based on footage from Vintage Baseball’s YouTube page

June 13, 2016

Dizzy Dean leaned forward to take the sign, his hands jostling for position in the crude, tiny leather mitt on his left hand while his elbows performed a lazy, distracted chicken dance in the folds of his wool jersey shirt. Once the catcher gave the sign he was happy with he nodded, took a step back with his right foot and swung his arms together, stretching for the sky above his rakishly tilted cap.

He then lurched forward, returning to earth in a grand, sweeping bow, both arms swinging behind him as if he were a bird taking flight. Coming out of his bow, he brought his hands around and gave himself a hearty handshake before reaching for the sky once again, jamming his his left foot in the soft clay beside the rubber as a brace, so he could plant his right foot squarely against the slab.

Ole’ Diz then swiveled his hips clockwise, bringing his hands down as he kicked his left leg up, as if he was trying to kick the glove off his own hand. His body continued in a purposeful half-circle until the batter could read the number on the back of his uniform. Dean hesitated for a split-second, his arm fully extended and pointing directly at the second baseman, the ball dangling from the splayed fingers of his right hand.

As he swiveled back around and kicked his left leg towards the plate, Diz cocked his right arm behind his ear and delivered the ball with his hand close to his body, as if to deliver a forearm shiver. His entire body sprung forward, generating velocity without putting any undue strain on his arm.

To the naked eye, Dizzy Dean had a violent, theatrical, herky-jerky motion – full of wild and violent swings – but his underlying mechanics were sound and efficient. In other words, Ole’ Diz’ pitching mechanics, like the Arkansas Hummingbird himself, were slicker than they looked.

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