The Story of the Shake
To my great surprise, the post I did on pitching the other day has made its way around the internet and become my most popular post of all time. Much of the interest has been in Satoru Komiyama‘s breaking pitch the shake.
Most of what I know about the shake comes from Japanese baseball bible Shukan Baseball, specifically this issue from June 2006 (which I happen to have a print copy of). Though it’s small, the image on that page shows Komiyama demonstrating the grip he uses for the shake. It’s hard to see, but his grip is is clearly more like a forkball than a typical knuckleball. Conversely, he throws it with a minimal delivery that resembles a knuckleballer’s windup more than anything else.
Here are selected quotes from my own, unofficial translation of the article:
“This is the pitch I came up with when Bobby Valentine asked me to ‘make the ball shake’ during the 2004 off-season. At first I tried a knuckleball but I couldn’t throw it with the typical grip, and thinking that it was enough to make the ball wiggle, I arrived that the shake. The grip is a forkball without the thumb. When I tried this pitch I got the shaking movement.”
“Putting spin on this pitch would be pointless, since the basic idea is to throw the pitch to be received in the mitt just as it is. Therefor, I don’t put any power into it and use a loose form.”
“The grip is different, but the trajectory is that of a knuckleball. I didn’t call it a knuckleball because if people who spent their lives mastering the knuckleball saw it, they would think it’s wrong, so I named it the Shake.”
“I’m still at a level where if I throw 10, only 6 will go for strikes so I still have to improve on this.”
To go along with it, I found a couple more highlights of Komiyama throwing the shake in game action. Enjoy!
- Komiyama sets up Kazuhiro Wada for a strikeout with the shake. Note the way he telegraphs the pitch by using a completely different delivery.
- Chunichi slugger Tyrone Woods gets a shake in an 0-1 count and grounds out weakly to Komiyama.
- Seibu’s pudgy 3rd baseman Takeya Nakamura crushes a shake for a line-drive homerun.
PS: take a look at the scores when Komiyama throws the shake.