Baseball statistics intrigue baseball fans and none more so than the speed of pitches. Newspapers carry the stories of these legendary pitchers.
History of recording baseball pitch speed
Radar to track the speed of pitches was introduced in 1935. Previous to that, photo-electric cells were used, and speeds were clocked in feet per second. The pitcher threw the ball into a two-foot square hole in a laboratory located in a trailer. Photo-electric tubes were placed five feet apart and the ball was tracked between those two points. Radar guns are now installed in every major baseball stadium.
Fast pitchers in history
Before accurate tracking, the fastest pitchers in history are thought to be Walter Johnson, Smoky Joe Wood, Satchel Paige, Lefty Grove, Chief Bender, Amos Rusie, and Bob Feller. In 1914, Walter Johnson reached 99.7 miles per hour (mph) using a speeding motorcycle test. Results were tracked also by a gravity drop interval recorder and reported in the newspaper later as 134 feet per second, while Smoky Joe Wood's time was 124. In 1958, Steve Dalkowski was clocked at 105 mph.
The 100 MPH Club
Pitchers clocked by radar throwing faster than 100 mph are tracked by Baseball Almanac's 100 MPH Club. Pitchers who have hit 100 mph include Kerry Wood in 2005, Rafael Soriano in 2007, Dustin McGowan in 2005, Brad Lidge in 2007,and Radhames Liz in 2007. Other pitchers who have pitched at 100 mph include Brian Wilson (2008), Derrick Turnbow (2005), Stephen Strasburg (2010), Ben Sheets (2004), C.C. Sabathia (2002), J.R Richard (1976), Jorge Julio (2004), Rich Harden (1990), Dwight Gooden (1990), Francisco Cordero (2004), Bartolo Colon (1999), Josh Beckett (2003), Andrew Cashner (2010), Joba Chamber'lain (2008) Roger Clemens (2001), and Brandon Marrow (2010).
Pitchers who have thrown over 101 and beyond
This list of elite pitchers includes They include Billy Wagner's 101 pitch in 2003, Seth McClung's 101 pitch in 2007, A.J. Burnett (2005), Rob Dibble (1992), Kyle Farnsworth (2004), Eric Gagne (2004), Tim Lincecum (2007), Ubaldo Jimenez ((2009), Jose Mesa (1993), Tony Pena ((2007) and Guillermo Mota in 2002.
Pitchers with fastballs over 102 include Jonathan Broxton in 2009, and Justin Verlander's 102 pitch in 2007. Randy Johnson's threw 102 in 2004, Armando Benitez in 2002, Bobby Jenks in 2005, Matt Lindstrom in 2007, and Henry Rodriguez in 2010. Only two pitchers pitched 103 mph. Bobby Rarnell threw 103 mph on August 8, 1020 in Minute Maid Park, and Neftali Feliz threw 103.4 mph on September 1, 2010 at Ranger's Ballpark.
The top two fastest pitchers in baseball
The top two spots belong to Joel Zumay and Aroldis Chapman. Zumaya threw 104.8 mph on September 10, 2006, at McAfee Coliseum. This record stood until September 25, 2010, when Chapmen threw a record 105.1 mph pitch, at PETCO Ballpark. Chapman was a relief left handed pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds. The pitch was thrown against San Diego's Tony Gwynn, Jr, and the umpire called the pitch an inside ball.