What is a Banana in Baseball?

Baseball is a sport that is full of idiosyncratic terms, and one of the most unique terms is “banana”. In baseball, a banana is a type of pitch that is thrown with a lot of spin, resulting in a curve or break that looks like a banana. The term “banana” is often used to describe a pitch that has a very sharp break.

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Origin of the Term

The term “banana” first appeared in the early days of the sport, when pitchers were experimenting with different ways of throwing a curveball. According to some accounts, the term was coined by a catcher who noticed that the pitch had a curved shape that looked like a banana. The term soon caught on among players and fans alike, and it has been in use ever since.

How a Banana Pitch is Thrown

A banana pitch is thrown with a lot of spin, causing it to break or curve sharply as it approaches the plate. This spin is created by the pitcher throwing the ball with a slightly sideways motion, combined with a “snap” of the wrist as the ball is released. The result is a pitch that starts off straight and then breaks sharply just before reaching the plate.

The Advantages of a Banana Pitch

The banana pitch has several advantages for the pitcher. First, because it breaks so sharply, it can be difficult for the batter to predict where the ball is going, making it harder to hit. Secondly, the spin on the pitch makes it difficult for the batter to generate power and drive the ball, which can result in weak contact or even an easy out. Finally, because the pitch is thrown with a lot of spin, it can be difficult for the catcher to handle, which can lead to wild pitches or passed balls.

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The Disadvantages of a Banana Pitch

The banana pitch also has some drawbacks. Because the pitch is thrown with so much spin, it can be difficult for the pitcher to control. If the spin is not just right, the pitch may not break as sharply as expected, or it may break too much and end up in the dirt. Additionally, the pitch can be difficult for the catcher to handle, as the spin can cause the ball to move around unpredictably.

Popular Banana Pitchers

Several famous pitchers have made the banana pitch their trademark. Perhaps the most famous banana pitcher of all time is Sandy Koufax, the legendary left-hander who won three Cy Young Awards with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Koufax was known for his sharp curveball, which he threw with a lot of spin and a sharp break that resembled a banana.

Other notable banana pitchers include Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, who famously threw a curveball with a sharp break, and current Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, who throws a sharp-breaking slider that has been nicknamed the “Kershaw Curve”.

Conclusion

The banana pitch is a unique type of pitch that is thrown with a lot of spin, resulting in a curve or break that looks like a banana. The term “banana” first appeared in the early days of the sport, and has been in use ever since. The pitch has several advantages for the pitcher, including the ability to confuse the batter and make it harder to hit the ball. However, the pitch can also be difficult to control, and the spin can make it difficult for the catcher to handle. Several famous pitchers have made the banana pitch their trademark, including Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Clayton Kershaw.