The 6-foot-5 left-hander with a withering fastball and wicked changeup won five strikeout titles from 1965 to 1970 and twice topped 300 K's, a feat matched only by Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, J.R. Richard, Walter Johnson, Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez. Hitters had an added reason to fear Sudden Sam. "I was the biggest, most hopeless and most violent drunk in baseball," McDowell admitted. He struck out 2,453 during his 15-year career, and his 74 games of 10 or more K's rank fourth behind Ryan, Koufax and Steve Carlton.
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It was said of Johnson, the all-time leader in hit batsmen with 203, that only Smokey Joe Wood could throw harder among his contemporaries. Adding to the intimidation for righties: Johnson threw sidearm.
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"Rapid Robert" once had his fastball clocked at 98.6 mph, which was officially the record until it was broken by Nolan Ryan. Feller used his velocity wisely, striking out 2,581 batters and posting a 266-162 record.
4 of 15Anthony Ravielli/SI
Nicknamed "The Barber" for the close shaves his brushback pitches would give hitters, Maglie used the high-and-tight pitch to set up his variety of nasty curveballs.
5 of 15Chuck Solomon/SI
One of the smallest power pitchers in the history of the game, Martinez (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) made his legend with a tailing fastball, a wicked curve, a nasty change and a whole lotta feistiness. During his years with Montreal, Martinez was known as "Señor Plunk" -- a headhunter who was ejected 12 times in 23 starts in 1994 while ending up in three fights. In Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, Martinez attracted the ire of Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer by making a gesture that seemed to indicate he was going to hit catcher Jorge Posada in the head.
6 of 15Tony Triolo/SI
At 6-foot-8, 200 pounds, Richard unleashed an overpowering 100-mph heater and a filthy 93-mph slider with just enough wildness to keep hitters from digging in at the plate. He made his major league debut with the Astros in 1971 by tying the NL rookie record of 15 strikeouts and went on to win 20 games in 1976. Three years later he joined Nolan Ryan and Sandy Koufax as the only modern-era pitchers to strike out 300 batters in two consecutive seasons. (Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson have since joined the fraternity.) His career was cut short by a stroke in 1980.
7 of 15John Iacono/SI
Burning with an intensity that approached his 96-mph fastball, Gossage was one of the most durable and consistent power closers. Gossage racked up 310 saves and 1,502 strikeouts in 22 seasons. His glory years were with the Yankees from 1978 to '82, and he is best remembered for closing out their epic 1978 playoff game against Boston to win the AL East and, later, the World Series.
8 of 15John G. Zimmerman/SI
Koufax was known more for his devastating curveball, but his fastball was "so fast and so noisy, it scared you," said Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda.
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Marichal's otherworldly high leg kick made his curve, slider, screwball and fastball seem even more intimidating. His reputation was colored by his bat-swinging blowup at Dodgers catcher John Roseboro on Aug. 22, 1965. Marichal had already flattened Maury Wills and Ron Fairly with brushbacks when Roseboro's return throw came close to Marichal's head. Marichal rapped the catcher on the head with his bat, sparking a wild brawl.
10 of 15Chuck Solomon/SI
Is there anything more frightening for a hitter than facing a 6-foot-10 lefty with a 100-mph fastball and control problems? That was Big Unit during the early years of his career. Later he refined his control to make full use of the brushback pitch when necessary.
11 of 15John Iacono/SI
The Ryan Express hit 158 batters during his career, not counting the beating he gave a young Robin Ventura for charging the mound. Ryan's lack of control -- he walked more than 100 batters in a season 11 times -- only served to give hitters further trepidation.
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All you have to know about his affinity for the brushback pitch is that he threw one to his own son, Koby, in spring training after Koby took him deep. That probably doesn't make Mike Piazza feel any better, though. The Mets catcher suffered a concussion from a Clemens beanball and later had a broken bat thrown at him by the seven-time Cy Young award winner.
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Wynn was one of the most intimidating pitchers of the 1950s. Mickey Mantle once said of him, "That s.o.b. is so mean he would (expletive) knock you down in the dugout." The 300-game winner was once quoted as saying he would throw at his own grandmother. "I'd have to," he said. "My grandma could really hit the curveball."
14 of 15John G. Zimmerman/SI
Don't let that "Brady Bunch" cameo fool you -- this guy was no softy. Drysdale was famous for advocating a second knockdown pitch to hitters, just so they knew the first one wasn't a mistake.
15 of 15Walter Iooss/SI
Standing tall on the high pitching mounds of the 1960s, few pitchers insisted on owning the inner half of the plate the way Gibson did. In his autobiography, he wrote that he threw nine pitches: "two different fastballs, two sliders, a curve, a change-up, knockdown, brushback, and hit-batsman."
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