The Making of the Fastest Baseball Pitcher Ever: An Incremental and Integrative Hypothesis

On September 22, 2020, Influence Publishers is releasing my biography, coauthored with Alex Thomas and Brian Vikander, of baseball pitcher Steve Dalkowski. The book is available at Amazon. There’s also a book website: DalkoBook.com. The piece below by my coauthors and me is a more video-friendly version of an “extra” on the DalkoBook.com website titled “Unraveling Steve Dalkowski’s 110 MPH Fastball.”

On September 22, 2020, Influence Publishers is releasing my biography, coauthored with Alex Thomas and Brian Vikander, of baseball pitcher Steve Dalkowski. The book is available at Amazon. There’s also a book website: DalkoBook.com. The piece below by my coauthors and me is a more video-friendly version of an “extra” on the DalkoBook.com website titled “Unraveling Steve Dalkowski’s 110 MPH Fastball.”

Steve Dalkowski (1939 — 2020), active as a professional baseball player in the late 1950s and early 1960s, is widely regarded as the fastest pitcher ever. Because of control problems, walking as many as he struck out, Dalkowski never quite made it to the majors, though he got close. Instead, Dalkowski spent his entire professional career confined to the minor leagues. Yet players who did make it to the majors batted against him and saw him pitch. Baseball players, coaches, and managers as diverse as Ted Williams, Earl Weaver, “Sudden” Sam McDowell, Harry Brecheen, Billy De Mars, and Cal Ripken Sr. all witnessed Dalko pitch, and all of them left convinced that none was faster, not even close.

The current official record for the fastest pitch, through PITCHf/x, belongs to Aroldis Chapman, who in 2010 was clocked at 105.1 mph. Previously, the official record belonged to Joel Zumaya, which stood at 104.8 mph and was reached in 2006. The fastest unofficial pitch, in the sense that it was unconfirmed by present technology, but still can be reliably attributed, belongs to Nolan Ryan. In 1974 Ryan was clocked with radar technology available at the time, placing one of his fastballs at over 101 mph at 10 feet from the plate. Extrapolating backward to the point of release, which is what current PITCHf/x technology does, it’s estimated that Ryan’s pitch was above 108 mph. Ryan’s 1974 pitch is thus the fastest unofficial, albeit reliably measured and recorded, pitch ever.

Aroldis Chapman’s fastest pitch (see 25 second mark):

Nolan Ryan’s fastest pitch (from MLB documentary FASTBALL):

So the challenge, in establishing that Dalkowski was the fastest pitcher ever, is to make a case that his pitching velocity reached at least 110 mph. To be sure, a mythology has emerged surrounding Dalkowski, suggesting that he attained speeds of 120 mph or even better. That may be, but for our present purposes, we want simply to make the case that he could have done as good or better than 110 mph.

The evidential problem with making such a case is that we have no video of Dalkowski’s pitching. Though he pitched from the 1957 through the 1965 seasons, including single A, double A, and triple A ball, no video of his pitching is known to exist. Such an absence of video seems remarkable inasmuch as Dalko’s legend as the hardest thrower ever occurred in real time with his baseball career. Unlike some geniuses, whose genius is only appreciated after they pass on, Dalkowski experienced his legendary status at the same time he was performing his legendary feats. Most likely, some amateur videographer, some local news station, some avid fan made some video of his pitching.

Over the course of the three years researching our book on Dalko, we collectively investigated leads in the USA, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, looking for any motion pictures of Steve Dalkowski throwing a baseball. We even sought to assemble a collection of still photographs in an effort to ascertain what Steve did to generate his exceptional velocity. We weren’t the first in this effort and, likely, will not be the last. But we, too, came up empty-handed.

Somewhere in towns where Dalko pitched and lived (Elmira, Johnson City, Danville, Minot, Dothan, Panama City, etc.) there is a storage bin at a local television station or a box of stuff that belonged to grandpa. In an attic, garage, basement, or locker are some silver tins containing old films from long forgotten times. The tins aren’t labeled or they have something scribbled on them that would make no sense to the rummagers or spring cleaners. Those who found the tins probably wouldn’t even bother to look in the cans, as they quickly identify those things that can be thrown away. And, if they did look inside and hold the film up to the light and saw some guy, in grainy black and white, throwing a baseball, they wouldn’t have any idea who or what they are looking at, or even why it might be significant. Our team working on the Dalko Project have come to refer to video of Dalko pitching as the “Holy Grail.” Like the real Holy Grail, we doubt that such video will ever be found.

