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.