A spitball pitch is an illegal pitch in which the ball has been altered by the application of saliva, petroleum jelly, or some other foreign substance. The pitch causes the ball to move atypically due to the altered wind-resistance and weight on one side of the ball. Alternative names for the spitball are
So, there is a question to be asked: Anybody throwing spitball pitchesanymore? Not many as there are so many cameras on the pitcher it is hard for the pitcher to disguise putting some sort of crap on the baseball. Another question to be asked: How does a normal “spitballer” get the “spit” or the doctoring onto the ball. Some players would put some sort of odd substance on their uniform or body between innings then wipe it onto the ball. For example, some put petroleum jelly or sunscreen or hair cream on their head then wipe it onto the ball (Try doing this unseen by cameras and zoom lenses). Umpires would come out and check the uniforms and body of players. One player put Vaseline on his pants zipper knowing that the umpire was not going to check there. If the pitcher has a great friend on the infield the friend can always put some “spit” on the ball and throw it to the pitcher. But that can be a bit messy when the pitcher catches the ball.
Like any good thief a good spitball throwing pitcher hardly ever caught so we don’t know how often the pitch is thrown. Most pitchers overestimate their ability to throw a spitball pitch and when questioned by the umpire stutter nervously, and breathe irregularly. They start looking around as if searching for an easy exit. So, to be a good spitballer you have to have the dexterity hide your handling of the ball to manipulate it to get the “spit” onto it. To see if you are dexterous enough, using india ink, write the Lord's Prayer thrice on a piece of paper the size of apostage stamp. This is going to test your honesty to the lord and dexterity, and, of course, if you can do both, then you don’t need or want to throw a spitball.
"The Spitter" spitball sports art painting by artist John Robertson is 50" x 70" acrylic on unstretched canvas.