Barring direct evidence of Dalko’s pitching mechanics and speed, what can be done to make his claim to being the fastest pitcher ever plausible? We propose developing an integrative hypothesis that takes various aspects of the pitching motion, asks how they can be individually optimized, and then hypothesizes that Dalko integrated those aspects into an optimal biomechanical pitch delivery. We call this an incremental and integrative hypothesis. It is incremental in that the different aspects or pieces of the pitching motion are all hypothesized to contribute positively to Dalko’s pitching speed. It is integrative in the sense that these incremental pieces are hypothesized to act cumulatively (rather than counterproductively) in helping Dalko reach otherwise undreamt of pitching speeds.

Dalko’s 110 mph pitching speed, once it is seriously entertained that he attained it, can lead one to think that Dalko was doing something on the mound that was completely different from other pitchers, that his biomechanics introduced some novel motions unique to pitching, both before and after. We think this unlikely. Players who saw Dalkowski pitch did not see a motion completely at odds with what other pitchers were doing.

It’s not like what happened in high jumping, where the straddle technique had been the standard way of doing the high jump, and then Dick Fosbury came along and introduced the Fosbury flop, rendering the straddle technique obsolete over the last 40 years because the flop was more effective. Players seeing Dalkowski pitch and marveling at his speed did not see him as fundamentally changing the art of pitching. Instead, it seems that Dalko brought together the existing biomechanical components of pitching into a supremely effective and coherent whole. In other words, instead of revolutionizing the biomechanics of pitching, Dalko unknowingly improved on and perfected existing pitching biomechanics.

How do we know that Steve Dalkowski is not the Dick Fosbury of pitching, fundamentally changing the art of pitching? Consider the following remark about Dalkowski by “Sudden” Sam McDowell, an outstanding MLB pitcher who was a contemporary of Dalkowski’s. McDowell said this about Dalkowski’s pitching mechanics: “He had the most perfect pitching mechanics I ever saw. If standing on the sidelines, all one had to do was watch closely how his entire body flowed together towards the batter once he began his turn towards the plate… Steve’s mechanics were just like a perfect ballet. Just as free flowing as humanly possible. Just seeing his turn and movement towards the plate, you knew power was coming!”

The focus, then, of our incremental and integrative hypothesis, in making plausible how Dalko could have reached pitch velocities of 110 mph or better, will be his pitching mechanics (timing, kinetic chain, and biomechanical factors). Accordingly, we will submit that Dalko took the existing components of throwing a baseball — i.e., the kinetic chain (proper motions and forces of all body parts in an optimal sequence), which includes energy flow that is generated through the hips, to the shoulders, to elbow/forearem, and finally to the wrist/hand and the baseball — and executed these components extremely well, putting them together seamlessly in line with “Sudden” Sam’s assessment above.

In placing the focus on Dalkowski’s biomechanics, we want for now to set aside any “freakish” physical aspects of Dalkowski that might have unduly helped to increase his pitching velocity. This is not to say that Dalkowski may not have had such physical advantages. But we have no way of knowing that he did, certainly not from the time he was an active pitcher, and probably not if we could today examine his 80-year old body. At 5′ 11” and 175 pounds, Dalko gave no impression of being an imposing physical specimen or of exhibiting some physical attributes that set him apart from the rest of humanity. What set him apart was his pitching velocity.

To stay with this point a bit longer, when we consider a pitcher’s physical characteristics, we are looking at the potential advantages offered by the muscular system, bone size (length), muscles to support the movement of the bones, and the connective tissue to hold everything together (bones and muscle). Studies of this type, as they correlate with pitching, do not yet exist. Perhaps Dalko’s humerus, radius and ulna were far longer and stronger than average, with muscles trained to be larger and stronger to handle the increased load, and his connective tissue (ligaments and tendons) being exceptionally strong to prevent the arm from coming apart. But we have no way of confirming any of this.

Dalko, it’s true, is still alive, though he’s in a nursing home and suffers dementia. Perhaps his caregivers would consent to have him examined under an MRI, and perhaps this could, even fifty years after his pitching career ended, still show some remarkable physical characteristics that might have helped his pitching. But all such appeals to physical characteristics that might have made the difference in Dalko’s pitching speed remain for now speculative in the extreme. A far more promising avenue is the one we are suggesting, namely, to examine key components of pitching mechanics that, when optimally combined, could account for Dalko’s phenomenal speed.

