Denny McLain on pitching signs and reading

Before Detroit’s Denny McLain became the most famous pitcher of the major leagues by winning thirty-one games during the 1968 season, he spent some time in the minor leagues, learning his trade.

He tells a story about a team that used addition signs for its pitchers. The catcher would pump one finger, then pump one finger again, and then flash three fingers. The key to the signal for the pitcher was the first two pumps. The hurler on the mound had to add them together to get the right pitch called for. But ‘bn one particular day, the rookie pitcher on the mound kept crossing up the catcher. Finally, the disgusted backstop went out to the mound, and snarled at the pitcher: “What’s the matter, dope, can’t you add?”

“Sorry,” answered the rookie pitcher. “But try me on history. I was very good at that in school.”