One of the rarest pitches in baseball, the forkball is known for its severe downward break as it approaches the plate. Because of the torque involved with snapping off a forkball, it can be one of the more taxing pitches to throw.
When throwing a forkball, a pitcher jams the baseball between his index and middle fingers before releasing the pitch with a downward snap of the wrist. This causes the extreme downward movement on the baseball as it approaches the plate, similar to that of a 12-to-6 curveball.
The forkball is far more uncommon than its cousin, the splitter, which is gripped in similar fashion but closer to the tips of the fingers. Also, in contrast, a splitter does not require a wrist-snapping action.
Bullet Joe Bush, a right-hander who pitched from 1912-28, threw the pitch as an alternative to his curveball, which he could no longer throw because of the strain it put on his already fatigued arm. Other pitchers of that era threw similar variations of the forkball, but Bush is generally the player credited with having invented it.
Watch: Junichi Tazawa strikes out Wil Myers on a forkball.
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