Who Threw the First 100 MPH Pitch?

John Means

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Threw the First 100 MPH Pitch

The quest to identify who was the first pitcher to throw 100 mph in baseball history weaves a narrative of raw athleticism, technological evolution, and enduring fascination.

Legends like Walter Johnson and Bob Feller, their exploits dating back to the early 20th century, set the stage for the monumental achievement.

The elusive nature of this milestone is compounded by varying measurement methods and equipment reliability.

Nolan Ryan, with his record-setting fastball in 1974, officially etched his name in history. 

Yet, debates persist, underscoring the captivating blend of skill and speed that has defined the pursuit of throwing the first 100 mph pitch in America’s beloved pastime.

Who Threw the First 100 Mph Pitch? -First MLB Pitcher to Throw Over 100 Mph

The quest to identify the first pitcher to throw a 100 mph pitch in baseball history is steeped in uncertainty and speculation.

Walter Johnson and Bob Feller, early contenders, set the stage for a remarkable milestone that would later be officially achieved by Nolan Ryan.

This exploration delves into the stories of these legendary pitchers and the challenges of documenting such a historic moment.

Walter Johnson: “The Big Train”

Walter Johnson, a dominant force with the Washington Senators from 1907 to 1927, earned the moniker “The Big Train” for his powerful and consistent delivery. 

Despite anecdotes suggesting he outpaced a motorcycle with a throw, concrete evidence of Johnson reaching the coveted 100 mph mark remains elusive. 

Johnson’s era lacked the advanced measurement technology that later defined the assessment of pitching speed, leaving his legacy as a formidable hurler somewhat shrouded in mystery.

Bob Feller: “Rapid Robert”

Bob Feller, a flame-throwing pitcher for the Cleveland Indians from 1936 to 1956, was nicknamed “Rapid Robert” for his blazing fastball.

In 1946, an Army device designed to measure artillery shell speed clocked one of Feller’s pitches at 98.6 mph.

However, speculation lingers about whether Feller might have achieved even greater speeds earlier in his career, during a time when the measurement technology was still in its infancy.

Feller’s contribution to the evolution of pitch speed measurement adds an intriguing layer to the historical narrative.

Nolan Ryan: “The Ryan Express”

Nolan Ryan, a living legend in the world of baseball, officially became the first pitcher to reach the 100 mph threshold on a radar gun. 

Spanning multiple teams from 1966 to 1993, Ryan’s pitch against the Chicago White Sox on September 7, 1974, registered at 100.9 mph, marking an unprecedented moment in the history of the sport. 

Ryan’s achievement set a new standard and paved the way for future generations of flamethrowers on the mound.

The 100 MPH Club

Following Nolan Ryan’s groundbreaking achievement, a new era emerged with pitchers like Aroldis Chapman, Justin Verlander, and Jacob deGrom joining the exclusive 100 mph club.

Chapman, in particular, etched his name in history by throwing a pitch that reached an astonishing 106 mph in 2010.

The evolution of this elite group showcases the ongoing pursuit of speed and power in the realm of pitching.

Debates and Challenges

Debates persist over the accuracy and reliability of different measurement methods and devices. 

Technological advancements, changes in measurement standards, and environmental factors contribute to the complexity of determining historical pitching speeds.

The evolving nature of measurement tools raises questions about the comparability of speeds across different eras, adding a layer of nuance to the discussions surrounding this remarkable feat.

Fastest Baseball Pitch -Fastest Pitch Ever

Fastest Baseball Pitch -Fastest Pitch Ever

According to the Guinness World Records, the fastest baseball pitch ever thrown is 105.8 mph (170.2686 km/h) and was thrown by Aroldis Chapman (Cuba) for the Cincinnati Reds in a game against the San Diego Padres, at PETCO Park, San Diego, California, USA, on 24 September 2010.

The speed was measured by Statcast, which began recording velocities in 2008.

However, some experts have argued that other pitchers in the past may have thrown faster pitches, but they were not measured by reliable or consistent methods.

For example, Bob Feller, who played for the Cleveland Indians from 1936 to 1956, had his pitch speed estimated by using a stopwatch and a motorcycle in 1940. 

His pitch was calculated to be 104 mph, but some adjustments suggest it could have been as high as 107.6 mph.

Similarly, Nolan Ryan, who played for several teams from 1966 to 1993, was the first pitcher to have his speed measured by a radar gun during a game in 1974. 

He threw a pitch that registered 100.9 mph, but some claim that the radar gun was not accurate or calibrated.

Therefore, it is hard to say with certainty who threw the fastest baseball pitch ever, as different methods of measurement may yield different results.

However, one thing is clear: throwing a pitch faster than 100 mph is a rare and remarkable feat that requires a combination of talent, skill, and physical strength. It is a feat that deserves respect and admiration from fans and players alike.

