Back in the 1960's there was a 5'11, 170 pound southpaw named Steve Dalkowski. Nicknamed "White Lightning" for his ability to throw a baseball, he spent his whole career in the minor leagues, many former Major League players said that he threw a baseball harder than anyone who ever lived. Dalkowski's fastball was believed to hit 110 mph!
He never made it out of the minors because his control was so terrible. Along with many strikeouts came just as many walks but still is a legend in the Minors. Here are a few of Steve's accomplishments and some comments from baseball players and experts.
In a high school game, Dalkowski threw a no-hit, no-run game with 18 strikeouts and 18 walks.
In 1960 at Stockton on the California League, Dalkowski struck out 19 and limited Reno to four hits but walked nine and lost 8-3.
At Aberdeen in the Northern League, Dalkowski threw a one-hitter and lost 9-8.
In an Eastern League game, Dalkowski struck out 27 and walked 16 while throwing 283 pitches. In another game, he was pulled in the second inning after throwing 120 pitches.
One night at Kingsport, Dalkowski threw a pitch that tore off part of a batter's ear. "It made me so scared, I didn't even want to look at it," said Dalkowski.
In one minor league game, Dalkowski threw three pitches that penetrated the backstop and sent fans scattering.
"He was unbelievable, he threw a lot faster than Nolan Ryan. It's hard to believe but he did." Former Orioles manager Earl Weaver
"Fastest ever, I never want to face him again." - Ted Williams
Dalkowski really is an amazing story. One year he was expected to get called up by the Orioles but in a start leading up to his debut, on a throw to first, he heard something pop in his arm. After recovering, his fastball never got above 90 mph. He also has a character, Nuke, from Bull Durham that is based off of him. Dalkowski also used to drink a lot. Teammates said that he would borrow money for booze and was constantly broke. Because of his drinking, as of 1992 Steve was placed in a Health Center in Connecticut and has lived there ever since. It's terrible to see that this happened to him and I can only think of "What would have been" for this guy. Imagine a major league throw 110 mph? Everybody would want to watch him pitch.