SI Vault
Joan Ackermann-Blount
July 16, 1979
Embarrassed by her feeble tosses, the author-shortstop seeks to learn why she throws a ball "like a girl"
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July 16, 1979

Up In Arms About My Arm

Embarrassed by her feeble tosses, the author-shortstop seeks to learn why she throws a ball "like a girl"

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Pitcher Bob Welch said, "Start at just 10 feet apart and work your way out. Don't start throwing 60 feet. Just start at short distances and keep practicing until you get your distance." He tipped his hat and loped away with a gangly stride. I looked enviously at the arm swinging from his right shoulder, the same arm he used to replace a light bulb or pat a dog. That's his instrument and it's built-in. He doesn't unscrew it at the end of the day and put it away, like a saxophone, in a velvet-lined case. That arm will grow old with him. I looked at my arm; it was turning brown.

Several of the players had girl friends or wives who could throw well. My conversation never got very far with them. They would look at me as if asking, "You can't throw?"

Reggie Jackson, who was at Dodgertown for an exhibition game, said, "The girl I'm dating right now...she can throw and catch just like a man. [Notice he said, "just like a man."] I get a kick out of it. See that blue man out there?" Behind second base there was a man dressed in blue picking up pieces of paper. "I play catch with her from here to there," Jackson went on. "You should see her throw"

I didn't want to see her throw.

A couple of the coaches were helpful. Del Crandall, the old Braves' catcher, was the first person I talked to who really seemed to have given some thought to the question of women throwing. "I think the problem with most women is that they lead with their elbows," he said. "You've got to get the elbow on about the same level as the shoulder—either get it slightly above or slightly below. The throw is actually an unorthodox movement."

"Is it?" I asked with enthusiasm. I liked the notion of not being able to do something I wasn't supposed to do in the first place.

"The natural inclination would be to throw underhand," Crandall added.

"I heard Don Sutton telling his son to throw with both feet on the ground. Is that right?" I said. I didn't tell Crandall that, for the first two months of my throwing career, I had been leading off with the wrong foot.

"Yes, but your weight should shift from your right leg onto your left leg," he said. "The leg in front should be slightly bent. If you keep your leg straight, you block the momentum of your throw. When the back leg comes up, it shouldn't come up like this." Crandall lifted his leg straight up behind him. "The leg should twist around like this, so the whole body is twisting," he said. We twisted together.

Another coach, Ron Perranoski, agreed to borrow a glove for me and throw with me.

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