Fastest Baseball Pitchers: The Legend and The Reality

April 25, 2011

In the hardest-throwing era Baseball has ever seen, the Cincinnati Red’s Aroldis Chapman wears the ubiquitous crown of “Fastest Pitcher in Baseball.” But is this flame-throwing reliever the hardest throwing slinger in the history of the sport?


The answer, statistically, is yes. Unofficially, though, it’s a whole different story. With such an old game, it’s impossible to avoid a few myths and legends. And there are certainly a few about who really holds the title of the Fastest Pitcher in History.

Technically speaking, Reds’ reliever Chapman has recorded two of the top 10 fastest pitches ever recorded in MLB history. Late last year he made history when he threw 25 pitches to end a game against San Diego, all of which were over 100 mph. But it was batter Tony Gwynn who was treated with Chapman’s biggest throw of the night, a 105.1 mph fastball that holds the record to this day.

Still, there are some old timers who would argue that there was one man who possibly threw harder than today’s champ, and that man was a little known minor-leaguer named Steve Dalkowski. Nicknamed “White Lightning” for the blazing speed of his pitches, Dalkowski lived and played in an era without accurate pitch speed measurement, and so his top speed was never clocked. Some experts, however, believed he threw as hard as 115 mph! Never making the big-leagues for his perennial lack of control, Dalko still holds the record for most batters walked and struck out during an inning. After facing him in a spring game, famed Boston Red Sox hitter Ted Williams looked physically shaken up.

“Fastest ever,” said Williams. “I never want to face him again.”

Sadly, we’ll never know what speeds “White Lightning” ever reached. But he’ll always be remembered as the inspiration for Tim Robbins’ character in Bull Durham. Rest assure, though, there’s no lack of power throwing in the Major Leagues today! Here’s the top ten list of the fastest baseball pitches ever recorded in the MLB.

Fastest Recorded MLB Pitches
2010 Aroldis Chapman (Reds) 105.1 mph
2006 Joel Zumaya (Tigers) 104.8 mph
2010 Aroldis Chapman (Reds) 104 mph
1995 Mark Wohlers (Braves) 103 mph
2002 Armando Benitez (Mets) 102 mph
2009 Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers) 102 mph
2010 Neftali Feliz (Rangers) 102 mph
2005 Bobby Jenks (White Sox) 102 mph
2004 Randy Johnson (Diamondbacks) 102 mph
2007 Matt Lindstrom (Marlins) 102 mph

What do you think of today’s flame-throwers? Experts say that the human body restricts throwing a ball much over 100 mph, but the pitches keep getting faster and faster. How long will Chapman’s record stand? Well the Red’s reliever almost broke his own record a few weeks ago with an unbelievable 106 mph pitch, but conflicting readings on different speedometers nullified the pitch. Let me know what you think in the comment section!

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4 Responses to “Fastest Baseball Pitchers: The Legend and The Reality”

  1. 1
    saywenn Says:

    I’ve seen Daniel Bard in Boston….He’s the fastest I’ve ever seen in person. 100 – 101, WITH CONTROL

  2. 2
    michiganman5 Says:

    I am a Tigers fan, so I am a little biased, but in one game, I saw Zumaya (via tv) throw 4-5 pitches at 103mph. He has done that several times. Why does it only show his TOP pitch. He should be number 2-10!

  3. 3
    geo377 Says:

    I remember Bob Gibson having TWO fastballs, The high 90’s to 100 MPH he normaly used, but occasionally when the time was right he used different body motion and threw a jet. Does anyone know if it was ever checked??? He would set them up with a slider and then fire that one.

  4. 4
    BBOBB Says:

    I rember Bob Gibson in a GE commercil for Laxan. It showed him throwing a baseball at the window at 105 mph.

    Don’t forget Bob would pitch a full 9+ innings and still bring the 3 didget flame. I think if you check there are records of Bob Gibsons speeds.

    There’s also Satual Page. He had his disapering pitch that was so fast Umpires would ask the catcher if it was a strike or a ball because you would see the motion and then hear the loud pop of it hitting the catchers glove.

    I think some more reserch needs to be done to make the list accurite.