I was lucky enough to join Ed Randall and Kevin Kennedy on January 22nd, 2022, for a 20-minute interview about the future of the knuckleball in the Major Leagues.
Now, Kevin Kennedy was a longtime Major League catcher, MLB executive and Major League manager. He even managed Tim Wakefield in Boston during this breakout 1995 season. Oddly enough, that’s the very year that I fell in love with the knuckleball. And it all happened at Fenway Park less than 100 feet where Kevin Kennedy was standing.
My father had season tickets to the Red Sox as an executive for his company. He took us to a handful of games per year when his clients were unable to use the tickets, and he even had a secret free parking spot on the BU campus that got us within walking distance of the legendary park.
Well, one summer night, my father found me playing wiffleball in the neighborhood, and he told my friend and me to jump into the car. We had Sox tickets.
That night, my father finally trusted me to wander the park on my own. So, my buddy and I went out to the bleachers to beg Mo Vaughn to hit us a homerun. When that didn’t happen, we endeavored to get as close to the field as possible. So we ended up getting kicked out of Steven King’s seats along the first baseline. That forced us to trickle down right behind the backstop.
Tim Wakefield was making one of his epic early starts for the Red Sox that night. He carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Oakland A’s. And with the muggy air fading the Green Monster high into the night below the glowing Citgo Sign as the backdrop, that’s when I saw it. That’s when I had the most impressionable experience of my young life.
With the umpire out of the way in between innings, I could see “Rawlings” written on the ball as it bobbed and weaved its way to the plate only to plop down into the catcher’s lap. Pitch after pitch, it floated and darted only to land safely in between the catcher’s legs.
I was mesmerized. I was in love. And I had to learn how to throw the thing.
All these years later, I’ve found myself in professional baseball with Charlie Hough, Phil Niekro and RA Dickey as mentors. And I hope to share our secrets and wisdom with you through Knuckleball Nation.