Twin Garland Shifflett Is One Lucky ‘Duck’

Posted September 3rd, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Garland Shifflett, knuckleball
Art by Dugald Stermer,
courtesy Good Nature Publishing

Pitcher Garland Shifflett is a league leader in my eyes. He didn’t have the longest career. Nor, did he send the longest letters. He did make every word count, showing his care in corresponding with a fan.

Shifflett tasted a bit of success in his “cup of coffee.” He earned his only career save on June 11, 1964, stopping the Tigers. (Thanks, http://www.retrosheet.org/!)

First, I wanted to decode his nickname. Shades of “Ducky” Medwick!

“‘Duck’ came from my high school years! I am bow-legged. The name stuck through my career and I had no problem with it.”


Tucked between his 1957 Senators debut and his 1964 stint with the Twins was a busload of minor league action. Why did he log all those seasons for a second chance at the majors?

“What gave me the drive to keep going was the 1st and the 15th (paydays). HA! Honestly, I just purely loved the game.”


Part of Shifflett’s return hinged on the inclusion of a new pitch. He became a knuckleballer in 1963.

“I created the pitch myself. Good catchers [Garland’s underlined emphasis] really don’t care what you throw as long as you strike the batter out.”


I closed my letter with:

 “Thank you for your time. My ‘career’ ended in Little League. However, I can close my eyes and I’m back on the field again — like it was yesterday.”
Shifflett replied:

“Thanks for your questions. I also close my eyes and I’m on the mound again!”

I’m grateful to publisher Tim Colman, the force behind Good Nature Publishing. His company offers a great print of “The Slider,” showing the proper grip. These would look great autographed by your favorite pitcher. (This is not a paid affiliate link. I’m just delighted with this art, knowing that other fans and collectors will love it, too!)

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