View Full Version : Luis Tiant's fastball

03-06-04, 10:22 PM
In the prologue to Mystic River, the movie, the fathers of two of the boys are sitting outside on a balcony, listening to a sports broadcast. A dialogue something like this ensues:

DAD #1: Did he say who's pitching tonight?

DAD #2: Tiant's pitching.

DAD #1: Goddam Cuban, man. He can hurl it.

DAD #2: I'd hate to be facing him.

DAD #1: Can you imagine? Who are they playing tonight? The Yankees?

DAD #2: The Yankees.

DAD #1: Can you imagine a 92-mile-an-hour fastball coming down at you?

This is either 1974 or 1975; I've read some synopses of the movie that place the prologue in '75, but I thought I heard someone on the broadcast that's heard in the film saying "Last year, in '73."

What I'm wondering is how accurate this is? Tiant is only a name to me ... did he have a 92-mph fastball in '74 or '75, and was 92 mph considered a fastball to be especially feared? :confused:

BTW, I thought it was amusing that the hapless Dave, the victim of the piece, is wearing a Red Sox cap when we first see him here as a boy .. and still wearing a Red Sox cap when we meet him again as a man (Tim Robbins), some twenty-five years later. No wonder he has no luck. ;)

03-06-04, 10:30 PM
Mystic River - terrific book. (haven't seen the movie yet)

Luis Tiant - terrific pitcher. As I recall, he could indeed "bring em"...
He had a Babe Ruth type of body. ha...
And a real sense of humor. I remember him always smiling at something.

Luis rocked.

Dooley Womack
03-07-04, 01:23 AM
Luis had a weird delivery that made it difficult for batters to pick up the ball as well. He pitched for the Yanks too, in case you didn't know

03-07-04, 01:41 AM
Definitely like 11 years before I was born... ;)

03-15-04, 09:35 PM
I'm not sure about his fastball, but Roger Angell had a great set of quotes about his various deliveries. :)

1) Call the Osteopath: In midpitch the man suffers an agonizing seizure in the central cervical region, which he attempts to fight off with a sharp backward twist of the head.

2) Out of the Woodshed: Just before releasing the ball he steps over a raised sill and simultaneously ducks his head to avoid conking it on the low doorframe.

3) The Runaway Taxi:Before the pivot, he sees a vehicle bearing down on him at top speed, and pulls back his entire upper body just in time to avoid a nasty accident.

4) Falling Off the Fence:An attack of vertigo nearly causes him to topple over backward on the mound. Strongly suggests a careless dude on the top rung of the corral.

5) The Slipper-Kick:In the midpitch, he surprisingly decides to get rid of his left shoe.

6) The Low-Flying Plane (a subtle development and amalgam of 1, 3, and 4. above): While he is pivoting, an F-I05 buzzes the ball park, passing over the infield from the third-base to the first-base side at a height of eight feet. He follows it all the way with his eyes.

03-15-04, 09:42 PM
Originally posted by OilCan
I'm not sure about his fastball, but Roger Angell had a great set of quotes about his various deliveries. :)

Actually, when El Duque came to the Yankees his delivery was frequently compared to "El Tiante's"

Though El Duque has that funky knee-to-ear leg-kick, his delivery is otherwise very comparable to Luis Tiante's.

!!Viva Cuba!!

GO :NY:!!!

03-15-04, 10:30 PM
I was in my early teens when Tiant was at his best in the mid 70's. He is a borderline Hall of Famer. What has held him back are a few mediocre years due to injury, high ERA, etc. Supporters make a case that he won 229 games, more than some other HOF players. He also won 20 games 4 times, 3 of those with the Sox. Two years he had sub-2.00 ERAs. To this day no Boston player has been as loved. When he would stroll in from the bullpen to start a game, Fenway would rock with chants of "Loo-ie, Loo-ie". It was amazing.

Two things defined him. One was his unbelievable delivery. Check out old film of the 1975 World Series on ESPN to see him. He would **** his glove slowly down his chest to his waist before delivering, then go into his windup, twisting to face centerfield in mid-delivery before twisting around to fire the ball. He had a half-dozen or so pitches. At his best he made hitters look pathetic. He would mix in a 90+MPH fastball with a ridiculous curveball that faked batters out of their shoes.

