When MLB met Kershaw’s Kurveball ….

    Cayton Kershaw
    April30/ 2017

    Originally Posted March 2016

    This is a REAL “Inside Baseball” story if there ever was one.  And I LOVE IT.  The phrase “inside baseball” is used to describe any story about anything (sports or otherwise) that is simply too “deep in the weeds” for most casual fans / readers to “get”… or even care about.

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    It requires a detailed appreciation of the “nuances” of whatever the topic might be.   It is intended for aficionados of a subject whether it be gardening, cooking, racing, golf, or, in this case, actually about Baseball.

    This is an account of the first time Major League Baseball met The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw‘s curveball in 2009.

    It was a meaningless spring exhibition game between LA and Boston and the batter was 11-year veteran Sean Casey.  The pitcher was a gangly 19 y/o rookie southpaw from Dallas.  The AB only lasted four pitches and the bat never left Casey’s shoulder.  Baseball insiders on both teams remember it vividly…. three Cy Young Awards later.

    WARNING:  Intended for aficionados only…. others proceed at your own risk…..  IF you enjoyed that Fungo Bat Quirky, you’ll love this one too….



    Kershaw: Ace With the Killer Deuce

    March 7, 16

    Anthony Castrovince


    The kid was tall, he was well built and he was warming for his second outing of his first Major League camp. Vero Beach, Cayton KershawFla. Dodgertown. March 9, 2008.

    Sean Casey watched. On the cusp of his first season with the defending world champion Red Sox, his 11th and final season in the bigs, he knew the league inside and out. But 19-year-olds wearing jersey No. 96 don’t qualify as known quantities, even to a wily vet.

    “Mags,” Casey said to hitting coach Dave Magadan, “do you know this guy?”

    A purse of the lips and a shake of the head.

    “Tito,” he said to manager Terry Francona, “you know him?”


    Casey came up with two out. The first pitch was a rocket. Ninety-seven on the black. Strike one.

    “That was legit,” Casey thought to himself. “That was different.”

    He looked over to the open-air visiting dugout. Magadan shrugged. Francona shrugged.

    Next pitch, curveball. A big old hammer. At the face one moment, at the knees the next. Casey buckled. Strike two.

    This time, he looked over to the home dugout. Joe Torre and Larry Bowa were giggling.

    Now Casey knew. The joke was on him.

    “Who is this guy?”

    Third pitch, another heater on the edge of the zone. Casey couldn’t even muster the momentum to pull the trigger. The umpire, generously, called it a ball. The ump probably figured he was giving the established and notoriously scrupulous hitter the benefit of the doubt, when in fact he was only prolonging the nightmare.

    Finally, mercifully, memorably, the finisher. The curve again. You don’t go through your career striking out in only 10 percent of your plate appearances without the ability to read pitches, to wait on breaking balls. But Casey had never seen anything like this. He surrendered to Uncle Charlie, emphasis on the “uncle.” The rotation, the depth, the free fall like an elevator with a snapped cable. This embarrassing at-bat was as lost at the plate as Casey had ever felt in his professional career. And when the umpire rung him up after four pitches in which the bat never left his shoulder, with Torre and Bowa still laughing in the other dugout, Casey retreated in utter confusion.

    “What the hell just happened?”




    • 58 wolf kennel Reply
      3 years ago

      I believe Keller was playing summer semi-pro baseball down here while a student at Maryland.

    • TheCowdog Reply
      3 years ago

      One time in Clearwater, Steve Carlton wound up on the minor league field to throw an intrasquad game against us lowlies.

      No one, and I mean no one, had a nastier 12-6 and slider combo. Wasn’t fair and I knew, right then and there, I was in a heap o’ trouble. Never saw anything like it…and would never get that chance to again.

      • BobLee Reply
        3 years ago

        Not even Tom Hayes ???

        • TheCowdog Reply
          3 years ago

          Ha! Tommy was like Glavine before there was a Glavine. Location, location, location. He also threw that damned screwball. Helluva little lefty.

          Ya know? State’s had some pitching greats, but when he was dealin’, he was one of the best.

          • BobLee Reply
            3 years ago

            “Carlos” worked out at Tom’s Training Center in Fuquay when he was in high school. Tom “trained” both Carlos & Josh Hamilton. Very Cool !!! 🙂

    • 58 wolf kennel Reply
      3 years ago

      BL, you have outdone yourself, worth more than the price of admission.
      First of all, my Dad, Phil “Lefty” Kennel was born in Brooklyn, sold peanuts at Ebbett’s Field, and came to North Carolina in the early ’30’s to pitch for the New Bern Bears. His claim to fame was striking out Babe Ruth’s Yankee successor Charlie “King Kong” Keller three times in one game on curve balls.
      In 1993 Daddy said he’d like to go to Spring Training one time before he “kicked off”. We took a train to Florida and stayed with the Dodgers at Vero Beach most of a week.
      In 2008 my right- handed pitching son Phil Kennel and I flew to Florida for the Dodger’s last Spring at Vero Beach.
      Kershaw was a Spring “phenom”.
      As a left-handed hitter, I knew Kershaw’s left-handed curve ball would be even more devastating.
      So thanks for this baseball deep-dive, but we all know that curve balls don’t really break, do they :+))

      • BobLee Reply
        3 years ago

        and “King Kong” played for a short time in Kinston…. Only Kershaw’s and Bert Blyeven’s actually “broke”. OK, maybe Koufax’s too 🙂

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