Evolution of deliveries

From the big motions of the early 20th century to today's compact models, pitching windups continue to change.

Originally Published: August 5, 2004
By Rob Neyer | ESPN Insider
Walter Johnson's fastball was, from roughly 1910 through 1935, the fastball against which all others were measured. If you watch film of him pitching, though, you'd never guess it. Not only did Johnson throw sidearm, but he threw with so little apparent effort that when he completed his delivery, his trailing leg didn't even spring forward. It just sort of followed along, as if it weren't even a necessary part of the process.

Warren Spahn
Warren Spahn shows his big leg kick in the '58 World Series.

Johnson might have been one of the last power pitchers who didn't look like a power pitcher, though. Dazzy Vance, a big right-hander who led the National League in strikeouts in each of his first seven full seasons (1922-1928), generated his power with a famously high leg kick that brought his left foot above his head in mid-delivery (a few years later, Bob Feller would pitch the same way, though later in his career he decided the high kick wasn't necessary).