Screwball (Zany Player) (1926)

[Walter “Duster”] Mails, lest you remember, is what is commonly known in baseball circles as a ‘screw-ball.’ He’s apt to go off on a tangent on little or no provocation—take weird ‘crazy hops’ of temperament that are as baffling to those with whom he comes in contact as his own twisters are to the batters who face him.” Jack James. Los Angeles Evening Express, July 2, 1926, p21 

  • NOTE: Mails, who pitched in the major leagues in parts of seven seasons between 1915 and 1926, was back in the minors with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League at the time of this article. 

Previous earliest use (Dickson Baseball Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2009):
1ST USE: 1944.“Screwball—Term often applied to a lefty given to eccentricities or to other player who does odd things” (Al Schacht, Al Schacht Dope Book, p. 44).