January 21, 2006


A long time ago, when I was a kid playing Little League, I was a catcher. Why was I the catcher? Well, honestly, I'd guess because I was the fattest guy on the team. This was most likely also why I was the goalie on my street hockey team despite being a much better defender. Anyway, like any kid playing ball I learned to embrace the Major League counterparts at my position. Personally, I looked up to guys like Carlton Fisk, Gary Carter, Rich Gedman and Lance Parrish. I was also a huge fan of "Gregg Olson the Catcher" which is a another story onto its own.

At some point around this time I began carrying the baseball card of a catcher in my wallet for good luck. These included "Gregg Olson the Catcher" and Fisk but most notably Kirk Manwaring's 1989 Topps card #506 which resided there for over a decade until after his final season for the Rockies in 1999. At that point he was replaced with a 1991 Upperdeck Tony Pena, #652. I was given this card as a gift from my good friend Robyn and it's still in there.

Most people don't realize that catcher is one of the most demanding positions in any sport. It is a physical and mental endeavor that requires much more than just knowing how to catch the ball and how to throw the ball to second. As the catcher you must be a strong leader and have a heck of a head for baseball strategy. Catchers have to call the game and handle the pitcher. Enough said there.

Also, despite being heavily padded, catchers routinely suffer the worst physical abuse in baseball. Nowadays after three concussions and two busted knees thanks to train and taxi accidents over the years, I could be confused for Tom Berenger in the film Major League.

Don Slaught and Rick Cerone, this Bud's for you.


Ben Henry said...

Case in point about the power of a good catcher and the fact that certain co-GMs don't seem to understand, even though that's their job, that they can't just go and trade them without dealing with the consequences: the Red Sox made a medium-sized splash in the off-season by acquiring Mark "Sweet" Loretta from the Padres in exchange for backup catcher Doug Mirabelli. Okay, Mirabelli was a part-time catcher and Loretta is the quintessential utilityman who can start at third, short or second. But there was a reason why they were traded straight-up, even though the non-Red Sox fan would probably think the Sawx were getting a steal and a half. It's because Mirabelli caught Tim Wakefield. Varitek can't catch the knuckler and Mirabelli can. It's that simple. So why did they trade Mirabelli and retain Wakefield? Because the new co-GMs for the Sox didn't see Mirabelli as a strong catcher, they saw him as a back-up catcher. Plain and simple, they just don't care. And that sucks.

TOLAXOR said...



Poop Poopson said...

I believe the catcher was Greg (one "g") Olson.

Jrome said...

I was a catcher in little league, admired and collected some of my favorite's cards: Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench, Tony Pena, and that catcher from the Mets, when was it 81 or 84? Gary Carter? I dunno, I forget baseball. Too many bats to the side of the helmet.