The fosh, fosh ball, or fosh change is a seldom used pitch in Major League Baseball described as "a cross between a split-fingered pitch and a straight change-up". It is designed to fool a batter expecting a fastball to have to contend with a slower pitch. The pitch has a grip like a fastball, but the index and middle fingers are spread slightly across the baseball, and the ring and little finger wrap around the side of the ball. If thrown properly, it has characteristics like a breaking change-up or an off-speed split-finger fastball.
The origin of the fosh is unknown. Mike Boddicker was the first pitcher known to throw it, having tried it in the 1980s. As pitching coach for the Boston Red Sox, Al Nipper taught the pitch to Jeff Suppan in 1995, and Tom Gordon and Roger Clemens in 1996. Other pitchers who have used it in a game are Jason Frasor, Trevor Hoffman, Johan Santana, and Carl Pavano, and Carlos Rosa.
There are various etymologies for the term "fosh". According to The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers: An Historical Compendium of Pitching, Pitchers, and Pitches, three derivations are known. One is that Earl Weaver described it as "a cross between a fastball and a dead fish". Another is a description by David Nied, who said the term sounds "like the perfect word for the movement of the pitch". A third derivation, from Al Nipper, is that fosh is an acronym for "full of ...".
- McAdam, Sean (3 April 1996). "A fresh start for Gordon". South Coast Media Group. New England Sports Service. Retrieved 2011-04-11.
- Bastian, Jordan (12 April 2009). "Once rarely used split-finger helped get final out". Cleveland.
'Right now, I have a pretty good feel for it,' Frasor said. 'I'm going to ride it until it doesn't work any more. It's like a split, but I think people call it a fosh. Pappy taught it to me back in '05 and it's been on and off, on and off.'
- James, Bill; Neyer, Rob (2004). The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers: An Historical Compendium of Pitching, Pitchers, and Pitches. Simon and Schuster. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-7432-6158-6.
- "Red Sox preview". South Coast Media Group. The New England Sports Service. 31 March 1996. Retrieved 2011-04-11.
- "Carl Pavano #48 - SP". The Sports Network.
Changes speeds well, including a 'fosh' ball that is a great change-of-pace pitch.
- Callis, Jim; Lingo, Will (2007). Baseball America Prospect Handbook. Baseball America. p. 217. ISBN 978-1-932391-14-5.
He never was comfortable with a conventional circle changeup before his elbow reconstruction, so the Royals taught him a fosh changeup that's now his second-best pitch.
- Golen, Jimmy (10 March 1996). "Sox pitchers hit with 'fosh fever'". Associated Press.