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Unbroken's avatar

Can a person catch a fastball?

Asked by Unbroken (10714points) January 25th, 2015

If a pitcher throws a ball over 90mph can someone catch it without hurting their hand?

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18 Answers

cookieman's avatar

I played baseball, as a kid, for ten years (until I was fifteen). I mostly played first base and there were plenty of instances where I’d catch a hit ball barehanded. Not sure how fast the ball was moving, but some were line drives. Pretty fast. It’s possible I suppose.

Unbroken's avatar

Did you hurt your hand? Were you wearing a mitt? Did you compensate for the tragectory of the ball with your body?

ucme's avatar

I know in cricket the method for catching a rapidly moving ball is to cup your hands in an inverted manner & it’s best to cushion the impact by flexing your arms & upper body slightly backwards in time with the ball’s velocity.

BlackSwanEffect's avatar

It is possible to catch a fast moving ball. In the example here, the ball was probably close to 150 kays coming off the bat.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

My brother was a pretty good pitcher and could easily throw in the nineties. You just want to be careful where your hands are with a mitt. Barehanded you had to time it to swing your hand with the ball to increase the stopping distance, or it hurt. A lot.

LuckyGuy's avatar

The catcher does it many times per game. He uses a padded catcher’s mitt. I played when I was a kid (hated it) and caught some balls after they were hit. I figure since a person can hit a ball farther than they can throw it, the hit ball is moving faster. (I’ll check those numbers.) I would always stand a bit to the side in case I missed. It also gave my gloved hand distance to decelerate. I was not a hero.

ucme's avatar

In cricket, only the wicketkeeper wears gloves, all outfielders including the bowler, are bare-handed.
One fielder crouches no more than a few feet away from the batter, his position, not unsurprisingly, is known as Silly Point.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Ok. I just ran a ballistic simulation on a hit baseball that arcs at 45 degrees and lands just inside the 420’ wall. Terminal velocity is 117 ft/sec. 79 mph. The fielder would have 5.1 seconds to get into position. That is much easier than a 90 mph fast ball.

To sense check my answer I looked to see how far professional players can throw and was shocked to see that 400 ft is quite common. Incredible.
(I was happy to throw a golf ball 150 ft.)

Strauss's avatar

I haven’t played baseball for a long time, even longer with smaller, hardball-type baseball. I do remember several times trying to catch with my ungloved hand. I would usually do what @LuckyGuy described above, catch it to the side, using that movement to decelerate the ball. It usually caused my hand to sting momentarily, but I sustained no injuries to speak of.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Yetanotheruser You got hit with the ball, too? When I was about 8 or 9 l was trying to catch a fly ball. I got under it with my mitt and hands in position. The ball hit the mitt, bounced off and hit me on the eyebrow. Blood everywhere. I needed stitches and carry the scar today.
Engineering was a much safer career path.

Brian1946's avatar

One can catch a fastball using a mitt without hurting their hand, especially if they catch it in the webbing.

Dutchess_III's avatar

They do it in the pros all the time.

Strauss's avatar

Also, it depends on how well the calluses have formed.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I think calluses come from friction, repeated rubbing. I don’t think they form from getting slapped.

jaytkay's avatar

This site says ball exit speed on leaving the bat is up to 122 mph.

So a pitcher or shortstop catching a line drive is catching a much faster ball than a fastball pitch.

Unbroken's avatar

Wow thanks for the logistical workup, clips and the personal stories. Constantly amazed at a bodies capabilities. And @ucme the silly point and such was funny.

ucme's avatar

@Unbroken Cricket is a funny game, there’s a piece of TV commentary from years ago where England played the West Indies.
The English batsman at the crease was Peter Willey, about to bowl to him was Michael Holding, the West Indies most feared fast bowler.
Genuine commentary spoken in a posh English accent wothout hint of irony:
“The bowler’s Holding the batsman’s Willey”

cookieman's avatar

Yup, as stated by a few Jellies, the trick is to have your body to the side of the ball’s trajectory so there’s room for the arm to swing while catching. You do not want to catch the ball stuff-armed, with your hand stationary. That hurts, and could break some bones.

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