He was asked:
"Does he throw a curveball? A slider? Or a sinker?"
and shook his head. "Good questions! Don't ask me."
"Does it make
little pft, pft-boom!"
been in direct charge of Finch's pitching regimen. His own playing career ended
in the spring of 1975 with a rotator-cuff injury, which makes him especially
sensitive to the strain that a pitching motion can put on the arm. Although as
close-lipped as the rest of the staff, Stottlemyre does admit that Finch has
developed a completely revolutionary pitching style. He told SI: "I don't
understand the mechanics of it. Anyone who tries to throw the ball that way
should fall flat on his back. But I've seen it. I've seen it a hundred times.
It's the most awesome thing that has ever happened in baseball."
influences might have contributed to Finch's style and speed, Stottlemyre said,
"Well, cricket may have something to do with it. Finch has taken the power
and speed of the running throw of the cricket bowler and has somehow harnessed
all that energy to the pitching rubber. The wrist snap off that stiff arm is
incredible. I haven't talked to him but once or twice. I asked him if he ever
thought of snapping the arm, like baseball pitchers, rather than the wrist: It
would increase the velocity.
very polite, you know, with a little bob of the head: 'I undertake as a rule of
training to refrain from injury to living things.'
of course. It's Ronn Reynolds I feel sorry for. Every time that ball comes in,
first you hear this smack sound of the ball driving into the pocket of the
mitt, and then you hear this little gasp, this ai yee!—the catcher, poor guy,
his whole body shakin' like an angina's hit it. It's the most piteous thing
I've ever heard, short of a trapped rabbit."
Finch arrived in St. Petersburg on Feb. 7. Most of the rookies and
minor-leaguers stay at the Edgewater Beach Inn. Assuming that Finch would check
in with the rest of the early arrivals, the Mets were surprised when he
telephoned and announced that he had leased a room in a small boarding-house
just off Florida Avenue near a body of water on the bay side called Big Bayou.
Because his private pitching compound had been constructed across the city and
Finch does not drive, the Mets assigned him a driver, a young Tampa Bay
resident, Eliot Posner, who picks him up in the morning and returns him to
Florida Avenue or, more often, to a beach on the Gulf where, Posner reports,
Finch, still in his baseball outfit and carrying his decrepit glove, walks down
to the water's edge and, motionless, stares out at the windsurfers. Inevitably,
he dismisses Posner and gets back to his boardinghouse on his own.
management has found out very little about his life in St. Petersburg. Mrs. Roy
Butterfield, his landlady, reports (as one might expect) that "he lives
very simply. Sometimes he comes in the front door, sometimes the back.
Sometimes I'm not even sure he spends the night. I think he sleeps on the
floor—his bed is always neat as a pin. He has his own rug, a small little
thing. I never have had a boarder who brought his own rug. He has a soup bowl.
Not much, is what I say. Of course, he plays the French horn. He plays it very
beautifully and, thank goodness, softly. The notes fill the house. Sometimes I
think the notes are coming out of my television set."