How'd Blyleven throw that curve?

  • Updated: July 22, 2011 - 6:28 AM
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Bert Blyleven said he found only two other pitchers who used the same grip for a curve: Bob Feller and Sandy Koufax.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

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Bert Blyleven said he never stopped being a student of the game, quizzing countless fellow major leaguers about the manner in which they threw a curveball.

"Believe it or not, there were only two other guys I met who gripped it the same way," the Hall of Famer said. He found himself in good company: Bob Feller and Sandy Koufax, both Hall of Fame pitchers.

The keys, Blyleven said, were the tight grip, the release and body balance.

"The ball has seams on it, so I tried to utilize the seams because of my hand size [about average]," Blyleven said. "I held the top seams like my four-seam fastball [two fingers across the top seam], and all I did was drop my thumb on top of [the bottom seam] and then my ring finger would sit [opposite, on the same seam].

"I liked the extra feel on the ball, where I felt like [the ball] was locked into my hand. When the ball came out of my hand, I led with the top of my thumb, and it would create the spin."

Blyleven said he released the pitch identical to his fastball, making it tougher for batters to pick up. The other key was a consistent balance point for his body, which allowed him to explode his delivery toward home plate.

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