Conventional baseball wisdom tells us that the harder a pitcher throws the ball and the more control he has over it, the more success he’ll find. Try telling that to the players who throw the knuckleball, the sport’s strangest type of pitch. Former Red Sox player Jason Varitek once described trying to catch the knuckler as like trying to grab a mosquito with chopsticks, and actually throwing one isn’t much easier.
There aren’t many knuckleballers left in the big leagues these days, but a few have been stubbornly hanging on to the unique pitching style. A new documentary from directors Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg will shed some light on why the knuckleballers can be successful and what makes the pitch so unique.
Knuckleball! was filmed over the course of the 2011 season and covers the attempts of two prominent pitchers, R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets and Tim Wakefield of the Boston Red Sox, as they spend the year sending slow, erratic pitches toward the batters box. The movie also includes interviews with former players like Charlie Hough and Phil Nierko, both of whom had long and successful careers thanks to a mastery of the knuckleball.
Knuckleball! is already appearing at select theaters in New York and Boston. Check out this exclusive clip at Vulture to learn more. The documentary can also be seen on iTunes and may expand to more theaters later this year.