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Old 06-27-2013, 10:39 PM  
Direckshun Direckshun is online now
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Playing Catcher

This is a bit of a weird thread idea, but I had a huge conversation with a big baseball guy today about catchers.

I guess I never spent time thinking about it, because I don't really follow baseball. But catcher is a really weird position in sports, is it not?

Anybody on this board play catcher? And I don't mean in your beer league softball team. I mean seriously.

Wear a shit ton of padding. Spend 85% of the game squatting, invariably leading to shit knees later in life. Constantly making calls and having the world's most passive aggressive arguments totally by finger with your pitcher. Have to have a rocket arm and amazing reflexes. And have this weird sibling-like relationship with pitchers.

It's just a weird kinda position, and it usually brings with it some pretty great stories.

Have any catcher stories, stories that are either just amusing or reveal a little bit about the nature of the position?

Like I said, random topic, but I'm pretty interested in it tonight.
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Old 06-28-2013, 05:53 AM   #31
Chest Rockwell Chest Rockwell is offline
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I loved it. Played from the time I was 12 to 21 (eventually got moved to the outfield in college & after as I don't have a prototypical catchers build). It's really basically being quarterback of a baseball team. Sure the pitchers get all the glory, but the catcher is the guy calling the game, helping set up the defense, helping with situational calls and calling cuts. None of that standing around picking your ass like a right fielder. You're involved in everything, and it helps a lot if you understand the game. It's why you see so many former catchers do well as managers.

I think the biggest thing is getting used to people taking cuts right in front of you. You get clipped every once in a while, but the foul tips are what really gets you. For me the ones that were off the inner thighs or reaching for a ball that's up away to a righty that gets fouled off and hits you in the ribs (before the chest protectors wrapped so much) was pretty brutal.

It's also a pretty technical position if you want to play it well. Learning the proper foot and body work to block pitches, knowing how a pitch in the dirt is going to come up based on what was thrown (spin), catching a high foul that basically goes straight up isn't nearly as easy as it looks. That shit does NOT come down straight, even if there's no wind. And the footwork/throwing mechanics for throwing out runners is actually quite a bit different than for other positions.

Tons of stories, but one the most entertaining (it's a love/hate story, I've found there isn't much middle ground with the way people receive it) was my senior year of high school, district championships. It was an unseasonably cold day, one of those where if you don't catch the ball right, or square it up on the bat right it hurts.

We're three or four innings in, and I feel like the ump is squeezing my pitcher. I was always the type of catcher who had conversations with the umps and would ask for clarifications on marginal calls. If I didn't know whether a ball was called low or away or both, I'd ask so I could adjust my targets. It was never confrontational at all, that never helps anyone, I just wanted the information. I could tell from the beginning this guy wasn't going to be a friendly type, so I didn't even bother for the first couple innings.

Finally, there was a pitch that I was shocked he called a ball, so I just said "out or down?" To which the reply was "you better just shut the **** up and do your gawddamn job!"

All right Chet, game on.

I call time and go out to the mound, tell our pitcher what happened and what I'm gonna do. Guy just grins and shakes his head. What you need to know about this guy is he was a major talent. Threw 96 in high school and was drafted after our senior year, didn't sign, and was drafted again after his junior year of college. Was on an Olympic team, then kicked around in the upper level of the minors for about 8 years (was unlucky enough to be in an organization who had a TREMENDOUS staff at the major league level at the time). So he was pretty legit.

I trot back to the plate, assume the position, drop a single finger and set up away (to a righty). This ump also had the really annoying habit of getting right up on your back and moving you so he could get in position, which I hated, so I knew exactly where he was and how he was set up. Wind-up, delivery, and I drop my glove and re-set inside quickly at the last minute. A split-second later there's the hiss of the ball going by me, then the deeply satisfying, unmistakable sound of hard cowhide hitting flesh, followed immediately by a yelp and some groaning. I turn around and the umps hand is about 3 times the size it should be. He's laying on his side holding it and obviously not very happy. My intention was for him to get clipped pretty good, not get cracked in the hand. But I can't say I felt too bad about that.

"Sorry. He crossed me up."

"**** you! You went to the mound right before that."

"Yeah, we clearly need to work on our communication skills."

The dude who came in to replace him had a much more reasonable strike zone. I don't think it had anything to do with the situation, just saying it worked out for everybody.

Except for the guy with the broken hand, I guess.
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Old 06-28-2013, 05:58 AM   #32
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this can either be very informative; ....or go very bad during the day crew. lol
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:28 AM   #33
rockymtnchief rockymtnchief is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chest Rockwell View Post
I loved it. Played from the time I was 12 to 21 (eventually got moved to the outfield in college & after as I don't have a prototypical catchers build).
I played catcher from 9 to 23 in baseball and then 5 more years in fast pitch softball. I was actually going to be assigned to a AA team somewhere in New York when it was decided I wasn't big enough to catch at that level. Coaches tried to convert me into a an outfielder. I was aweful. I could chase down pop flies, but line drives directly at me, froze me in my tracks.

There's a lot more to playing the position than just catching the ball. Blocking drills, throwing drills and footwork drills make or break the good ones. I could be a chiseled sumbitch if I got off the atv/couch/bar stool and started doing them again.



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Old 06-28-2013, 06:46 AM   #34
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:47 AM   #35
BigMeatballDave BigMeatballDave is offline
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:49 AM   #36
CoMoChief CoMoChief is offline
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I played it.