Pitching can be analyzed in terms of a progressive sequence, such as balance and posture, leg lift and body thrust, stride and momentum, opposite and equal elbows, disassociation front hip and back shoulder, delayed shoulder rotation, the torso tracking to home plate, glove being over the lead leg and stabilized, angle of the forearm, release point, follow through, and dragline of back foot. In line with such an assessment of biomechanical factors of the optimum delivery, improvements in velocity are often ascribed to timing, tempo, stride length, angle of the front hip along with the angle of the throwing shoulder, external rotation, etc. Such an analysis has merit, but it’s been tried and leaves unexplained how to get to and above 110 mph.

Instead, we therefore focus on what we regard as four crucial biomechanical features that, to the degree they are optimized, could vastly increase pitching speed. Our hypothesis is that Dalko put these biomechanical features together in a way close to optimal. Here are the four features:

  1. Torque
  2. Forward body thrust
  3. Hitting the block
  4. Arm speed/strength

Our inspiration for these features comes from javelin throwing. We will argue that the mechanics of javelin throwing offers insights that makes it plausible for Dalko being the fastest pitcher ever, attaining pitching speeds at and in excess of 110 mph.

What do we mean by these four features? Except for “hitting the block,” the rest of the features will make sense to those who have analyzed the precisely sequenced muscle recruitment patterns required to propel a 5-ounce baseball 60′ 6″ toward the target. Torque refers to the body’s (and especially the hips’ and shoulders’) twisting motion and thereby imparting power to the pitch. Forward body thrust refers to the center of mass of the body accelerating as quickly as possible from the rubber toward home plate. Arm speed/strength is self-explanatory: in the absence of other bodily helps, how fast can the arm throw the ball?

Note that we view power (the calculus derivative of work, and thus the velocity with which energy operates over a distance) as the physical measure most relevant and important for assessing pitching speed. Pitchers need power, which is not brute strength (such as slowly lifting a heavy weight), but the ability to dispense that strength ever more quickly. The four features above are all aids to pitching power, and cumulatively could have enabled Dalko to attain the pitching speeds that made him a legend.

Let’s therefore examine these features. First off, arm strength/speed. What’s possible here? It turns out, a lot more than we might expect. Javelin throwers develop amazing arm strength and speed. Unlike a baseball, which weighs 5 ounces, javelins in men’s track and field competitions weigh 28 ounces (800 g). Javelin throwers make far fewer javelin throws than baseball pitchers make baseball throws. And because of the arm stress of throwing a javelin, javelin throwers undergo extensive exercise regimens to get their throwing arms into shape (see for instance this video at the 43 second mark) .

The greatest javelin thrower of all time is Jan Zelezny, who holds the world record at 98.48 meters, set in 1996, for the current javelin (older javelins, with different specifications, could be thrown farther — more on this shortly). Zelezny, from the Czech Republic, was in Atlanta in 1996 for the Olympics, where he won the gold for the javelin. The Atlanta Braves, intrigued by his ability to throw a javelin, asked him to come to a practice and pitch a baseball. It’s reliably reported that he threw 97 mph. This may not seem like a lot, but it quickly becomes impressive when one considers his form in throwing the baseball, which is “all arm,” with no recruitment from his body, and takes no advantage of his javelin throwing form, where Zelezny is able to get his full body into the throw. Here is a video of Zelezny’s throwing a baseball at the Braves’ practice (reported on Czech TV — see the 10 second mark):

How fast has a javelin thrower been able to pitch a baseball? The American Tom Petranoff, back in 1983, held the world record for the old-design javelin, with a throw of 99.72 meters (cf. the Wikipedia entry on “Javelin Throw World Record Progression“). The old-design javelin was reconfigured in 1986 by moving forward its center of gravity and increasing its surface area behind the new center of gravity, thus taking off about 20 or so percent from how far the new-design javelin could be thrown (actually, there was a new-new design in 1991, which slightly modified the 1986 design; more on this as well later). This change was instituted in part because, by 1986, javelin throws were hard to contain in stadiums (Uwe Hohn’s world record in 1984, a year following Petranoff’s, was 104.80 meters, or 343.8 ft.).

