Monday, July 22, 2013
Knuckleball! (2012) - Directed by Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg.
By Kenny Howell
Despite the unneeded exclamation point in the title, Knuckleball! is an interesting look at the quirky pitch that has defined some careers.
The movie spends most of its time on Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey. Wakefield just retired after 20 seasons in the big league, and Dickey has had a career resurgence after taking on the pitch after a failed attempt to be a more orthodox pitcher. He won the Cy Young Award last year, after filming had wrapped on the documentary.
Both were meant to be big leaguers in other ways. Wakefield was a position player that just didn't have the stuff to make it to the big leagues. A coach saw him messing around with the knuckleball during practice and told him to develop it. He burst onto the scene in 1992 with the Pirates, leading them to the NL Championship series against the Braves. After the Pirates gave up on him because of some bad outings, the Red Sox picked him up and he spent 17 seasons there, becoming the all-time leader in innings pitched for the franchise.
Dickey was a regular pitcher, but an absence of a tendon in his arm caused some teams to back off of him. He gave it a go as a regular pitcher and couldn't make it, so he reinvented himself as a knuckleballer.
The movie is good for an inside look at the game, particularly these two men and how the pitch defines them. It's a must for baseball fans.