Don’t Mess with Texas … Pitchers

Southern-born pitchers are more likely than other pitchers to hit batters in situations where they’ve just given up a home run or a teammate has been hit by the opposing pitcher, an academic study says. According to the Washington Post, business professor Thomas Timmerman was studying the impact of race on pitcher-hitter matchups.

Although he found no link between race and the number of times batters were hit by pitches, he did find an interesting geographical link.

“I found that pitchers from the South are not more likely in general to hit batters,” Timmerman said in a telephone interview, “but they are much more likely to hit batters after giving up a home run, or after a teammate has gotten hit the previous half-inning.”

Timmerman theorizes that this results from the South’s “culture of honor.” Born Fighting, Sen. Jim Webb called it in his book about the Scotch-Irish in America. He wrote about the “rednecks” and their “unique and unforgiving code of personal honor.” Webb wouldn’t be surprised at Timmerman’s findings.

Timmerman used a strictly geographic analysis: he classified pitchers by their state of birth. And he found that half of the active U.S.-born control pitchers who have hit the most batters are from 16 Southern states.

It’s just possible that an ethnic analysis would have strengthened his case. Two of the top non-Southerners on the list, Jeff Weaver and David Wells, were born in southern California. Could they be descended from Okies and Arkies or other Scotch-Irish families who kept heading west and carried the “culture of honor” with them?