Glove and Bat

The Forkball Pitch: Techniques and Tips for Mastering the Art

Pitching in baseball is an art that requires a combination of speed, accuracy, and deception. One of the most challenging and intriguing pitches in the game is the forkball pitch.

The forkball pitch is an off-speed breaking pitch that can be used by pitchers to keep batters guessing. This pitch is similar to a splitter pitch, as both pitches involve holding the ball with the index and middle fingers while spreading them apart.

However, the forkball pitch differs from the splitter in terms of the grip and throwing motion. In this article, we will dive deep into the world of the forkball pitch.

We’ll begin by defining what it is and how it got its name. Then, we will discuss how to throw the forkball pitch, including the grip, arm angle, spin movement, and release.

By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of this unique pitch and how it can be used to keep batters off balance. What is a Forkball Pitch?

A forkball pitch is an off-speed breaking pitch that combines the grip of a splitter pitch with a unique throwing motion. Pitchers use the forkball pitch to deceive batters by making the ball appear as a fastball before dropping straight down or away from the plate at the last moment.

This pitch is particularly tricky for batters to hit because it looks like a fastball, but it drops sharply and unpredictably. The forkball pitch is also sometimes referred to as a split-fingered fastball or just a forkball.

It is a variation of the splitter pitch, which is a popular off-speed pitch used by many pitchers. However, the forkball grip and throwing motion differ from that of a splitter.

Why is it called a Forkball Pitch? The forkball pitch got its name from the grip used by the pitcher.

To throw a forkball pitch, the pitcher must grip the ball with the index and middle fingers spread apart, creating what looks like a “fork in the road”. This grip is similar to how one would hold a pitchfork.

The forkball pitch is sometimes confused with a splitter pitch because they have a similar grip. However, the forkball grip requires the fingers to be spread further apart than a splitter grip.

The forkball pitch also has a different throwing motion that involves a higher release point and a snap wrist motion.

How to throw a Forkball Pitch


The first step in throwing a forkball pitch is to master the grip. The pitcher should hold the ball with the index and middle fingers spread apart as far as possible, creating a “fork in the road” or a “V” shape.

The fingertips of both fingers should be on the seams of the ball, and the thumb should rest along the bottom of the ball. The grip should be loose to allow a snap wrist motion later in the throwing motion.

Arm Angle

The forkball pitch requires a slightly different arm angle than a fastball or curveball. The pitcher should aim to throw the pitch with a more sidearm motion, allowing the ball to drop straight down.

A high arm angle can result in the ball dropping too far inside, hitting the batter.

Spin Movement

As the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand, it should have backspin to create the desired spin movement. The backspin allows the ball to drop straight down or away from the hitter.

Without backspin, the ball may not behave as intended and can end up being hit hard by the batter.


The release of the forkball pitch is unique and requires a higher deliver point than other pitches. The pitcher should snap their wrist downwards while releasing the ball to create the necessary spin.

The higher deliver point adds to the deception of the pitch, making the ball look like a fastball before dropping suddenly.


In conclusion, the forkball pitch is a challenging and effective pitch to master. With the right grip, arm angle, spin movement, and release, a pitcher can surprise batters and keep them off balance.

This pitch requires practice and patience to execute correctly, but it can be a valuable addition to any pitcher’s arsenal.

Throwing the Forkball Pitch Effectively

MLB Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Morris’s Forkball Pitch

One of the most notable pitchers who used the forkball pitch in the 80s and 90s was MLB Hall of Fame pitcher Jack Morris. Morris had a long and celebrated career, playing in 254 games and winning four World Series championships.

The forkball pitch was one of his signature pitches, which he used to great effect throughout his career. Morris’s grip on the forkball pitch was slightly different from the standard grip.

He placed his index finger on the side of the ball, using his middle finger as a guide. This gave him an extra level of control that allowed him to fool hitters with his delivery.

Morris’s delivery was also unique, with a long stride and slight lean, causing batters to hesitate when trying to anticipate the delivery of the pitch.

When to throw a Forkball Pitch

The forkball pitch is an effective off-speed pitch that can be used to keep batters guessing. Pitchers should use the forkball pitch in situations where an off-speed pitch is needed to fool the hitter.

This pitch should be used in place of fastballs higher in the strike zone to make batters miss. The key to using the forkball pitch effectively is to change the speed of the pitch, making it unpredictable for the batter.

Switching between a fastball and a forkball pitch is an excellent way to keep hitters off-balance as they will struggle to anticipate the type of pitch the pitcher is going to throw. How does a Forkball Pitch move?

The forkball pitch is one of the most challenging pitches to hit because of its extreme drop. The ball moves like a fastball as it comes out of the pitcher’s hand, but then drops quickly, making it challenging for the hitter to make solid contact.

This movement is achieved through the pitch spin. As the pitcher throws the ball with a backspin, the air flows over the top of the ball, creating an area of low pressure on top.

This low-pressure area holds the ball up until gravity takes over and it falls quickly towards the ground, making it hard for the hitter to make solid contact.

