Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about baseball and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the baseball urban legends featured so far.
BASEBALL URBAN LEGEND: Tony Horton had an amusing response to being retired by Steve Hamilton on a trick pitch.
Steve Hamilton played for the Minneapolis Lakers for two seasons, 1958-1960, before going into professional baseball.
Hamilton had a decent career as a reliever and spot starter. Also, he was featured in Studs Turkel’s great book, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, which was a survey of various jobs in America in the early 1970s.
In 1970, towards the end of his career (1972 was his last season), he pitched the ninth inning of a game at Yankee Stadium against the Cleveland Indians that the Yankees were losing 7-2.
With the game more or less out of reach, Hamilton had a little fun with the first batter, Tony Horton. Hamilton had a pitch that he called the “Folly Floater,” which is an “eephus” pitch. That is, a pitch that is like the word “eephus,” basically nothing. It’s just a lobbed pitch. The strategy behind it is the idea that if the batter is not expecting it, it, it can sometimes catches him unaware and go for a strike.
Even when a batter IS aware of it, it can cause problems, as was seen that June day in 1970. Horton fouled off the “Folly Floater” then actually asked Hamilton to throw it again! Hamilton, to the amusement of the crowd, complied and threw it again.
Hamilton popped it up and Yankee catcher Thurman Munson made a great catch on the pop up for the out. What happened next is baseball comic genius!
The embarrassed Horton played it as well as you could expect. When he returned to the Cleveland dugout, he actually got down on all fours and crawled into the dugout!!
A hilarious moment in Yankee Stadium history, and guess what?
Someone has it on YouTube!!!
I doubt this will last, so enjoy it while you can…
Thanks a lot to microferret for the clip!
And rest in peace, Steve Hamilton, who passed away from cancer in 1997.
The legend is…
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