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It's not the speed, it's that the longer arm extension gives them more control over the ball.

Tom W.

Oh c'mon Lance! Mo Rivera may well be the best reliever of all time. He's brilliant.

But it's like claiming the best pinch-hitter is also the best hitter of all time. No way anybody'd take a 19-year-old Rivera over a 19-year-old Seaver or Gibson!

And happy freaking Easter!


Short guys may have shorter fingers, which wouldn't help. Also, if you look at the great power pitchers, they had large backsides and thighs to give the legs the strength needed to push off the mound and throw at 95+.


I doubt the debate will ever be solved as to who was the greatest pitcher of all time but there's no doubt about the greatest performance of all time. It was accomplished by Harvey Haddix in 1959 pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the mighty Milwaukee Braves (defending world champs who boasted a line-up that included Hammerin' Hank Aaron) who pitched 12 and 2/3 perfect innings until, with two outs in the bottom of the 13th, an error at third by Don Hoak kept the inning alive which led to a Joe Adcock homer which ended the game. And which broke my heart! As a Pittsburgh kid and a Pirate fan who listened to every pitch on the kitchen radio, and who said about a hundred Hail Mary's from the eighth inning on, I cried when Adcock's ball cleared the wall.

But as for the performance: Usually a perfect game includes several key defensive plays that figure into the victory, but not here. Bill Mazeroski, Hall of Fame second baseman for the Pirates, said this was the easiest game he ever played in. "Harvey did it all," he said. Except win.

Haddix, by the way, and to the point of your post, Lance, was a string bean who was barely five foot nine.


The taller you are, the longer your arms and legs, and the longer your arms and legs, the closer to home plate you release the ball. It isn't that Randy Johnson was faster than Bob Feller in terms of MPH on his pitches, it was that the pitches had to cover less ground, got to home plate faster, and therefore the hitter had less time to react to the pitches.

David Kowalski

Well, one of the short 100 game winners was Bobby Shantz (5 foot 6, won 119). He was known at the time for his fielding. I haven't figured out the other guy.

I remember reading an article about Albie Pearson, the short outfielder. Pearson was a better pitcher than hitter in high school but despite being the best pitcher in Orange County, he couldn't get a contract as a pitcher. He was 5-4" at the time and grew to 5'6". Others who wound up s MLB pitchers came from the same time and same county but were worse high school pitchers with poorer records did get offers. Even a decade later, the pitcher from my high school who was 11-1 with a 0.93 ERA only got a college offer while his 7-6 teammate was offered a pro contract because he threw harder despite having an ERA over 4.

Seaver was fortunate. He started out smallish and learned how to pitch early before going off to the Marines and adding 20+ pounds of muscle and a lot of speed to his fastball.


Yeah, agreed with many of the above: the height gives guys like Randy Johnson extra leverage, but they don't always have his athleticism or skill. As for me, I'll take two guys who probably barely scraped 5'11", despite their officially listed heights: Tom Glavine and (especially) Greg Maddux. Much harder to see their athleticism, but in the mid 90s, they made the two-hit shutout seem routine....


Oddly, this is a matter of some debate. I tend to go with Susan and Fairfax on this: longer arms and fingers means better control and the ability to do more things with the pitch.

Except that kids learn to pitch when they are all comparable heights.

But there's also an intimidation factor to be factored in....

food doctor

i miss mark "the bird" with his OCD grooming of the pitchers mound. nothing to do with greatness or size of the pitcher but very amusing.



Or Al Hrabosky, the Mad Hungarian, who taught me more about the pre-pitch psychology of throwing the ball than anyone else.

Lance Mannion

Tom Watson,

You know how I feel about Seaver, and I agree with you in principle, although I don't think the pinch hitter analogy is quite right. Might be closer to say it's like comparing a first baseman to a shortstop to decide the best infielder of all time---the jobs are very different. But Rivera is just too good and has been too good for so long that to compare him to other relievers, even the best closers, seems like a major category error.

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