Unlike Zelezny, who had never thrown a baseball when in 1996 he went to a practice with Braves, Petranoff was an American and had played baseball growing up. Despite never playing baseball very seriously and certainly not at an elite level, Petranoff, once he became a world-class javelin thrower, managed to pitch at 103 mph. Here is his account:

I started throwing and playing baseball from very early age… I played little league at 8, 9, and 10 years old… I moved on to Pony League for 11, 12, and 13 years olds and got better. I was 6 feet tall in eighth grade and 175 lbs… In high school, I was 80 plus in freshman year and by senior year 88 plus mph…

I received a baseball scholarship to Ball State University in 1976. I lasted one semester, [and then] moved to Palomar College in February 1977. I went to try out for the baseball team and on the way back from tryout I saw Luc Laperiere throwing a javelin 75 yards or so and stopped to watch him. That’s when I stopped playing baseball and started javelin training. Over the years I still pitched baseball and threw baseball for cross training. I threw batting practice at Palomar years later to cross train, and they needed me to throw 90 mph so their batters could see it live. I ended up over 100 mph on several occasions and had offers to play double A pro baseball for the San Diego Padres 1986. It was tempting, but I had a family and the number one ranking in the world throwing javelins, and making good money…

Baseball throwing is very similar to javelin throwing in many ways, and enables you to throw with whip and zip. The outfield throw is a run, jump, and throw motion much like the javelin, and pitching is very stretch reflex orientated, a chain reaction of leg, hips, back, shoulder, elbow, and wrist snap, which is important to finding the whip motion. The inertia pop of the stretch reflex is effortless when you find it [did Dalko find it? — editor’s note]. It’s hard to find, mind you, but I found it and it was amazing how easy it was once you found the throwing zone… I threw 103 mph a few times on radar, and many in 97-100 mph range, and did not realize I was throwing it until Padres scout came up with a coach after batting practice and told me. He could not believe I was a professional javelin thrower…

Baseball was my base for 20 years and then javelin blended for 20 years plus. I think baseball and javelin cross training will help athletes in either sport prevent injury and make them better athletes.

[SOURCE: Reference link; this text has been lightly edited for readability.]

Petranoff, in pitching 103 mph, and thus going 6 mph faster than Zelezny, no doubt managed to get his full body into throwing the baseball. But how much more velocity might have been imparted to Petranoff’s 103 mph baseball pitch if, reasoning counterfactually, Zelezny had been able to pitch it, getting his fully body into throwing the baseball while simultaneously taking full advantage of his phenomenal ability to throw a javelin? Consider the following video of Zelezny making a world record throw (95.66 m), though not his current world record throw (98.48 m, made in 1996, see here for that throw). We give the following world record throw (95.66 m) by Zelezny because it highlights the three other biomechanical features that could have played a crucial role in Dalkowski reaching 110 mph. Here is the video:

This video actually contains two throws, one just below the then world record and one achieving a new world record. The two throws are repeated from different angles, in full speed and slow motion. They help break down Zelezny’s throwing motion. Moreover, they highlight the three other biomechanical features mentioned above, leaving aside arm strength/speed, which is also evident.

Most obvious in this video is Zelezny’s incredible forward body thrust. Thus, after the javelin leaves Zelezny’s hand, his momentum is still carrying him violently forward. This goes to point 2 above.

Also, when Zelezny is releasing the javelin, watch his left leg (he throws right-handed, and so, as in baseball, it’s like a right-hander hitting foot-strike as he gets ready to unwind his torque to deliver and release the baseball). Note that Zelezny’s left leg lands straight/stiff, thus allowing the momentum that he’s generated in the run up to the point of release to get transferred from his leg to this throwing arm. Javelin throwers call this landing on a straight leg immediately at the point of releasing the javelin “hitting the block.” This goes to point 3 above.

We see hitting the block in baseball in both batting and pitching. Batters will land straight on their front leg as they stride into a pitch. The straight landing allows the momentum of their body to go into the swing of the bat. If the front leg collapses, it has the effect of a shock absorber that deflects valuable momentum away from the bat and into the batter’s leg, thus reducing the exit velocity of the ball from the bat.

So too, with pitching, the hardest throwers will finish with their landing leg stiffer, i.e., less flexed. Because pitching requires a stride, pitchers land with their front leg bent; but for the hardest throwers, the landing leg then reverts to a straight/straighter position. So the hardest throwing pitchers do their best to approximate what javelin throwers do in hitting the block. To see this, please review the pitches of Aroldis Chapman and Nolan Ryan above. Both straighten out their landing legs, thereby transferring momentum from their lower body to their pitching arms.

