season showed a difference of 16 points.

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Andrew Benitendi's beautiful leaping 2018 world series catch

Baseball Gloves

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Your baseball glove is an extension of your baseball-self, you want to love it.

Carlos Correa makes a diving stop to rob Jean Segura, he needed to use every muscle in his body. He raced to the ball, dove, lifted his body up and tossed the ball from his glove to Marwin Gonzalez to turn a double play. 

The gloves we use today have evolved from no gloves at all in the 19th century. Some of the best defensive stars of their generation (or all-time) have become legends while using what we would now consider unusable.

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