- Last Updated: 1:50 AM, June 24, 2012
- Posted: 1:50 AM, June 24, 2012
R.A. Dickey’s meteoric rise this spring hasn’t just lifted the Mets into playoff contention. It is starting to open the eyes of local baseball coaches at all levels of the possibilities the knuckleball offers.
“He has modeled something so unique,” said Walter Paller, a coach at Brooklyn private school Berkeley Carroll and top summer program the New York Dynasty.
Paller is in the process of attempting to teach himself the pitch with the hopes of training his pitchers. He feels, like Dickey, it could elevate pitchers who may lack the stuff to normally get out hitters.
“It’s a good way to change where you stand on the totem pole,” Paller said.
Few locals are actually knuckleball pitchers. More Catholic’s John Baggs successfully used it as an out pitch and Curtis right-hander Michael Piccirillo went to the knuckleball primarily and shutout CHSAA powerhouse Xaveran in the Monroe Tournament.
“I may have to find one for next year,” Holy Cross coach Steve Adams joked.
Piccirillo is planning to walk-on at Wesley College, but as a catcher. He taught the knuckleball to Joe Curatolo, an ace on Curtis last year, but he wasn’t allowed to use it in his freshman year at Piedmont College, Piccirillo said. Adams had two players capable of throwing the pitch inconsistently, but Adams has yet to call it in a game. He won’t rule it out, however, for the future.
“Kids are going to try and emulate him and throw it more,” Adams said. “It might become of an acceptable practice because he’s been so successful, in local and travel leagues.”
Pat Piteo, the director of Queens Little League RGMVM, sees the benefits for young kids to throw it, because it places less stress on the arm and would serve as a viable off-speed pitch.
“It’s better to teach that to kids than throwing a curveball,” he said.
That’s how 12-year-old Douglass Edert of Nutley, N.J. uses it, his dad Bill Edert said. Douglass goes to the pitch against better competition, when he can’t throw his fastball past opposing hitters.
“That’s his changeup,” Bill Edert said.
Finding someone qualified to teach the pitch is, of course, difficult, Moore Catholic coach Nick Dosher said.
“I was a pitcher my whole life and I have no idea how to throw it,” he said.
All the coaches agree they wouldn’t have a problem with one of their pitchers using the pitch if they did so consistently and had control of it. That means scrapping their other pitches.
“You have to marry it, you can’t just date it,” Paller said. “You really have to buy into it.”Follow @NYPostsports