The difference between hitting the block hard with a straight leg and not hitting the block by letting the front leg collapse seems to be a reliable marker for separating low 90s pitchers from 100s pitchers. Take Justin Verlander, for instance, who can reach around 100 mph, and successfully hits the block:

Compare him with Kyle Hendricks, whose leg acts as a shock absorber, and keeps his fastball right around 90 mph:

Besides arm strength/speed, forward body thrust, and hitting the block, Jan Zelezny exhibits one other biomechanical trait that seems to significantly increase the distance (and thus speed) that he can throw a javelin, namely, torque. Look at the video above where he makes a world record of 95.66 meters, and note how in the run up his body twists clockwise when viewed from the top, with the javelin facing away to his right side (and thus away from the forward direction where he must throw). When he throws, the javelin first needs to rotate counterclockwise (when viewed from the top) and then move straight forward.

Zelezny seems to have mastered the optimal use of such torque (or rotational force) better than any other javelin thrower we’ve watched. Consider, for instance, the following video of Tom Petranoff throwing a javelin. This video is interesting in a number of ways: Bruce Jenner’s introduction, Petranoff’s throwing motion, and Petranoff’s lament about the (at the time) proposed redesign of the javelin, which he claims will cause javelin throwers to be built more like shot put and discus throwers, becoming more bulky (the latter prediction was not borne out: Jan Zelezny mastered the new-design javelin even though he was only 6’1” and 190 lbs, putting his physical stature close to Dalko’s).

The thing to watch in this video is how Petranoff holds his javelin in the run up to his throw, and compare it to Zelezny’s run up:

Indeed, Petranoff holds his javelin pointing directly forward, gaining none of the advantage from torque that Zelezny does.

We see torque working for the fastest pitchers. Bob Gibson, a flame thrower in his day (and contemporary of Dalko), would generate so much torque that on releasing his pitch, he would fly toward first base (he was a righty). If we think of a plane perpendicular to the ground and intersecting the pitching mound and home plate, then Aroldis Chapman, who is a lefty rotates beyond that plane about 65 degrees counterclockwise when viewed from the top (see Chapman video at the start of this article). It’s possible that Chapman may be over-rotating (it’s possible to overdo anything). The reason we think he may be over-rotating is that Nolan Ryan, who seemed to be every bit as fast as Chapman, tended to have a more compact, but at least as effective, torque (see Ryan video at the start of this article).

In conclusion, we hypothesize that Steve Dalkowski optimally combined the following four crucial biomechanical features of pitching:

  1. Torque
  2. Forward body thrust
  3. Hitting the block
  4. Arm speed/strength

He must have made good use of torque because it would have provided a crucial extra element in his speed. His arm speed/strength must have been impressive, and it may well be that he was able to achieve a coordinated snap of forearm and wrist that significantly added to his speed. Moreover, to achieve 110 mph, especially with his limited frame (5’11”, 175 lbs), he must have pitched with a significant forward body thrust, which then transferred momentum to his arm by solidly hitting the block (no collapsing or shock-absorber leg). We have some further indirect evidence of the latter point: apparently Dalkowski’s left (throwing) arm would hit his right (landing) leg with such force that he would put a pad on his leg to preserve it from wear and tear. This suggests a violent forward thrust, a sharp hitting of the block, and a very late release point (compare Chapman and Ryan above, whose arm, after the point of release, comes down over their landing leg, but not so violently as to hit it).

As a postscript, we consider one final line of indirect evidence to suggest that Dalko could have attained pitching speeds at or in excess of 110 mph. The evidence is analogical, and compares Tom Petranoff to Jan Zelezny. Both were world-class javelin throwers, but Petranoff was also an amateur baseball pitcher whose javelin-throwing ability enabled him to pitch 103 mph. Insofar as javelin-throwing ability (as measured by distance thrown) transfers to baseball-pitching ability (as measured by speed), Zelezny, as the greatest javelin thrower of all time, would thus have been able to pitch a baseball much faster than Petranoff provided that Zelezny were able master the biomechanics of pitching. To push the analogy to its logical limit, we might say that Dalkowski, when it came to speed of pitching, may well have been to baseball what Zelezny was to javelin throwing.

Let’s flesh this out a bit. Petranoff threw the old-design javelin 99.72 meters for the world record in 1983. The old-design javelin was retired in 1986, with a new-design javelin allowing serrated tails from 1986 to 1991, and then a still newer design in 1991 eliminating the serration, which is the current javelin. For the effect of these design changes on javelin world records, see “Javelin Throw World Record Progression” previously cited. Now the point to realize is that the change in 1986 lowered the world record javelin throw by more than 18 percent, and the change in 1991 further lowered the world record javelin throw by more than 7 percent (comparing newest world record with the old design against oldest world record with new design).

