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01-03-2004, 09:39 AM
Posted By: <b>Julie Vognar</b><p>(been looking at Patrick's T3 Meyers--)<BR><BR>I don't know who the first catcher to squat behind the plate was, but all the pictures on cards and photos of dead ball era catchers show them "bent slightly" a few feet--not many--behind the batter. HOW COULD THEY CATCH (LEGAL!)SPITBALLS OR MATTY'S "FADEAWAY"? A spitball (or other substance ball--soap, vasaline, etc.) often acts like a wicked curve, falling off the table. A "slightly bent" catcher would, I should think, fall on his nose or his behind trying to catch one of those!<BR><BR>I started thinking about the kinds of balls modern pitchers miss--the wild pitch high balls, or wild pitch way outside balls; but these are much fewer than those he can reach, obviously.<BR><BR>So did dead ball era catchers miss a lot more balls than modeern ones? Or did the pitchers--in spite of the legal spitball- tend to "groove" the ball more?<BR><BR>I know until 1887, the batter could call for "a high one," or "a low one," which would give the catcher time to prepare--if the pitcher delivered as promised!<BR>But not during the dead ball era.<BR>Patrick? And how about answering my questions about your card!

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01-05-2004, 01:10 AM
Posted By: <b>Brian H</b><p>I think that there were probably more past balls/wild pitches in that era than today (this could be looked up); and<BR><BR>I know that the great Pitchers of the dead ball (pre-1920) era didn't bear down except when they had to. Matty called this "pitching in the pinch". My guess is that the relative lack of situations where the Pitchers had to "bear down" probably made things a bit easier for the Catchers and may have off-set the difficulties posed by the soiled baseballs and the spitballs for the catchers.<BR><BR>This however accounts only for some of the problems for dead-ball era catchers that Julie identifies -- hopefully someone else can solve them now that I have put this thread back on top. <img src="/images/happy.gif" height=14 width=14><BR><BR>

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01-05-2004, 01:46 AM
Posted By: <b>Lee Behrens</b><p>Is it possible that there was a tendancy for calling a "high" strike in this era? If this is the case that would help accoount for the more upright stance.<BR><BR>My theory<BR><BR>Lee

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01-05-2004, 02:12 AM
Posted By: <b>jay behrens</b><p>Strike zone, by the book, is from the letters to the knees. As eevryone knows, you always hear complaints about the lack of umps calling a high strike these days. <BR><BR>My guess, just from seeing lots of footage from from the deadball era, is that the majority of balls high in the strike zone. Many players back then choked up on the bat, and as big as those bats were, this is not conducive to swinging at low balls, but helps a lot with higher pitches.<BR><BR>I've also seen game footage of MAtty and Walter Johnson, and nothing I saw there would strike fear into the hearts of hitters today as far as speed is concerned. This is a big reason why pitchers tend to burn out earlier today, they are always throwing as hard as they can. Back then, as someone else pointed out, they only 'pitched in a pinch' when needed.<BR><BR>Jay

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01-05-2004, 02:13 AM
Posted By: <b>john(z28jd)</b><p>Buck Ewing was good for a PB every other game.Chief Zimmer a pretty decent 19th century(mainly) catcher averaged a passed ball approx. every 4 games caught.Roger Bresnahan who was a pretty good defensive catcher averaged a passed ball every 7 games during his career.Yogi Berra,good for a sprint to the backstop every 22 games.Carlton Fisk,a very good modern catcher averaged one every 18 games<BR><BR><BR>Ed Whiting holds the record for passed balls with 105 for Baltimore of the American Association in 1882.He averaged 3 passed balls every 2 games over his career<BR><BR>In a book written by Connie Mack in 1903 he mentions that the catcher should stand upright to be able to catch the ball easier at any height.He wrote this because alot of the newer catchers were crouching lower to the ground as opposed to almost 99% of 19th century catchers who were almost standing upright.He specifically says "catchers should refrain from crouching to the ground"

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01-05-2004, 09:25 AM
Posted By: <b>Julie</b><p>So the "thinking man's catcher" (Ewing) threw a PB every 2 games! Wow. I guess Yogi should be the modern standard-- each 22 games.<BR><BR>The earliest photo I have of a catcher squatting is--I think-- Cochrine in about 1923 (now somebody will say that Cochrine didn't start playing in the majors till 29 or 30!). This includes the entire T202 set, which I once owned, and have collected again all but 37 of (for anyone who doesn't know, each card of the set, 1912, has a black and white action photo between two color lithographs).

