Off Speed: Baseball, Pitching and the Art of Deception contains among other things a history of pitching, a history of personal fandom and a pitch-by-pitch breakdown of a single game – Felix Hernandez’s perfect game on August 15, 2012.  Tracing the evolution of pitching and the pitcher’s art of deception, Off Speed tells the fascinating story of baseball’s 150-year hunt for the perfect pitch. Using the framework of a single game (nine chapters, nine innings, nine pitches),  it explores the history of every type of pitch, combining the folk wisdom of the players with the enormous wealth of new data brought to the sport by the growing legion of statisticians who are transforming many of the sport’s once sacred beliefs.



Praise for Off Speed

George Vecsey says Off Speed  is “a literate and knowing little gem.” McDermott’s description of his first big-league game “reminds me of a boy’s rambunctious bus pub crawl with Welsh elders in the classic Dylan Thomas short story ‘The Outing.’ ”

“No one passionate about America’s national pastime will leave these pages disappointed.” – Booklist starred review

“McDermott’s deeply felt portrayal of the men on the mound is informed by an awareness of how much of what they do takes place in their head.” – The Atlantic

“Terry McDermott’s little gem, “Off Speed,” captures how to watch the game with the heart. I loved, loved, loved this book.” Washington Post

Off Speed is baseball magic. As soon as Terry McDermott set down thirteen deft definitions of pitches with which I happily began to quibble, then gave me Willie Stargell likening the attempt to hit Sandy Koufax to trying to drink coffee with a fork, I fell into a flow state that held to the last chapter.” —David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K 

Off Speed is “entertaining and wistful. . . McDermott demystifies baseball, illustrating the game’s “secret beauty” from being built over a very long time.”  – Publishers Weekly

“The narrative is filled with passion and insight into how the game’s measured pace can seem both out of touch with fast-paced contemporary life and a temporary corrective to that fast pace.” – Kirkus Review

“Providing both insight into the art of pitching and a memoir on the role of the game in the life of a baseball fan, this work will be enjoyed by all lovers of the sport.” – Library Journal

From the publisher: As a lifelong baseball fan, Terry McDermott approaches his subject with the love every fan brings to the park plus the expertise of a probing journalist, exploring with irrepressible enthusiasm and curiosity both the science and the romance of the game.”A wonderfully informative, exuberant, and entertaining book that explores the evolution and history of baseball pitching through the story of one “perfect” game.

From me: In truth, the book is a bit odder than that. It’s about one-third a history of the game, one-third a detailed examination of a single game – Felix Hernandez’s 2012 perfect game, and tucked in there somewhere a history of my personal fandom which means lots of Iowa, lots of  fathers and sons and Seattle and Niehaus and all kinds of other stuff. These are, of course, all mixed together so you have to read the parts you didn’t know you’d like to get to the parts you did. Tricky, huh?

Click on the Inning tabs in the menu at right (or, if you’re a modern person and are on a mobile, the menu is below) to see GIF’s of every pitch The King threw in his perfecto.  My, oh my.


Read an excerpt.

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