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Steve Dalkowski, Inspiration for Nuke LaLoosh of ‘Bull Durham,’ Dead At 80 Due to COVID-19

Deadspin logo Deadspin 4/25/2020 Thomas Laforgia
Steve Dalkowski wearing a black hat

Steve Dalkowski, a towering figure in minor-league lore whose legendary arm strength was matched only by his lack of command, died earlier this week, his family announced. He was 80.

The left-handed hurler’s storied career in the minors inspired the character of “Nuke” LaLoosh, played by Tim Robbins, in the 1988 film “Bull Durham.”

Dalkowski died Sunday at a hospital in New Britain, Conn., of complications arising from a COVID-19 infection and a preexisting battle with dementia, his sister said.

He is best known for an oft-errant fastball, which, if contemporary accounts are to be believed, approached or even exceeded 110 mph.

Before signing with the Orioles organization out of high school in 1957, Dalkowski had already thrown a no-hitter in which he struck out 18 batters — and walked 18 more, according to a fascinating history of his exploits published recently in The Athletic.

Amid years of patience from the Orioles, Dalkowski gradually conquered his control problems, to an extent, and eventually broke into the majors in 1963. But an arm injury quickly derailed his prospects, and he would never throw a pitch in the big leagues.

Dalkowski, who had been in assisted living since 1994, last resided at the Grandview Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in New Britain.

At least 18 people in the Connecticut facility have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent weeks, and at least four have died.

Related slideshow: The best game in each MLB team's history (Provided by Yardbarker) 

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