Candy Cummings: Inventor of the Curve
Arthur [Candy] Cummings, a Brooklyn youth, was the first to bring into use the out-curve. He was known as the boy wonder, back in 1869, with the Stars of Brooklyn. I have heard him tell how he first discovered the curve. He was pitching against a picked nine one day, and noticed the ball curving. He had no difficulty in striking the batsman out, and went home that night and tried to study out the phenomenon. Next day he invited some gentleman friends out to see him work. They laughed at him, and when he tried to convince them that he could accomplish what he claimed he failed; no doubt in his anxiety he sent the ball too fast, and very little curve can be got on a speedy-pitched ball. He was not discouraged, however, but went with his catcher next day and learned that the curve came from a certain twist he gave his wrist. He worked hard until he got control of the new move and then astonished the scientific world. Cummings was of slight build, his pitching was very graceful, and his curve was of the sailing kind, much like Crauthers’ of the St. Louis Browns.
From The California Spirit of the Times & Underwriter’s Journal, September 17, 1887. The article was written from the persepctive of former player Tim Murran. Credit to SABR member Carlos Bauer.
At 17, Cummings debuted in the National Association of Base Ball Players with the Excelsior baseball club of Brooklyn. His first game with the team was on August 14, 1866 against the New York Mutuals. Ten days later he led his team to a 24-2 win against the Newark Eurekas. After the latter game baseball writer Henry Chadwick commented on the skills of the young Cummings and his promising future with the Excelsior club. He played for the Excelsiors next season and continued as the main pitcher for the Stars of Brooklyn from 1868 to 1871.
During a 6-year league career which lasted from 1872 until 1877, Cummings compiled a 145-94 career record and 2.49 ERA while playing for five different teams. Among other records, Cummings was the first player to record two complete games in one day: September 9, 1876 when he beat the Cincinnati Reds 14-4 and 8-4.
In 1877 Cummings left the National League after pitching only 19 games with the Cincinnati Reds to become the President of the new International Association for Professional Base Ball Players.