For over a
century baseball fans have debated the question of whether a "curve ball
does in fact curve". Only rarely has there been objective scientific
testing in order to verify what is so obviously the appearance of a curve.
interest had stemmed from a phone call he received from United Aircraft's
Lauren (Deac) Lyman who over lunch with Walter Neff of United Airlines, had
discussed the question of the trajectory of a baseball.
who has a wind tunnel, called his engineers together presenting the problem as
follows: "Here we have a solid sphere, moving
rapidly in space and rotating on a vertical axis. You see? ... the object is to
elude the man with the stick". It should be noted that baseball
was a rather foreign endeavor to Mr. Sikorsky.
To hit a ball the maximum possible distance, the
trajectory off the bat should have a 35-degree angle.
A line drive travels 100 yards in 4 seconds. A fly to the
outfield travels 98 yards in 4.3 seconds.
An average head wind (10 mph) can turn a 400-foot home
run into a 370-foot routine out.
Ever since the
first recorded game, June 19, 1846 at Elysian Field in Hoboken, New Jersey, the
spirit of baseball has swept America off its feet. Although changes have
altered the sport throughout the years, the foundation upon which baseball was
built still remains the same. That foundation is the classic conflict between
the pitcher and batter. It is this conflict that continues to amaze the older
fans and attract the new ones.
George Brett of
the Kansas City Royals caused quite a stir with his Hillerich and Bradsby pine
tar bat in 1983. On July 24th, Brett hit a home run off Yankee reliever Goose
Gossage in the ninth inning to give the Royals a 5-4 lead. Because the bat had
pine tar beyond the legal limit of 18 inches, measuring from the bat handle,
the home plate umpire disallowed the round-tripper. As a matter of fact, I
recall that Brett had pine tar halfway into the Louisville Slugger trademark.
However, this decision was later reversed and the pine tar home run did count.
Kansas City ultimately defeated the Yankees, 5-4.