Difficulty of Hitting a Forkball Pitch and

Additional Tips

Why is a Forkball Pitch hard to hit? The forkball pitch is challenging to hit because of its severe drop.

The fastball is one of the easiest pitches to hit because it offers no variation in speed or movement. Forkball pitches and other off-speed pitches are effective because they give the pitcher a chance to change speeds and movement, making it challenging for batters to anticipate the type of pitch that is coming their way.

A forkball pitch is particularly effective because it has more drop than any other pitch, making it hard to hit. The pitch has an extreme drop that can cause batters to miss or hit the ball weakly, leading to easy outs.

Additional Tips

The forkball pitch puts a significant strain on the wrist, forearm, and elbow. Young pitchers should be careful not to throw too many forkball pitches and should consult with their coaches and trainers to ensure they are using proper technique and avoiding any strains or inflammation in their tendons.

Adult pitchers can still use the forkball pitch effectively, but they must be cautious about how often they throw it and ensure they are using proper form to avoid any strain or damage to their tendons. Compilation of Japanese professional pitcher Minoru Iwata’s Forkball Pitch

Japanese professional pitcher Minoru Iwata is known for his use of the forkball pitch.

Iwata’s forkball pitch is particularly effective because he uses it in combination with his other pitches, leading to pitch confusion by the hitter. Iwata’s delivery of the forkball pitch is similar to Morris’s, with a slight lean and a long stride.

His grip on the forkball pitch is traditional, using the index and middle fingers to create the “fork in the road” grip. Iwata often uses the forkball pitch to set up his other pitches, throwing it early in the count to keep the hitter off-balance, and then using his other pitches to make the hitter miss.

The combination of a fastball and a forkball pitch makes it incredibly challenging for the hitter to anticipate what pitch is coming next.


The forkball pitch is an effective weapon in a pitcher’s arsenal, but using it effectively requires skill and practice. The key to throwing a successful forkball pitch is mastering the grip, delivery, and movement to create the desired effect.

It is also essential to use the pitch in the right situations and in combination with other pitches to keep the hitter off-balance and confused.

FAQ on Forkball Pitching

Who Invented the Forkball Pitch? Although there is no clear record of the origin of the forkball pitch, many attribute its invention to “Bullet” Joe Bush, a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.

Bush was one of the earliest pitchers to use the forkball pitch in games, and his success popularized the pitch throughout the league. Another pitcher that helped to make the forkball pitch more widespread was Elroy Face, who also played for the Pirates and popularized the pitch in the 1950s and 60s.

Who Had the Most Famous Forkball Pitch? One of the most famous forkball pitch pitchers of all time was Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry.

He was a true legend of the game and a dominant pitcher of his era, known for his ability to throw multiple off-speed pitches, including his forkball. Perry won two Cy Young awards during his career and was selected to the 1974 MLB All-Star game.

During that game, he famously struck out both Pete Rose and Johnny Bench with his forkball pitch, cementing his status as a dominant pitcher in the league. What is the Difference Between a Forkball and a Splitter?

The forkball and splitter are similar pitches in many ways, but they differ in terms of finger placement, snap of the wrist, and spin. Both pitches require the pitcher to grip the ball with the index and middle fingers spread apart, but the forkball grip is wider.

The forkball pitch requires the pitcher to snap their wrist downwards during the release, while the splitter requires a more vertical snap of the wrist. The spin of the forkball is also more backspin, and the pitch drops more dramatically than a splitter.

In contrast, the splitter tends to have a flatter drop and less dramatic movement. The finger placement is also slightly different, with the splitter having a slightly closer finger spread.

Who Threw the Fastest Forkball Pitch? The fastest forkball pitch ever recorded in the Major Leagues was thrown by Dave Stewart.

Known as “Smoke”, Stewart was a former pitcher for the Oakland Athletics and the Toronto Blue Jays. Stewart famously fooled many hitters with his forkball pitch using his fastball-style delivery.

He was recorded throwing a pitch that registered at 94 miles per hour on the MLB pitch radar system during the 1989 season.


The forkball pitch is one of the most intriguing pitches in baseball and has been used by many successful pitchers throughout history. Its unique grip, delivery, and movement make it an effective weapon in a pitcher’s arsenal.

By understanding its origins, the different ways in which it has been used, and its variations, pitchers can better utilize this pitch to keep hitters off-balance. In summary, the article explored the forkball pitch, including its definition, history, and techniques used to throw it effectively.

We discussed notable pitchers like Gaylord Perry and Jack Morris who perfected the forkball pitch. The article answered frequently asked questions on the splitter pitch, the difference between it and the forkball, and who threw the fastest forkball pitch.

Takeaways include the importance of creating pitch confusion for batters, requiring patience and practice to execute correctly, and understanding proper technique to avoid potential injury. In conclusion, mastering the forkball pitch requires a combination of skill, technique, and practice, as it is a valuable asset for any pitcher’s arsenal.


-Who invented the forkball pitch? -Who had the most famous forkball pitch?

-What is the difference between a forkball and a splitter? -Who threw the fastest forkball pitch?

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