Where does the term “eephus pitch” come from? What does eephus mean?

The “eephus pitch” was first used by Pittsburgh Pirates starter Rip Sewell.

In an exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers in 1942, Pirates catcher Al Lopez called for a changeup on a 3-2 count to Dick Wakefield. Sewell threw a high, arching lob to the plate, and when the pitch finally arrived, Wakefield swung and missed.

After the game, manager Frankie Frisch asked Sewell what he called the pitch, and Pirates outfielder Maurice Van Robays replied “that’s an eephus pitch.” When Sewell asked him what an eephus was, Van Robays said, “Eephus ain’t nuthin’.” From then on, Sewell called it the eephus pitch.

Sewell said he created the pitch after a war injury forced him to alter his wind-up. Unable to pivot on his right foot, he had to adopt an overhand delivery which led to the development of his new pitch.