How Fast Did Satchel Paige Throw?

How Fast Did Satchel Paige Throw?

Satchel Paige was one of the most legendary pitchers in baseball history, who played in both the Negro leagues and the Major League Baseball.

He was known for his incredible fastball, which was estimated to be as fast as 107.6 mph by some sources.

However, the exact speed of his fastball is hard to determine, as different methods of measurement were used at different times.

One of the earliest attempts to measure his fastball was in 1940 when he threw a pitch that outpaced a moving motorcycle, which some experts calculated to be equivalent to 97 mph or more.

However, this method was not very accurate or reliable, as it depended on the speed and distance of the motorcycle.

Another attempt to measure his fastball was in 1946 when he threw a pitch that was clocked at 98.6 mph by an Army device that measured the speed of artillery shells.

This was the fastest throw ever recorded by Satchel Paige, but some speculated that he might have thrown faster earlier in his career when the technology was less reliable.

The first time that his fastball was measured by a radar gun was in 1952 when he was 46 years old and playing for the St. Louis Browns. 

He threw a pitch that registered 91 mph, which was still impressive for his age. However, some claim that the radar gun was not accurate or calibrated and that his fastball was actually faster.

Therefore, it is hard to say with certainty how fast Satchel Paige threw a baseball, as different methods of measurement may yield different results.

However, one thing is clear: he was one of the fastest and most dominant pitchers of all time, who inspired generations of fans and players with his skill and charisma.

Mark Fidrych Stats

Mark Fidrych was a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers from 1976 to 1980. He had a remarkable rookie season in 1976 when he led the American League in ERA (2.34), complete games (24), and shutouts (9). 

He also won 19 games, struck out 97 batters, and had a WHIP of 1.08. He was named the Rookie of the Year, the AL TSN Pitcher of the Year, and an All-Star. He also finished second in the Cy Young Award voting and 11th in the MVP voting.

Unfortunately, Fidrych’s career was cut short by injuries. He suffered a torn rotator cuff in 1977, which was not properly diagnosed until 1985. 

He tried to make several comebacks, but he never regained his form. He retired in 1983, after pitching only 58 games in five seasons. He had a career record of 29-19, with an ERA of 3.10 and 170 strikeouts.

Fidrych was also known for his eccentric and charismatic personality. He was nicknamed “The Bird” because of his resemblance to the Sesame Street character Big Bird. 

He would talk to the ball, groom the mound, and congratulate his teammates after every out. He drew large crowds wherever he pitched, and he was one of the most popular players of his era. 

He died in 2009, at the age of 54, in a farming accident. He was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.


Who is credited with throwing the first 100 mph pitch in baseball history?

The definitive identification of the first pitcher to achieve this milestone remains elusive, with early contenders including Walter Johnson and Bob Feller. 

Nolan Ryan is officially recognized as the first to reach 100 mph on a radar gun.

Did Walter Johnson or Bob Feller ever throw a documented 100 mph pitch?

While anecdotes suggest Walter Johnson and Bob Feller had formidable fastballs, there is no definitive proof of them reaching 100 mph. 

Technological limitations of their era contribute to the uncertainty.

When did Nolan Ryan throw the first officially recorded 100 mph pitch?

Nolan Ryan achieved this historic feat on September 7, 1974, during a game against the Chicago White Sox, registering a pitch at 100.9 mph.

Who holds the record for the fastest pitch ever thrown in a game?

Aroldis Chapman holds the record for the fastest pitch in a game, reaching an astonishing 105.1 mph on July 19, 2016, while playing for the New York Yankees.

Why is there debate over the first 100 mph pitch, and who holds the title is uncertain?

The debate stems from the lack of standardized measurement methods in baseball’s early years and variations in technology over time.

To Recap

In the pursuit of unraveling the mystery of who threw the first 100 mph pitch in baseball, the narrative weaves through the exploits of legends like Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, and ultimately, Nolan Ryan. 

The uncertainty, fueled by evolving measurement methods and technological advancements, adds layers to the historical tapestry. 

While Ryan’s 1974 record is officially documented, the debate endures, emphasizing the intrinsic challenges of defining a singular pioneer. 

Yet, beyond the quest for precision, the awe-inspiring combination of talent, skill, and sheer velocity remains a testament to the enduring allure of baseball and the relentless pursuit of pushing the boundaries of the sport’s physical limits.

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John Means

John Means is a professional baseball player who has played in the major leagues for the Kansas City Royals and the Oakland Athletics. He made his major league debut with the Royals in 2009. He was traded to the Athletics in 2012. Baseball is his favorite sport. His passion about the game is evident in his play. Now he write blogs about baseball and other things whenever he has some free time. LinkedIn

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