Very demanding position, hard on the knees and back if you're tall, which I am, which is why I stopped. which kinda sucks because I was good at the position and not many people could run on me because of my ridiculous hand cannon of an arm.
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Old 06-28-2013, 06:50 AM   #37
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Yup. Fun position. Involved in every play. First time being the full time catcher in quite awhile. Was out in left.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:03 AM   #38
Woodrow Call Woodrow Call is offline
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I moved from 3B to catcher in Jr Babe and stayed there throughout high school. Loved everything about the position and looking back I wouldn't have wanted to play anywhere else on the diamond.

I always had a powerful arm but whether it was a result of small town 1A type coaching or a a case of the yips no matter how hard I tried or how many coaches attempted I could never harness any control as a pitcher so I mainly played 3B, SS, and a little CF but a couple weeks into our season our catcher broke his arm and the last 6 years of my playing days were spent behind the plate.

Loved the camaraderie with my staff, being a coach on the field, talking to the opponents and joking with the ump. Hell I loved the gear and coming to the plate covered in dirt at the age you just feel cool playing the part.

From the playing prospective I did see my hitting dip a little but finally my arm became a weapon instead of a bit out of control. Not sure if it was being less on display or if because of the nature of the position I didn't have time to think but throwing out runners or picking off a distacted runner a 1st got me a couple all conference teams and 3 district teams. It was just a position that suited me perfectly much like TE/OLB fit me in football.

Only downsides were a healthy obsession with Crash Davis that got my thrown out of a game and it didn't help my already shitty knees much but honestly if stumbled across a genie one of my wishes would be to be MLB catcher over any other sport or position. Just a unique position in sports and if you're good everyone from the umps to the opponents to your teammates respect you and will follow your lead. You're pretty much the equivalent to a QB and thats a powerful feeling and a bit of an ego trip.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:11 AM   #39
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I was chubby in elementary school, so I got typecast as a catcher. I actually got to be halfway decent, even though I never really had much of an arm. The things I remember are the constant bruises that I had all over my arms and how miserably hot it can get in that gear. Standing out in the sun waiting on some asshole 5th grader to throw strikes is enough of a pain in the ass without wearing 10 pounds of poorly breathing body armor.

I thinned out a ton in junior high, but still played a lot of catcher in the summers. Never played it in high school, though. The aforementioned ninny arm got me relegated to second base for my entire high school career.

My knees pop and crack like crazy, especially in the mornings, but who knows how much of that can be attributed to 6 or 7 summers' worth of squatting behind a plate. I don't seem to have any structural issues, though, so that's good.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:12 AM   #40
Chest Rockwell Chest Rockwell is offline
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Originally Posted by rockymtnchief View Post
I played catcher from 9 to 23 in baseball and then 5 more years in fast pitch softball. I was actually going to be assigned to a AA team somewhere in New York when it was decided I wasn't big enough to catch at that level. Coaches tried to convert me into a an outfielder. I was aweful. I could chase down pop flies, but line drives directly at me, froze me in my tracks.
That's pretty much my career path as well, but I was probably actually a better outfielder than a catcher. I ended up playing everything from jr high legion ball to college. I liked catching and outfield the most, so it sorta worked out for me. Line drives can be hard to judge. I was sort of lucky that tracking balls just came naturally to me. I don't know what it is, but I always had the ability to get a good jump on the ball. It's like I could just tell where it was going pretty much as soon as it came off the bat. Which was a blessing, because I'm slow as ****.

I have no idea how they actually let me catch my first couple of years of college. When I graduated high school I weight about a buck thirty-five. And I'm 6' tall. I'm a definite ectomorph. I still go between 155-165 depending on how much training I'm doing (I finally figured out I was made for endurance sports about 5 years ago). They put me on about a 10,000 calorie a day diet (I have no idea what the actual specs were, I just remember eating a sht ton and drinking protein shakes every 2 hours) and got me up to around 2 bills. Then promptly moved me to the outfield. .

No worries though, it probably extended my career (I feel like I could have caught on as a catcher as well, but being able to play any outfield position, despite my lack of speed, definitely meant there were more roster spots available to me. I also think the ability to be an "emergency" catcher if needed helped.) and definitely saved me knee issues.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:14 AM   #41
BigMeatballDave BigMeatballDave is offline
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I played it.

Very demanding position, hard on the knees
So, biting the pillow isn't helpful?
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:38 AM   #42
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catcher isn't a position you choose, it's something you're born doing.
WRONG

People choose to be catchers and they choose to face the consequences that being a catcher brings.

Show me some evidence that people are born catchers. You are going to claim some kind of "catcher gene" exists. Well guess what? The "catcher gene" theory has been debunked over and over in peer reviewed studies.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:38 AM   #43
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I caught for 9 years in summer softball, and it definitely leads to knee problems.
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:39 AM   #44
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I played it.

Very demanding position, hard on the knees and
tee hee hee you said hard on
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Old 06-28-2013, 07:46 AM   #45
BigMeatballDave BigMeatballDave is offline
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Originally Posted by loochy View Post
WRONG

People choose to be catchers and they choose to face the consequences that being a catcher brings.

Show me some evidence that people are born catchers. You are going to claim some kind of "catcher gene" exists. Well guess what? The "catcher gene" theory has been debunked over and over in peer reviewed studies.
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