Chris Nowlin to Join Cleburne Railroaders; PLUS: Throwing the Power Knuckleball

Program Director Chris Nowlin training with Hall of Famer Phil Niekro

Program Director Chris Nowlin training with Hall of Famer Phil Niekro

IKA’s own Chris Nowlin has some good news. Posting on April 18, he announced:

I’ve just finalized my contract for the 2018 season with the Cleburne Railroaders in the American Association. Cleburne is a suburb of Fort Worth and is in the southwest portion of the Greater Dallas Area. And it’s a great fit for the knuckleball. The weather is always hot and humid, there’s always wind at The Depot and the entire stadium is turf (minus the pitching mound). That means the pitch always has thick air for a good break and the ball won’t ever get wet or muddy for a good grip.

Chris is not yet on the CR roster. For legal reasons, he’ll be physically signing his contract “when I arrive in the ballpark in early May so that the contract is solely in the jurisdiction of Texas.”

Congratulations, Chris!

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Fans of Phil Niekro knuckleball metaphors and nerve-wracking national politics will appreciate an April 12 post at The Rio Norte Line blog. (The allusion is to Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged, in which the rebuilding of a railway line called the Rio Norte plays a major part in the story.)

But this [political] playpen ain’t your normal playpen—this is the Octagon with Conor McGregor on one side and Tito Ortiz on the other…. There is more movement in our day-to-day lives than in a Phil Niekro knuckleball. The junk thrown at us out of DC right now is unhittable….

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Brian Wilson with and without beardBrian Wilson (now beardless; “I was like, ‘Holy crap! That’s my face!’ ”) has been off the radar since being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014. This April, though, he showed up as a guest of his old team the San Francisco Giants at A&T Park in San Francisco. Wilson threw the ceremonial first pitch of the home opener.

In 2017 we’d heard that Wilson would be trying to return to the MLB as a knuckleball pitcher. He says it’s still a possibility. “The knuckleball is in the back pocket, pal. And I haven’t retired for a reason. That’s always available. You laugh, but the thing dances.” On the other hand, he also says: “I don’t think I was meant to play for 20 years. I think I was meant to play for a couple of years and enjoy the rest of my life.” Ergo, we have no idea what’s going to happen next.

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Candiotti A Life of KnuckleballsTom Candiotti biographer K.P. Wee points us to a “Vintage Tom Candiotti interview from 1988.” “Candiotti, then with the Indians, discuses his pitching style the day following a 3-1 win over the Brewers on May 10, 1988.”

“I could start throwing a power knuckleball,” says Candiotti in the YouTube clip, “and when I’ve been able to throw my power knuckleball, I get a lot of easy ground balls and popups and strikeouts.”

The lesson is clear. Throw the power knuckleball.

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