Clayton Kershaw and a brief history of the blooper pitch

So Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw did this in the middle of a rather mediocre start for him (he gave up 10 hits for only the fifth time in his career, although still gave up only one run in eight innings):

He explained what happened with the pitch to Tyler Flowers after the game:

"A lot going on in the old skull on that one. Tyler was taking a little bit of time so I was going to quick pitch him. I got what I wanted. He wasn't ready and [umpire] Angel [Hernandez] didn't call time. But then he got ready really quickly. Then [catcher] A.J. [Ellis] called a different pitch. I was just going to throw a fastball, but I didn't want to cross up A.J. if [Flowers] took it. And I didn't want to throw a fastball so I was like, 'OK, he won,' so I just lobbed it up there."

Kershaw ended up striking out Flowers but didn't bring back the blooper pitch.

OK, let's have some fun here. To my knowledge, the only pitcher to throw the blooper as a regular part of his arsenal was Rip Sewell, a three-time All-Star for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 1940s. Sewell came up in 1932 as a conventional sinker/slider guy but apparently got hurt in a 1941 hunting accident, which forced him to throw straight overhand. That's when he developed the "eephus" pitch. (Later in life, he would have both legs amputated as a result of circulation problems from the hunting accident.)

The invaluable "Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers" cites an article from Baseball Magazine in 1943 that describes the pitch like this: "It is a tantalizing slow ball that describes an arc on the way to the plate. It may rise twenty feet in the air and descends over the pan on a slant. The catcher will grab it only a foot or so off the ground. Rip has no name for this delivery of his, but his teammates have dubbed it 'Skyscraper,' 'Dodo' and 'Dewdrop.'"

It's too bad "Dewdrop" didn't win out. Clayton Kershaw surprised everyone when he threw a Dewdrop today to Tyler Flowers.

Anyway, teammate Maurice Van Robays eventually gave it the eephus moniker that stuck. Neyer and James speculated that as Sewell mastered the pitch, he probably threw it even higher than 20 feet. But it was definitely a pitch he used on a regular basis. When he died in 1989, the New York Times obituary headlined, "Rip Sewell, 'Eephus Ball' Pitcher For Pittsburgh Pirates, Dies at 82."

In the 1946 All-Star Game at Fenway Park, Ted Williams allegedly challenged Sewell before the game. "Hey, Rip" Williams yelled. "You wouldn't throw that damn crazy pitch in a game like this, would you?"

"Sure, I'm gonna throw it to you," Rip replied, according to Ben Bradlee Jr.'s "The Kid."

He did. The count was 2-1 after two bloopers and a fastball. Williams then did this:

Sewell would claim it was the only home run hit off the eephus pitch in 10 years.

In the late 1970s, reliever Dave LaRoche -- father of Adam, grandfather of Drake -- started throwing a pitch he called LaLob. Here is striking out Gorman Thomas in 1981:

When he was with the Yankees, Orlando Hernandez also started throwing a very slow changeup. His blooper wasn't as high as Sewell's or LaRoche's and he didn't fool Alex Rodriguez on this one:

Every now and then you'll see a slow changeup, like the one below from Henderson Alvarez, but I wouldn't call that a true eephus pitch:

The most ill-advised blooper pitch? In Game 7 of the 1975 World Series, the Red Sox led the Reds 3-0 in the sixth inning. Bill Lee threw a blooper and Tony Perez hit a two-run homer, turning the game's momentum as the Reds rallied to win 4-3:

For more on the blooper/eephus pitch, Paul Jackson wrote a history of it for Page 2 back in 2008.