Spitball Pitchers and the 1920 Rule

The Spitball Pitchers in baseball caused MLB to put the spitball rule into effect in 1920. Baseball Rule Eight, The Pitcher (refer to MLB Rule Book 8.02(a)1-6.

This baseball rule is very clear and to violate this rule and throw or alter the baseball with any of the following:

    1.  Spit Ball

    2.  Mud Ball

    3.  Shine Ball

    4.  Emery Ball

The umpire must call the pitch a ball and must give a warning to the pitcher. In the amateur baseball game the umpire must warn the coach or manager. In the MLB the reason for the called ball is announced over the public address system.

The spitball rule was effective for the 1920 major league baseball season. The spitball and any other substance applied to the baseball by the pitcher was not allowed. There were, however, a group of pitchers who kept throwing and altering the baseball despite the rule throughout their careers. The following is a list of those players and the MBL team they played for.

DON SUTTON LA DODGERS SPITBALL SPECIALIST

Spitball Pitchers in the American League

Doc Ayer
Ray Caldwell
Stan Coveleski
Red Faber
Dutch Leonard
Jack Quinn
Alan Russell
Urban Shocker
Allen Sothoroy
Detroit Tigers
Cleveland Indians
Cleveland Indians
Chicago White Sox
Detroit Tigers
New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox
St Louis Browns
St Louis Browns

Spitball Pitchers in the National League

Bill Doak
Phil Doublas
Dana Fillingim
Ray Fisher
Marv Goodwin
Burle Grimes
Clarence Mitchell
Dick Rudolph
St Louis Cardinals
New York Giants
Boston Braves
Cincinnati Red
St Louis Cardinals
Brooklyn Dodgers
Brooklyn Dodgers
Boston Braves
BURLEIGH GRIMES SPITE BALL SPECIALIST

Nicknamed “OLD STUDEBAKER”, Burleigh Grimes hurled for the Dodgers and had a winning season of 34 games in 1919. When the new baseball spitball rule came into effect in 1920, he had 22 wins. Grimes pitched another 14 seasons and his career total wins was 270 games.

In 1959 on April 15, a rookie for the Cardinals of St. Louis, young Bob Gibson pitched his first MLB game. Gibson dominated the National League hitters and is a national baseball Hall of Famer. He said later, “Rules or no rules, pitchers are going to throw the spitter. It is a matter of survival.”

BOB GIBSON
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS


The following are some modern-era pitchers thought to have used “the spitter”:

Steve Carlton
Bob Gibson
Gaylord Perry
Joe Niekro
Don Sutton
Bob Shaw
Clay Buchholtz
Cal Koonce
Nels Potter
Tommy Briggs
Tim Leary
Brendon Donnelly
Phillies
Cardinals
Padres/Indians
Twins
Dodgers
Braves
Red Sox
Mets
Browns
Tigers
Yankees
Angels

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