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This negated most of the spin on the ball, causing it to drop more than expected, much like a modern splitter.
Pitchers who threw this style of spitter often chewed a substance such as slippery elm when pitching in order to improve the lubricating properties of their saliva.
While both Hildebrand and Corridon used it in the majors, Jack Chesbro and Ed Walsh were the first star pitchers who depended heavily on the spitball, first learning about it by watching Stricklett.
The tremendous success of Chesbro and Walsh- the only American League pitchers ever to win 40 games in a season- led other pitchers to take up the pitch, and it quickly became common.
Notable pitchers who admitted throwing the spitter include Preacher Roe, Don Drysdale, and Gaylord Perry.A spitball (aka spitter, wet one, or unsanitary pitch) is a pitch in which the pitcher applies saliva to the baseball, either to change its aerodynamic properties or to reduce friction between his fingers and the ball.The term is sometimes applied loosely to pitches in which the ball is treated with other foreign substance, such as vaseline, and occasionally to any type of pitch that involves doctoring the baseball.Even though defacing the ball was clearly illegal, pitchers continued to do so because the rule was weak- the only penalty for being caught was a fine- and rarely enforced.In many cases the pitcher didn't need to scuff the ball because the rules allowed balls to remain in play after they had been damaged and discolored by ordinary use.
While the exemption was originally intended to last for just one season, the leagues backed off slightly after the season.