In baseball, the vulcan changeup pitch (otherwise known as a vulcan or trekkie) is a type of changeup; it closely resembles a forkball and split-finger fastball. It is a variation of the circle changeup, and when mastered can be extremely effective. Much like a forkball, the vulcan is gripped between two fingers on the hand, but rather than the middle and index finger as with the forkball or split-finger fastball, it sits in between the middle and ring fingers to make a v-shape (Vulcan salute) when releasing to the catcher. It is thrown with fastball arm speed but by pronating the hand by turning the thumb down, to get good downward movement on it.
The pitch is uncommon in Major League Baseball. Ian Kennedy throws this style of changeup instead of others because he "found it more comfortable and had more movement". Among the others who have thrown it are former relievers Randy Tomlin and Joe Nelson, and most notably former all-star closer Éric Gagné, for whom the vulcan changeup was considered one of his best pitches. Roy Oswalt adopted this pitch during the 2010 offseason and prefers it over the circle changeup.
Nelson explained his choice for naming the pitch: "It was either going to be Nanu Nanu or the Vulcan. Spock just seemed like a cooler character than Mork." The pitch has been nicknamed the "trekkie", because of the Vulcan symbol, from the show Star Trek, that appears in the grip of the ball.
- Hughes, Phil (2 February 2008). "Ian's Answers ...". The Phil Hughes Weblog. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- "Tomlin's change of pace keeping Pirates in step". The Pittsburgh Press. 7 August 1991.
He calls it a changeup. His teammates call it a Vulcan changeup. New York Mets hitters were calling it things that cannot be printed after he sent them cussing back to the dugout time after time last night.
- "Vulcan grip changed RP Joe Nelson’s career". Boston Herald (Herald Media). 20 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
The Vulcan, as it’s known, is the grip Nelson uses for his changeup, and he jokes that it has kept him in professional baseball for 14 years.
- "Tampa Bay Rays Tales: Star Trek fan Joe Nelson hopes to pitch long and prosper.". St. Petersburg Times. 3 May 2009. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- Law, Keith (12 September 2007). "Good fit for Gagne, Brewers". Scouts Inc., ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- "Phillies' Oswalt tells gripping story of learning to like the changeup". Philadelphia Daily News. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-17.
- "Joe Nelson". They Said It (Sports Illustrated, Time Inc.). 2009-05-18. Retrieved 2010-04-26.