Spitball: Hitting the Spitter
Hall of Fame pitcher Addie Joss tells the "secret" of hitting the spitter, as quoted in Sporting Life, May 4, 1907:
"Watch it closely and hit the dry side."
The Connecticut League has a trick to combat the spitter ,as quoted in Sporting Life, July 6, 1907:
"Soaking the ball in kerosene to check a spit ball pitcher isn't exactly a new trick, but it doesn't lose any of its nastiness by repeated use."
St. Louis Browns' slugger Ken Williams, who would lead the AL in home runs in 1922, said this early that season , as quoted in the St. Louis Times, May 18, 1923:
"Ordinarily, spitball pitching is not the ideal style for the making of home runs. When a pitcher has his spitter breaking well and keeps it low the batter almost invariably tops the ball, thereby hitting it on the ground."
"With a spitball pitcher working the batter must try to pick on the fast one or whale [sic] away at a high spitball. A spitball is breaking at the waist line is not nearly so hard to hit as one that shoots across the plate at the knee."
An informal survey of ballplayers in 1907 concluded that the spitball is the hardest pitch to hit , as quoted in Sporting Life, August 3, 1907:
"When working rightly the spit ball is practically an unhittable delivery and makes fielding uncertain. If the fielders could handle the wet ball the delivery would be even more deadly in stopping run-getting than it is. The spit ball comes almost straight up to the plate, but just when it looks like it was coming on over with only average speed it suddenly drops from a fraction of an inch to a half a foot. When the spit ball refuses to take this break, it is the easiest thing in the entire pitching repertoire to murder. When it is breaking right there is no way as yet found to hit it successfully."