Another knuckleballer? At least this one seems like a super cool guy.
Today Jamie Campbell of Sportsnet reported through Twitter that the Toronto Blue Jays will sign Frank Viola III to a minor league contract.
— Jamie Campbell (@SportsnetJamie) March 4, 2014
Viola later confirmed the news through his own Twitter account (@FrankViola3), although as far as I can see the Blue Jays have yet to announce the transaction. Reading carefully through his SpongeBob SquarePants background, he’s updated to read Toronto Blue Jays knuckleball pitcher so if that’s not confirmation, I don’t know what else.
According to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, back in spring 2012 Viola started attempting knuckleball in front of then New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey. Apparently Dickey was impressed and now Viola is a full-fledged member of the knuckleball society. That same spring he met with Hall-of-Famer Phil Niekro and today he received a shout out from Tim Wakefield on Twitter (and Kate Upton?!?)
I could, you know, do some actual research on Viola but that sounds like it might require some actual work. So what do I know? His old man was a major leaguer. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 29th round of the 2004 draft. According to the aforementioned MLB.com article, he blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery in 2006. A knee injury in 2007 led to his release by the White Sox. He played a year of independent league ball in 2010 but since that I’m not sure what he’s been doing, other than working on his knuckleball and watching SpongeBob SquarePants.
Kevin Thang at Tip of the Tower shares a cool video of Viola throwing knuckleballs so while you are here go check that out too.