Speed was these pitchers’ primary weapon, but breaking balls were just as effective. Loewen, who specialized in a figure-8 windup, had a rise ball that would bait hitters into swinging just before it elevated several inches by the time it reached the plate. Then just for kicks he’d throw a slow change-up and catch the batter swinging early.
Hitting a fast-pitch softball isn’t as easy as it looks. This team scorekeeper was on that field exactly once as a player for an exhibition game. The other pitcher was a curveballer named Bob Solomon. The first pitch looked as if it were heading right for my legs, and I bailed out only to watch the ball break over the plate for a called strike.
The most competitive game I recall was a 1952 city tournament matchup between Emge’s Ernie Ross and Park Place’s Chuck Humes. It went 11 innings, with Park Place winning 1-0.
Anderson has had outstanding traveling teams since that time. But nothing matched the competitiveness shown night in and night out at Shadyside in days of yore.
Jim Bailey’s reflections on Anderson’s past appear on Sunday. His regular column appears on Thursday. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.