This conversation originally aired on June 28, 2017.
Author Terry McDermott grew up in Cascade, Iowa with a passion for baseball instilled by his father. Inspired by Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez’s perfectly pitched game in 2012, McDermott wrote his latest book Off Speed: Baseball, Pitching and the Art of Deception.
After explaining different types of pitches, McDermott’s novel combines a pitcher’s thoughts and strategy with baseball data and narrates readers through the perfect baseball game.
He explains that despite the current wealth of baseball statistics available for any player, professional athletes tend to be superstitious sharing their pitching strategies. Three young pitchers agreed and then backed out before he was finally able to convince one to share his secrets.
“They’re always trying to eliminate variables, trying to make everything literally as routine as they can—and then the results are still different. So they don’t want more variables, and to them I was a variable that they didn’t need. Most professional athletes and most pitchers will be happy to talk to you for five to ten minutes after a game but to sit down and tell you exactly what they do, why they do it, and how they do it—that’s a little tougher.”
On this Talk of Iowa, Charity Nebbe speaks with McDermott about researching and writing his book and about growing up in small-town Iowa.