Yes, technological advancements are transforming the pitch counter, but that same technology can’t do much for the pitchers themselves. Today’s starting pitchers are not nearly as durable as the older models, who routinely finished what they started before rigid pitch counts helped the complete game to become an endangered species. But even though it is utilized, referenced and debated more than ever, keeping a pitch count isn’t anything new. But let’s just say it wasn’t quite as important in baseball’s past, as an anecdote from Hall of Famer Jim Palmer will demonstrate.
“The first time I ever kept a chart,” the former Oriole great recalled recently, “[Mike] Cuellar gave up a leadoff hit with a 5-2 lead with [Rod] Carew, [Tony] Oliva and [Harmon] Killebrew coming up, and I said, ‘Mr. Weaver, that’s his 135th pitch.’ “
And legendary manager Earl Weaver responded, “Get your rear end to the other end of the dugout. I’ll let you know if he’s tired.”
Palmer said, “So I got the idea right then that pitch counts didn’t mean much to Earl.”