R.I.P – the amazing Steve Dalkowski

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Dalko actually passed away from COVID-19 last April, but I never noticed.

His feats were truly the stuff of legends. There has never been anyone like him. He was the wildest, fastest, drunkest man ever to pitch in pro baseball. Although a man of average stature (5’11, 175 pounds), and unprepossessing appearance, he is considered by most people who witnessed his pitching as having had the fastest fastball ever. Earl Weaver said, “[Dalkowski] threw a lot faster than [Nolan] Ryan.” The great Ted Williams batted against him in a spring exhibition and said, “I never saw it. Fastest ever. I never want to face him again.”

Yeah, Dalko could chuck that weird little laced-up sphere. Unfortunately he had absolutely no idea where it was going. He set records for both strikeouts and walks everywhere he went. In one 1962 extra-inning game, he struck out 27 men, walked 16 and threw 283 pitches. In 1957, Dalkowski tossed a 24-strikeout no-hitter. Sounds incredibly good, right? He lost that game by allowing 8 runs on 18 walks. Those anecdotes only scratch the surface of his legendary games.

Ron Shelton used Dalko as the model for Nuke La Loosh in his script for Bull Durham. He later reflected on Dalkowski’s life: “It’s the gift from the gods — the arm, the power. That is what haunts us. He had it all and didn’t know it. That’s why Steve Dalkowski stays in our minds. He had the equivalent of Michelangelo’s gift but could never finish a painting.”

3 thoughts on “R.I.P – the amazing Steve Dalkowski

  1. thanks for this post…weird timeline in the video production with Lou Brock who also died fairly recently

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