April 2024


Eighty-one years ago, on June 1, 1943, Rip Sewell, a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, threw a blooper pitch in a game against the Boston Braves at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. After the game Sewell’s teammate outfielder Maurice Van Robays dubbed it “an eephus pitch.” When asked what “eephus” meant, Robays replied, “Eephus ain’t nothing, and that’s a nothing pitch.”

According to some linguistic scholars, “eephus” is in fact derived from the Hebrew word for “zero.” Whatever its etymology, “eephus” has now entered the baseball lexicon to mean a high arc pitch, like one thrown in slow pitch softball, sometimes with a velocity as low as 35 miles per hour.

As some alert readers (ARs) may recall, I wrote in this space last month about throwing out the first pitch at a Cardinals spring training game in Jupiter on February 24th. Upon reflection, I now think it’s fair to say that what I threw was an eephus pitch, which is not to say that it was a change up from the 90 mile per hour fastball I would have thrown otherwise. My 35 mile per hour eephus was the best I could do.

Two weeks later, on March 9th, an AR named Alex Brohammer had a much more impressive athletic accomplishment than my eephus pitch in Jupiter. He competed in the 50 mile Land between the Lakes Trail Run in Grand Rivers, KY, finishing in fifth place overall with a time of eight hours, 27 minutes and 30 seconds, which breaks down to a pace of ten minutes, nine seconds per mile. His speed was approximately one sixth that of my eephus pitch, but his distance was 5,000 times greater.

As disparate as Alex’s and my achievements were, they have something in common. Schlafly Beer was part of each of our respective training regimens. Far more important, however, is another connection between us. Alex is engaged to my niece Eloise Schlafly and will soon join the Schlafly family officially.

Racing into the Schlafly family

As I prepare along with other Schlaflys to welcome Alex into our family, it occurs to me that his run was in some ways a metaphor for marriage. To train for it was a huge commitment on his part that required dedication and perseverance, just like the commitment he and Eloise will make to each other on their wedding day. That said, as rewarding as it must have been to finish the race, the rewards that Alex and Eloise will experience in their many years of marriage will surely be infinitely greater. I’m honored that Schlafly Beer will be part of their celebration.

In the evening of the day of Alex’s 50 mile race, Ulrike and I were privileged to be at an event hosted by Ken and Nancy Kranzberg, whose 56 year marriage has been exemplary in myriad ways. We were among hundreds of friends and relatives celebrating Nancy’s 80th birthday at The Grandel Theater in Grand Center. It was a joyous occasion and I was proud that Schlafly Beer was included.

As some ARs probably know, Ken and Nancy have greatly enriched the cultural landscape in St. Louis through their extraordinarily generous philanthropy, especially in the arts. Ken is a successful businessman and is also an investor in the Schlafly Brewery. The program at The Grandel reflected the breadth of their interests with an exquisite dance performance and with musical entertainment that ran the gamut from opera to blues. The grand finale was a rendition of “Saint Louis Blues” by the birthday girl, who sometimes performs under the stage name “Mama Kranzberg.”

When she belted out the line “St. Louis woman with her diamond ring,” it struck me that Eloise and Nancy are both St. Louis women with diamond rings. Theirs is a far more elegant image of diamonds than my eephus pitch on the diamond in Jupiter.





Tom Schlafly
Chairman – The Saint Louis Brewery