Real American Hot Pipes: Part II
Steve "White Lightning" Dalkowski. The name itself is legendary, like Paul Bunyan, Davey Crockett, or Barbara Streisand. They called him "the man who could throw a strawberry through a locomotive." He was the hardest thrower in history, with a fastball that "looked like an airplane taking off." He once took a guy's ear off with a pitch.
But that ain't why he's in the HPO hall of fame. He's in because of what he did off the diamond.
Steve Dalkowski had an IQ of 60. "The more your talked to Dalkowski," said Earl Weaver, "the more confused he became."
He was notorious for never changing or washing his underwear or socks ("the whites"). He was even more notorious for alcoholism so helpless and depraved that many other men would have cracked.
Cal Ripken Sr. said, "Dalkowski could do some drinking. He just couldn't stop. He liked to stay out, drink and have some fun. He'd always be borrowing money to but booze and was broke from payday to payday."
One night, his teammates found him at the local saloon with 24 scotch-and-waters lined up before him. "Hey, guys, come over and look at this beautiful sight," he said. After drinking all 24, Steve stopped at the store on the way home and bought a jug of wine. "The next night they just carried him off the mound in the fourth inning," said Steve Barber, an ex-teammate.
Or the time he "got pretty lit" after a game and drove around town in a brand new Cadillac before crashing it into a police car.
Eventually, the alcohol got him. Suffering from psychotic dementia, Dalkowski eventually checked himself in for treatment. He shocked doctors by surviving, but cannot remember most of his life after 1964 due to the sauce.