March 13, 2017
I sure I will get some rebuttal on this but let me give you good sound reasons why catchers need more love. You might say the hockey goaltenders, football offensive linemen or rugby players got it tougher. Sure they have to be a talented and physical, but a good baseball catcher has those qualities as well. What I think separates the argument and comparison is the game management element that is essential to every baseball contest.
The physical aspects of baseball catching are not normal to the human body. Sitting in a squat for inning after inning, game after game and season after season takes its toll that manifest into “catcher’s legs” which impede a catcher’s ability to run no faster than my thirteen-year Labrador. It looks like running, and the legs are moving but the distance covered should never be timed. Catchers take incredible blows to the body, arms, head and everywhere the padding doesn’t protect.
When a team gets their hands on a good catcher, not just a physically gifted guy but one that can influence a game with his mind, they tend to hang around. The above average rated catchers know how to settle their pitchers nerves. They work the targeting and zone to maximize the results of the pitcher’s best pitches. The catcher is a psychologist for the pitching staff and if you heed his advice their level of success increase. Behind every great pitcher is his catcher that makes him shine.
The catchers throwing arm, if strong and accurate can be difference in most games. Limiting runners to advance by stealing is one of the telling distinctions of catcher that has the ability to have a longer career. The solid defensive skills will ensure him that he will be in the game in the late innings. You have catchers that the duo talents of both offensive and defensive but that is a small group that is comprised of the best.
Is it any wonder why catchers make good managers? The list is long of former catchers that have gone on be successful managers. They have the cerebral skills that include calm behavior when it appears the wheels are falling off the wagon. They also have the benefit having the experience of handling a pitching staff. It’s ten to twelve different personalities that need to work in cohesion to get through a long grueling season. The aged catcher may look a little haggard, and world weary but that is the cost of caring the load for years. The next time you see a pitcher skip a 90mph sinker in the dirt and the catcher contorts his body in an attempt to stop it, and he does stop it, that’s athleticism at its finest.