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The Crimson King

Steve Dalkowski

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This should not go unnoticed.

Steve Dalkowski passed away last week from COVID-19. He had the reputation of being the fastest pitcher in history. Here's a blurb from Wikipedia:

Stephen Louis Dalkowski Jr. (June 3, 1939[1] – April 19, 2020), nicknamed Dalko,[2] was an American left-handed pitcher. He was sometimes called the fastest pitcher in baseball history and had a fastball that probably exceeded 100 mph (160 km/h). Some experts believed it went as fast as 110 mph (180 km/h), others that his pitches traveled at less than that speed.[3] As no radar gun or other device was available at games to measure the speed of his pitches precisely, the actual top speed of his pitches remains unknown. Regardless of its actual speed, his fastball earned him the nickname "White Lightning".[4] Such was his reputation that despite never reaching the major leagues, and finishing his minor league years in class-B ball, the 1966 Sporting News item about the end of his career was headlined "Living Legend Released."[5]

Dalkowski was also famous for his unpredictable performance and inability to control his pitches. His alcoholism and violent behavior off the field caused him problems during his career and after his retirement. After he retired from baseball, he spent many years as an alcoholic, making a meager living as a manual laborer. He recovered in the 1990s, but his alcoholism left him with dementia[citation needed] and he had difficulty remembering his life after the mid-1960s.

Screenwriter and film director Ron Shelton played in the Baltimore Orioles minor league organization soon after Dalkowski. His 1988 film Bull Durham features a character named "Nuke" LaLoosh (played by Tim Robbins) who is based loosely on the tales Shelton was told about Dalkowski.[6][7] Brendan Fraser's character in the film The Scout is loosely based on him.[8][unreliable source?] In 1970, Sports Illustrated's Pat Jordan wrote, "Inevitably, the stories outgrew the man, until it was no longer possible to distinguish fact from fiction. But, no matter how embellished, one fact always remained: Dalkowski struck out more batters and walked more batters per nine-inning game than any professional pitcher in baseball history."[5]

 

He was famous for such events as throwing a no hitter wherein he K'd 18, but walked 18. He once k'd 24 in a single game. His record was fascinating: 

https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=dalkow001ste

446 walks, 423 strikeouts in 225 innings in his first three years is amazing

IIRC, the story was that Earl Weaver managed him towards the end of his short career. He had his IQ tested and it turned out to be well below average so Weaver had him simplfy his game to throw two pitches and just throw it down the middle of the plate. The plan worked and Dalkowski improved to the point that the O's had him in spring training with a shot to finally make the big leagues but he hurt his arm in a game and was never the same.

S'long Steve, I would have liked it see you pitch

 

 

 

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Cal Ripken Sr. was a minor league catcher in the Orioles organization for decades and said that Dalkowski's heat was somewhere around 110-115 MPH.  They tried to capture it one night at a minor league ball park with some sort of antiquated test but he was drunk as a skunk and it was hardly accurate.  Anyway.  RIP to the original Nuke Laloosh!

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Can you imagine a pitch count, 18K's and 18 walks?   His teammates must have been DYING in the field.   Long innings, where the ball is practically never even put into play.

I've heard stories about him as well, he was featured in the documentary "Fastball".   They talked about how he finally started to get some control, and promptly hurt his arm.

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