At Tail End of 14-5 Rout, Red Sox Left Fielder Tries Knuckleball; PLUS: Knuckleball Stars in Dickey Children’s Book

A longtime reader of IKA News alerted us to a possible knuckleballer in the making, Mike Carp of the Boston Red Sox.

Knuckleball NedBut our hopes seemed quickly dashed when Ezra Wise observed that “this is another case of a position play screwing around while coming in to mop up in a blowout.” Enlisted for pitching duty in the ninth, when the game had already been thoroughly lost, Carp by all accounts wasn’t too intimate with the strike zone. He pitched both knuckleballs and fastballs, more of the former than the latter, to walk five players.

Here’s Red Sox Insider Sean McAdam:

[I] t’s never a good sign when a team resorts to using a position player on the mound, and it surely was not a good night for the Red Sox, who were pounded by the New York Yankees, 14-5….

[Carp] had an eventful major league debut, walking five, including one with the bases loaded to force in New York’s final run, but also getting a double play and not allowing a hit.

“It’s kind of every little kid’s dream,” said Carp of the bittersweet nature of the appearance. “But at the same time, tough ballgame to have to go into. But it was good to save our bullpen….

“I always threw a knuckleball, but never on the mound…. That was the first time ever on a mound.”

The knuckleball gets attention. In one typical headline, Hardball Talk talked hard about how “Red Sox first basemen/outfielder Mike Carp became a knuckleballer last night.” That even fooling around with the knuckleball on an MLB mound is newsworthy points up the uniqueness and difficulty of the pitch. We didn’t see any headline about how position player Carp, pitching in the MLB for the first time ever, tried out his fastball.

So is this definitely a one-shot (or one-pitch) deal? Here in knuckleball-land, we’ve learned that there’s one word you can never say when it comes to knuckleballs and careers: never. It’s hard to control the knuckleball, but that control can be improved.

The knuckleball will get even more attention, from young ones (including a few future knuckleballers?), thanks to a new children’s book written by R.A. Dickey and Michael Karounos, Knuckleball Ned. The illustrator is Tim Bowers, and it was Bowers’s announcement that brought the book to our attention.

The first printed samples of Knuckleball Ned crossed home plate, this week. Knuckleball Ned by R.A. Dickey will take the mound in local bookstores next month, and I’m excited….

I tried to create artwork that was looser than my other books, a bit more splashy, with brighter color and loads of fun.

According to the School Library Journal, “The clear, lively writing and nice pacing make this a good addition to the canon of antibullying books that make their point without being message driven. Bowers adds to the fun…his cartoon acrylic paint illustrations effectively capture Ned’s wobbliness and make the pages come alive with motion.”

The description at Amazon:

Ned the baseball is very nervous on his first day of school. Everyone else seems to know where they belong, but not Ned. He isn’t a fastball or a slider, and the Foul Ball gang makes fun of him for the way he wobbles. When they do something particularly dastardly to another student, it’s up to Ned to come to the rescue with his unique abilities. Not only does Ned realize he’s a knuckleball, but he discovers that he can be a hero, too!

The book is available for pre-orders and will be officially published May 1.

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