#29 Steve Dalkowski

Steve who?

So you may have just seen it if you were really paying attention to the sports page and trying to find a story that did not involve today’s NFL Football draft and the new LA Chargers quarterback.

No, Steve Dalkowski has nothing to do with the Chargers or the draft.

Steve died yesterday at the age of 80.

A sad day no doubt for the Dalkowski family; but a great time to remember the things that might have been.

Ted Williams, the most famous of all Boston Red Sox, faced the wild throwing Dalkowski in a spring training game, and after one pitch, retired for the day, saying he never wanted to be in the batter’s box against Dalkowski again.

Steve Dalkowski has been credited with one of the greatest fastballs of all time.  In one minor league game he struck out 24 batters….and walked 18.  You get the picture.  Cal Ripken, Sr. was his minor league catcher and estimated his fastball at over 115 miles per hour.  But he never knew where the pitch was going.  Nor did the batter…

In 956 innings he struck out over 1300 batters, but walked over 1200.

Sad to say, Steve Dalkowski never made it to the major leagues.

You just wonder, why couldn’t someone have worked with Steve and convinced him to take a few miles an hour off the pitches and work on his control…but I guess that just never happened.

All the talent in the world, fastest pitcher in organized baseball ever, and he never made it to the “bigs”.

Sad story.

But wait, there is a little bit more that is not so sad.

Steve became the poster child for Ron Shelton, himself a minor league player for 5 years in the Baltimore Orioles farm system.  Shelton went on to write and direct “Bull Durham”, modeling the main character, Nuke LaLoosh played by Tim Robbins, after the real life story of Steve Dalkowski.

Statistics will tell you that less than 1% of high school varsity baseball players ever make the major leagues.  You can imagine what that statistic might look like for the 9 and 10 year old Little Leaguers dreaming of playing at Dodger Stadium; Miniscule; much more than a long shot.

Steve Dalkowski had the arm.  He had the gift.  He had the future.  But unfortunately, he just never had the right stuff.

I am not sure what the lesson is here.  I guess one could say, keep playing,  keep dreaming,  keep throwing as hard as you can and just hope you get throw a few more strikes than balls…

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