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01-05-2004, 09:34 AM
Posted By: <b>Julie</b><p>I probably would, like Mack, think that the standing<BR>position was more flexable. And perhaps, if, as is suggested. the strike zone was interpreted as high, it might just BE so.<BR><BR>Perhaps the many PBs of the 19th century are partly due to playing on bad surfaces, with few baseballs per game, and the less comfortable height of the pitcher's mound, which has risen considerably.<BR>

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01-05-2004, 01:26 PM
Posted By: <b>TBob</b><p>No wonder there were so many strikeouts in the dead ball era from fireball pitchers with a strike zone which extended from the knees to almost the shoulders. Anyone who has played baseball competitively knows how hard it is to get around on a 85-90 mile an hour fastball up around the shoulders. <BR>One thing to consider when judging the standup position of the catchers was the lack of a mask. Who in their right mind would want to squat and face the possibility of a foul tip in the teeth without the benefit of the mask's bars? I remember in high school catching pitchers in the gym over the winter where we used a string stretched across the gym's width at shoulder and knee level, then two more strings tied down to approximate the width of the plate. I was catching a submariner and had a ball come up and in and barely nick the stretched twine at just the right angle to barely deflect it with the result I caught a deflection in the eye. I used to have a reputation as pretty fearless behind the plate but for several weeks I noticed a slight twitch in that eye whenever a pitched ball came near home plate. It was maddening. I can certainly commiserate with those old time backstoppers!

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01-05-2004, 08:35 PM
Posted By: <b>Julie</b><p>Of COURSE--the early catchers wore no masks--but they must have started fairly soon; Kleinow is wearing one in his T206 card. Isn't Ewing wearing one in the cover of Harper's woodcut in 1889--or did I imagine it?<BR><BR>Hockey goalies have all been allowed to "fall on their knees, or stand on their heads, if they think they can stop the puck better that way.." since February, 1918. But masks were not generally worn till the '70s, and not madatory till '78. The same reasons were given for not wearing masks that the early baseball players used to discourage other players from improving their equpment--you're a coward if you need gloves, etc. Jacques Plante, one of the greastest goalies, who invented and insisted on wearing the first really practical mask in the early sixtes said: "Would you think I was brave if I jumped out of a plane without a parachute?" when people (still!) questioned his courage.

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01-07-2004, 11:11 AM
Posted By: <b>runscott</b><p>"The catcher has two positions. The first is used before the ball is pitched and its main purpose is to exchange signals with as much secrecy as possible. In this crouch well down with the feet together and hold the mitt in the angle formed by your body and thighs..."<BR><BR>"The second position is the one taken as soon as your signal has been understood and accepted. Stand up with the body leaning forward and the glove and ungloved hand extended toward the pitcher...The feet should be spread far enough apart to give you a firm stand but do not sprawl out to such an extent as to prevent your jumping to either side or into the air with greatest amount of speed. From this position you can handle wide pitches to either side of the plate or make a jump for a high-thrown ball. It will also get you started fast in getting foul flies. In throwing to base you can step out to either side with ease and send the ball down to the base with the least amount of delay."

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01-07-2004, 04:54 PM
Posted By: <b>Julie</b><p>when some catcher realized he could do both the delivering of signals and catch the ball best from a squat!

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01-07-2004, 06:13 PM
Posted By: <b>jay behrens</b><p>I am sure catchers everywhere today, with their aching knees, really love the guy that started this trend.<BR><BR>Jay

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01-07-2004, 10:01 PM
Posted By: <b>John(z28jd)</b><p>Jason Varitek stands up to catch the ball on pitches he intentionally wants to be high.I think its easier for the umpire to see from behind the catcher when the catcher squats