It follows that for any javelin throw with the pre-1986 design, one can roughly subtract 25 percent of its distance to estimate what one might reasonably expect to throw with the current design. There are, of course, some ceteris paribus conditions that apply here inasmuch as throwing ability with one javelin design might not correlate precisely to another, but to a first approximation, this percentage subtraction seems reasonable. Therefore, to play it conservatively, let’s say the difference is only a 20 percent reduction in distance. A throw of 99.72 meters with the old pre-1986 javelin (Petranoff’s world record) would thus correspond, with this conservative estimate, to about 80 meters with the current post-1991 javelin.

By comparison, Zelezny’s 1996 world record throw was 98.48 meters, 20 percent more than Petranoff’s projected best javelin throw with the current javelin, i.e., 80 meters. Petranoff’s projected best throw of 80 meters for the current javelin is unimpressive given Zelezny’s world record of almost 100 meters, but the projected distance for Petranoff of 80 meters seems entirely appropriate. After all, Uwe Hohn in 1984 beat Petranoff’s record by 5 meters, setting a distance 104.80 meters for the old javelin. Then, the first year of the new javelin in 1986, the world record dropped to 85.74 meters (almost a 20 meter drop). When in 1991, the current post-1991 javelin was introduced (strictly speaking, javelin throwers started using the new design already in 1990), the world record dropped significantly again.

The bottom line is that Zelezny would have thrown either javelin (pre-1986 or current design) much further than Petranoff, and thus would have needed — and had the ability — to impart considerably more power to it than Petranoff. Granted, the physics for javelins, in correlating distance traveled to velocity of travel (especially velocity at the point of release), may not be entirely straightforward. Moreover, even if the physics of javelin throwing were entirely straightforward, it would not explain the physics of baseball throwing, which requires correlating a baseball’s distance thrown (or batted) versus its flight angle and velocity, an additional complicating factor being rotation of the ball (such rotation being absent from javelin throwing).

It therefore seems entirely reasonable to think that Petranoff’s 103 mph pitch could readily have been bested to above 110 mph by Zelezny provided Zelezny had the right pitching mechanics. After all, Zelezny demonstrated that he could have bested Petranoff in javelin throwing by a distance factor of 20 percent. Given that the analogy between throwing a javelin and pitching a baseball is tight, Zelezny would have needed to improve on Petranoff’s baseball pitching speed by only 7 percent to reach the magical 110 mph. And if Zelezny could have done it, then so too could Dalko.

—————–

FROM ABOUT PAGE:

Who was the fastest baseball pitcher ever? Anyone who studies this question comes up with one name, and only one name — Steve Dalkowski. Born in 1939, active in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Dalko, as he was called, never quite made it into the MLB.

But plenty of players who did make it into the MLB batted against him or saw him pitch. Baseball players and managers as diverse as Ted Williams, Earl Weaver, “Sudden Sam” McDowell, and Cal Ripken Sr. all witnessed Dalko pitch, and all of them left convinced that none was faster, not even close.

Certainly, Dalkowski’s career in baseball has grown rife with legend. Extreme estimates place him throwing at 125 mph, which seems somewhere between ludicrous and impossible. But was he able consistently to reach 110 mph, as more reasonable estimates suggest?

The Steve Dalkowski Project attempts to separate fact from fiction, the truth about his pitching from the legends that have emerged. Dalkowski was fast, probably the fastest ever. The story is fascinating, and Dalko is still alive. But many questions remain:

  • How fast was he really? Can we form reliable estimates of his speed?
  • At only 5’11” and 175 pounds, what was Dalkowski’s secret?
  • How could he have reached such incredible speeds?
  • What were his pitching mechanics?
  • What, if any, physical characteristics did he have that enhanced his pitching?
  • Is there any extant video of him pitching (so far none has been found)?
  • Why was he so wild, allowing few hits but as many walks as strike outs?

Whatever the answer to these and related questions, Dalkowski remains a fascinating character, professional baseball’s most intriguing man of mystery, bar none. There is a story here, and we want to tell it.

The Steve Dalkowski Project attempts to uncover the truth about Steve Dalkowski’s pitching — the whole truth, or as much of it as can be recovered. This website provides the springboard.

At SteveDalkowski.com, we want to collect together the evidence and data that will allow us to fill in the details about Dalko’s pitching. Our aim is to write a book, establish a prize in his honor, and ultimately film a documentary about him. Stay tuned!