I had to Google this one when I heard about it this morning, because I personally have never seen one in a professional ballgame before (or, really, any ballgame, unless you count Little League).
An eephus pitch, which translates to “nothing” pitch, is a very, very slow pitch with virtually nothing on it. Supposedly, the pitch received its name from outfielder Maurice Van Robays, who explained, “Eephus ain’t nothing, and that’s a nothing pitch.” Due to its lack of velocity, the eephus pitch floats to the plate in a high arc, resembling a pitch thrown in a slow pitch softball game, except thrown with an overhand motion. Since it appears so rarely, by throwing an eephus pitch, a pitcher can catch a hitter off guard.
Last night, in a game between the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and the Hanshin Tigers in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, Kazuhito Tadano tossed this doozy of a pitch while facing Mauro Gomez. The pitch discombobulated the umpire, who called it a ball, in spite of its crossing the plate seemingly through the strike zone.
To watch the video of Tadano’s eephus pitch, click here.