Larry Cheney's New Spitball Makes Him One of the Stars of the National League
Larry Cheney won 67 games for the Chicago Cubs from 1912 to 1914. In 1915 he won only eight games and was traded to Brooklyn late that summer. In 1916 his comeback was spectacular: an 18-12 record with a 1.92 earned run average. He was a big reason why the Dodgers (known as the Robins, named after their manager, Wilbert Robinson) won the pennant that year.
As the 1916 pennant race was winding down (September 22, 1916), Cheney told the New York Evening Telegram about the pitch that saved his career, the spitter.
Two years ago Larry Cheney was supposed to be through as a big league pitcher. Yesterday he won his twentieth game of the season for the Dodgers. The answer is the spitball.
In his days with the Cubs Larry was not a spitball pitcher. He had a fair curve and a good, fast ball, courage and a fine physique, but he couldn't get by. Then he took up the spitball, joined the Dodgers, and is today ranked with Alexander, Mamaux and Pfeffer as one of the National League's premier pitchers.
It is an interesting story, the story of Larry Cheney and the spitball. Particularly as Larry has been so instrumental in placing the Dodgers where they are today, two and a half games beyond the field.
"I never knew how to pitch until I came to Brooklyn, "says Cheney. "Until I perfected the spitter my whole idea was to throw the ball past the bats. I found out that the boys at the plate hit them back at you faster than you can throw them up, if you stick to that method of pitching.
"The spitball is a funny ball. I maintain that to be most effective with it a pitcher must be a bit wild. When I can locate the plate all the time with it I notice that the boys hit me pretty hard. When I'm a bit wild and walk a man now and then they can't touch me.
"I wish I had the spitter working when I was with the Cubs and knew as much about pitching as I do now. I'd have hung up a record or two myself. A good husky fellow breaking in young with a good spitter ought to set any league on fire.
"I took it up pretty late. Still it's done a lot for me. I'm afraid I might not be in the big leagues to-day if I hadn't mastered it."
Beyond everything else Larry Cheney has courage. He pitches best with men on bases. He never likes to be taken out of the box. He has unlimited confidence in his ability to extricate himself from bad situations. Usually he can do so, too, and Robby [ Brooklyn manager Wilbert Robinson] leaves him in as long as possible.
If the Dodgers get to the world's series, there are only two men who can carry my money when they work. One is Jack Coombs. The other is Larry Cheney. Coombs has the courage, experience and cunning. Cheney has the spitball and courage. They make a great pair.