The Physics
Factbook
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Speed of the Fastest Pitched Baseball

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
The Pitching Repertoire. Encyclopedia Britannica. "Some pitchers have been capable of throwing the ball 100 miles per hour." 45 m/s
Schulman, Henry. The 100-mph fastball - The Pitcher. Speed in Sports. Sporting News, 1998. "RHP [Right Hand Pitcher], Matt Anderson, Detroit, 103 mph." 46.0 m/s
"Baseball." The World Book Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. New York: Field Enterprises, 1962. "A major-league pitcher's fast ball usually travels at speeds of more than 50 miles per hour." > 22 m/s
Aylesworth, Thomas. The Kids' World Almanac of Baseball. New York: Pharos Books, 1993. "September 7, 1974 — One of Angels pitcher Nolan Ryan's pitches was officially clocked at 100.8 miles per hour in a game against the White Sox. He became the first player to break the 100-mph barrier." 45.05 m/s

Baseball is the national sport of the United States. No one knows quite how it began. It is believed that it may have come from a similar English game called rounders. In 1845 Alexander Cartwright set up the Knickerbocker Baseball Club of New York. The rules as he laid them out established a game of nine innings, with teams of nine players each. The baseball diamond would have four bases 90 feet (27.4 m) apart.

When the pitcher throws a ball, he knows that eventually it is going to hit the ground. In order for the ball to go further, he is going to have to keep it in the air longer, before gravity forces it to earth. The way to keep it in the air longer, is to increase the angle of his throw. As soon as the ball leaves the pitchers hand, gravity begins pulling it downward. Even the fastest pitcher's smoke ball may drop as much as 2 feet (60 cm) by the time it reaches the catcher. That is why there is such a thing as a pitchers mound. The pitchers mound is 10 inches (25 cm) above the level of home plate, with a degree of slope from a point 6 inches (15 cm) in front of the pitchers mound to a point 6 feet (2 m) toward home plate. Even with the mound, the pitcher must always aim a little higher than the point where he wants the ball to go. The pitcher knows that the ball will reach a point where its upward velocity will be zero and the ball will start to drop.

The speed of a baseball is measured using a "Radar Gun". Today, in the late 1990s pitchers can throw over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h or 45 m/s). Matt Anderson, has thrown the fastest pitched baseball which measured 103 miles per hour (166 km/h or 46.0 m/s). This time was measured in the past 1999 baseball season.

Pitching is a very important technique in the game of baseball. Without a pitcher, it would be impossible for a baseball game to take place. Winning is the single most important job in the game because you can hit all the home runs you want, but if you don't have a good pitcher then you will give up as many runs as you score. The winning or losing of a game, is always decided by pitching, one way or another!

Lori Grabel -- 2000

Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
Salisbury, Jim. On Baseball | It's all coming up aces. Philadelphia Inquirer. 23 July 2006. "Zumaya, 21, was an 11th round draft pick in 2002. He had only 44 innings of experience above double A when he jumped to the majors this season. Owner of a fastball that has been clocked at 104 mph this season, he entered yesterday 5-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 39 games." 46.5 m/s

Editor's Supplement -- 2006