Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Folly Floater.

When I was a kid, about nine or 10, the Yankees were pretty forlorn. They won the pennant in 1964, but had dropped to 6th place in 1965 and dead last in 1966. The Yankees finishing last was something they hadn't done for something like 50 years--since the waning days of the McKinley administration.

Somewhere along the way my father became friendly with a pitcher on the club named Steve Hamilton. Hamilton was what you'd call a journeyman. He pitched for six clubs in his 12 year career, winning just 40 games while losing 31. He was one of the few pitching bright spots when the Yankees finished last in '66, winning 8 and losing but 3.

Along the way, Hamilton invented a pitch he called the "folly floater." The New York Times described it this way in Hamilton's obituary, "In 1969, he developed the Folly Floater, in which he stepped toward the plate, made his body hesitate and then released the ball in a high arc. The pitch delighted spectators and infuriated batters.

The first time he threw the Folly Floater, he struck out Tony Horton on three pitches, and the Cleveland first baseman crawled back to the dugout in surrender."

Later on in Hamilton's career when he was pitching in the National League, the Folly Floater was banned.

Back to when I was nine, Steve Hamilton invited me and my brother to Yankee Stadium and we got to go down on the field to meet him. He was 6'7" and my brother and I were still short of 5 feet tall. And somehow in the black and white glossy we got from that day, all three of us managed to blink simultaneously.

I've been thinking about Hamilton and the Folly Floater because he was able to create something that didn't look like anything else.

A lot of the work we do in the industry gets through all the cracks because it looks like things we have seen before. It's comforting and easy to buy work that feels like work should feel. Hamilton at least tried to do something different. How successful he would have been using the Floater over the long haul, we'll never know. But at least Hamilton tried.

I wonder how many ECDs or clients would today approve a Folly Floater.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Geo, on a related note (eephus pitches), did you see that Bill "The Spaceman" Lee returned to pro ball at age 63, and won his first game a few weeks ago?

And yes, by popular demand he did throw an eephus (gave up a hit, alas). Seems to me the Folly Floater and its ilk will always have a home between the lines, if not at the boardroom table.