1990 volume 19(4) pages 545 – 552

Cite as:
McBeath M K, 1990, "The rising fastball: baseball's impossible pitch" Perception 19(4) 545 – 552

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The rising fastball: baseball's impossible pitch

Michael K McBeath

Received 30 October 1989, in revised form 5 March 1990

Abstract. Batters in professional baseball are confronted with pitches that appear to curve, dip, wobble, or rise. The rising fastball is a pitch where the ball appears to hop up as much as a third of a meter with a sudden increase in speed. Physics experiments confirm that many reported trajectories are possible, but not the rising fastball. The present paper shows how the apparent rise may be explained as a perceptual illusion due to the hitter underestimating original speed of the pitch.

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