J. D. Thorne, speaker and author of the new book Baseball’s Winning Ways (Available on Amazon Books).
Buhl was a weak-hitting shortstop with a good arm who was converted by scouts and coaches to a pitcher, which they thought was his better shot to the big leagues. They were right. Bob Buhl became the number three starter for the Milwaukee Braves behind Lew Burdette and Hall of Famer Warren Spahn. Early in his 10th season for the Braves, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs. In Chicago, for four seasons he pitched in the middle of the starting rotation for the Cubs, too. His premier “out-pitch” was what he called a “slider.” Some today might have called it a “cut fastball?” He threw it with what is called a “short arm,” somewhat like the ball thrown by a football quarterback. He kept a stiff wrist through the delivery to put a slight spin on the ball that would make it look like a fast ball, but break sharp, short, and late as opposed to tailing away. Hitters might be surprised, and end up swinging late “chopping” at it and hitting ground balls to the third baseman and shortstop if a right handed hitter. Good pitch.
I listened to Buhl in a post-game interview once. The Cubs “10th Inning” Broadcaster Jack Brickhouse asked Buhl, “How do you throw your slider?” I was all ears as a 15-year-old “Colt League” #3 pitcher. Later that season I pitched a no-hit game. My father saved the game ball.
Last weekend, amidst a game of catch in the back yard with my 16 year old grand-nephew Charlie Thorne’s home in Naperville, he was interested when I showed him how I threw the pitch. I think he got it. I told him he looks to me like the next Walter Johnson. I may have to explain that complement a little more?