He is sometimes called the fastest pitcher in baseball history and had a fastball that probably exceeded 100 mph (160 km/h).Some experts believed it went as fast as 125 mph (201 km/h), others that his pitches traveled at 120 mph (190 km/h) or less.As no radar gun or other device was available at games to measure the speed of his pitches precisely, the actual top speed of his pitches remains unknown.
Such was his reputation that despite never reaching the major leagues, and finishing his minor league years in class-B ball, the 1966 Sporting News item about the end of his career was headlined "LIVING LEGEND RELEASED." Dalkowski was also famous for his unpredictable performance and inability to control his pitches.
His alcoholism and violent behavior off the field caused him problems during his career and after his retirement.
After he retired from baseball, he spent many years as an alcoholic, making a meager living as a manual laborer.
He recovered in the 1990s, but his alcoholism has left him with dementia and he has difficulty remembering his life after the mid-1960s.
Screenwriter and film director Ron Shelton played in the Baltimore Orioles minor league organization soon after Dalkowski.
His 1988 film Bull Durham features a character named "Nuke" La Loosh (played by Tim Robbins) who is based loosely on the tales Shelton was told about Dalkowski.
In 1970, Sports Illustrated's Pat Jordan wrote, "Inevitably, the stories outgrew the man, until it was no longer possible to distinguish fact from fiction.
But, no matter how embellished, one fact always remained: Dalkowski struck out more batters and walked more batters per nine-inning game than any professional pitcher in baseball history." Dalkowski began playing baseball in high school, and also played football as a quarterback for New Britain High School.
During his time with the football team, they won the division championship twice, in 19.
However, he excelled the most in baseball, and still holds a Connecticut state record for striking out 24 batters in a single game.
After graduating from high school in 1957, Dalkowski was immediately signed by the Baltimore Orioles for a ,000 bonus, and initially played for their class-D minor league affiliate in Kingsport, Tennessee.