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'THE OUTLAWED SPITBALL WAS MY MONEY PITCH'
Dick Young
July 04, 1955
The retired Dodger hero admits he threw a "wet one" and tells how other players like Campanella, Reese and Hodges of his own team and Durocher, Maglie and Sewell of the enemy reacted to it
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July 04, 1955

'the Outlawed Spitball Was My Money Pitch'

The retired Dodger hero admits he threw a "wet one" and tells how other players like Campanella, Reese and Hodges of his own team and Durocher, Maglie and Sewell of the enemy reacted to it

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ROE'S RECORD
The Preacher was 22 when he came to St. Louis in 1938. Years in which he employed spitball are in boldface.

Year

Club

Won

Lost

Pct.

1938

St. L.

0

0

.000

1944

Pitts.

13

11

.542

1945

Pitts.

14

13

.519

1946

Pitts.

3

8

.273

1947

Pitts.

4

15

.211

1948

Bklyn.

12

8

.600

1949

Bklyn.

15

6

.714

1950

Bklyn.

19

11

.633

1951

Bklyn.

22

3

.880

1952

Bklyn.

11

2

.846

1953

Bklyn.

11

3

.786

1954

Bklyn.

3

4

.429

Totals

127

84

.602

WORLD SERIES RECORD

1949

Bklyn.

1

0

1.000

1952

Bklyn.

1

0

1.000

1953

Bklyn.

0

1

.000

Totals

2

1

.667

Now I'm out of baseball I guess it's all right to talk about my pitching," Elwin Charles (Preacher) Roe said. He was dressed in street clothes and rested one foot on the top step of the Brooklyn dugout in Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The Dodgers were in for a three-game series with the Cards and The Preach had come up from West Plains, Mo., 155 miles away, to see his old teammates.

"Lot of people have asked me what I used to throw," Roe said, his eyes still on the Dodgers, who were taking batting practice. He turned with a self-conscious movement, as though he were taking off his shirt in public. "I like to tell 'em it was my sinker. Well, you know, the ball did drop real pretty, but it was more than a little ol' sinker. I guess it won't hurt anybody to tell the truth now. I threw spitballs the whole time I was with the Dodgers. Seven years in all."

The fact that he finally had said it seemed to give Roe a kick. He laughed.

"This isn't a confession and my conscience doesn't bother me a bit. Maybe the book says I was cheating, but I never felt that way. I wasn't the only one that did it. There still are some guys wetting 'em up right now. I know one or two of them, but it's not up to me to tell their names. When they get ready to, 'maybe they will. I'm just going to talk about me; why I did it, and why I don't think there's anything wrong with it.

"A pitcher will take any little advantage he can today, and I don't blame him. I'd pitch in front of the rubber when I had a chance. I never used a cut ball much, but I wasn't too proud to—and neither are a lot of the guys around the league.

"One time last year when I was being relieved I stood on the mound and cut a ball with my fingernail real deep. I handed it to the new boy and said: " 'I've got a hole in that one if you want to use it. You can get another ball if you want.'

" 'Give it to me,' he said—and he struck out the next batter on three pitches. He's still around, so I'm not gonna say who it was.

"I don't say all the little tricks pitchers use now and then should be legalized, but, hell, the spitball should be. It's not dangerous—no more than the knuckler, and nobody's outlawed that. If they want to know the real truth, you can control a spitter lots easier than a knuckler. And there ain't many things meaner than a fast ball thrown up close to the head."

Roe turned back to the field and watched Carl Erskine lazily throwing in his first warm-up pitches to Dixie Howell.

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