Home Page Baseball History The Spitball Frank Shellenbeck Talks About The Spitter: Difference Of Opinion As To Its 1907 Use Veteran Pitchers Fighting Shy of It Owing to Its Destructiveness
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"Knuckler More Dangerous than Spitball,"
The Sporting News, May 1, 1957

One of the truly great spitball pitchers of all time-Fred [Frank] Shellenback- -has a simple solution to end the No. 1 center of controversy in the game today.

"Make the spitball legal," says Shellenback, who gained fame as a spitballer in the Pacific Coast League some years ago and now is supervisor of minor league pitching personnel of the Giants.

In an interview with Jimmy Powers of the New York Daily News, Shelly has listed reasons why this controversial pitch should be legalized:

  1. It would restore a balance to the game sadly lacking in this day of seven-hour double-headers and boring processions of hurlers from bull pen to the mound.
  2. It would add up to ten years to the career of the average hurler who could master the art of throwing the pitch.
  3. It would cement a link to old-time averages; return the game to its original characteristics.

Through the years, a lot of weird stories have sprung up about the spitter. It has been charged it is a "dangerous" pitch that would fly wild about the plate and injure hitters. It has been branded "unsanitary" and a nightmare for fielding infielders.

"None of this is true," Shellenback told Powers. "A man doesn't use a spitter unless he has the wrist action to use it. If he can make the ball break, he has wonderful control. But the ball definitely does not fly wild. The knuckler, which is legal today, is far more dangerous. No one, the pitcher or the catcher, can tell you exactly where the knuckler is going. So, forget about the spitter being a danger to the hitter."

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