His second signature was that of a big game pitcher. Arguably there was no better pitcher when it all was on the line in his era. The toughest AL pitchers then were probably HOF guys Jim Palmer of Baltimore and Catfish Hunter of Oakland/ NYY, and Vida Blue of Oakland. When the Sox played these guys Tiant was at his best, winning a bunch of 1-0 and 2-1 games. I have been lucky enough to watch Pedro and Clemens in Boston, but I think I would pick Tiant over either of them for a Game 7. He was that good under pressure. In 1975 he held the 3-time defending champion A's to three hits in the playoffs, shut out the Reds in Game 1 of the World Series, and then with nothing in the tank pitched 163 (!!!) pitches in to win Game 4.

You Yankee fans know all about '78. What often isn't remembered is that after the Sox collapsed and fell 3 1/2 back they actually went on a big winning streak to tie the Yanks and force the Bucky Dent playoff game. Tiant's last game as a Red Sox was the previous game -- he pitched a 2-hit shutout to force the playoff game.

"If a man put a gun to my head and said I'm going to pull the trigger if you lose this game, I'd want Luis Tiant to pitch that game." - Boston Red Sox Manager Darrell Johnson

"(Luis) Tiant didn't join the Red Sox until mid-career, but he became one of the most popular players in club history. A balding, overweight starter whose age was often estimated at several years higher that its 'official' listing, Tiant spoke with a thick Cuban accent and would smoke cigars anywhere, including the clubhouse whirlpool and shower. He was a renowned locker-room prankster, but was serious on the mound, winning 20 games three times for Boston. He baffled hitters with a rocking, twisting windup and an assortment of release points that ranged from over-the-top to nearly underhand." - Steve Holtje in baseballibrary.com

"Over a period of ten starts, beginning with this game in Chicago, Luis would furnish a record of 9-1 with six shutouts and a 0.96 ERA, all nine victories being complete games. He started off with four straight shutouts, his streak of 40 scoreless innings ending during a four-hit victory over the Yankees at Fenway. After a loss in Yankee Stadium, Luis shut out the Indians in Fenway Park. Before the second game of a twi-night doubleheader against the Orioles on September 20, the fans rose to their feet as Luis walked to the bullpen to warm up and gave him such an ovation that his teammates joined in the applause, and several reported that they had goose bumps. The crowd spent most of the evening chanting "Loo-Eee, Loo-Eee, Loo-Eee", a sound that brings a smile to countless middle-aged people in Boston to this day. When he came up to bat in the bottom on the eighth on his way to yet another shutout, the crowd rose to give him an ovation that continued throughout his at-bat, during the break between innings, and throughout the entire top of the ninth. Larry Claflin, writing in the Boston Herald the next morning, compared it to "the last time Joe DiMaggio went to bat in Boston, or Bob Cousy's final game." Carl Yastrzemski, who had one of baseball's most famous Septembers himself only five years earlier, said "I've never heard anything like that in my life. But I'll tell you one thing: Tiant deserved every bit of it." -- Mark Amour

"I (Tiant) give heem (Frank Howard during April 28, 1968 two-hitter) shoulder, back, fooot and da ball last," and Frank Howard commented, "He threw everything at me but the ball." - in The Cleveland Press

"He did this by keeping them laughing, largely by making fun of everyone, including himself. He called Yastrzemski "Polacko" and Fisk "Frankenstein" among some of his cleaner sobriquets. A barrel-chested man who looked fatter than he really was, he would emerge from the shower with a cigar in his mouth, look at his naked body in the mirror and declare "good-lookeen sonofabeech" in his exaggerated Spanish accent." - Mark Amour

Jim Roche
03-16-04, 06:53 AM
I saw Tiant in his first start against the Yanks in 1964... Struck out 14 or 15. He had a great fastball then...but after "64, he developed arm trouble, was shipped to the Twins in '69 ....bounced around in the Minors & Mexico...learned how to pitch and the Red Sox picked him up in '73 or "74 a much different pitcher than in 1964.....