Catchers - A Very Unique Person!

I had a catcher on a club that I was with that was unique in many ways. His sense of humor combined with his not-so-shy antics made for a very interesting season, after season, after season. Here’s some of the things that I remember.

He’d point to the scoreboard and say …”hey look, that’s jello spelled backwards!” Over half the dugout would stare at the scoreboard trying to spell every word, number, and punctuation to see what the heck could be spelled backwards as jello.

After a miserable inning by one of our pitchers, he’d walk over to the guy, start taking off his catcher’s gear and pile the stuff in front of him and say, “here… you try it for a while!”

He’d stare at a coach’s game sheet stuck on the dugout wall, turn around in disgust and say at the top of his voice…” Oh great… we’re out of ketchup again!” It was just a quirky thing – but he was asked not to repeat the antics again. It seemed that some of the fielders would be starting into space during the game trying to figure out exactly what the guy meant.

When a pitcher of ours made a facial expression and muttered something in the direction of the home plate umpire after a call that he wasn’t too thrilled about, this guy would immediately defuse the situation by standing up – turning to the plate umpire and say …” he said… “do you want fries with that?”

During one game we went through six pitchers and lost badly. While the rotation was showering, he replaced all their towels with paper napkins. One by one they came out of the shower, found the napkins in place of their towels and said, “ I can’t use this!”. Upon which he’d say…” now you know how I felt.”

During a game we were five runs down, our catcher went into his equipment bag and pull out an issue of Sports Illustrated – swimsuit edition. Then he’d open to the center of the magazine and unfold a centerfold that only he could see. He then placed the magazine down and disappears into the dugout hallway leading to the locker room. One by one the guys in the dugout couldn’t stand the suspense any more – so they’d mosey over to the magazine, open to the centerfold and let it unfurl. There was a blank piece of paper, the full length of the centerfold that said…” WE’RE LOSING KNUCKLEHEADS – PAY ATTENTION TO THE GAME!!”

We had a guy who liked to party – a lot. During a road trip, he came in at four in the morning and was penciled in for a game that afternoon. Still reeking of sour mash, he did so–so in the bullpen, just squeaked by during his first inning, sat down in the dugout only to be greeted by our catcher with the following: “hey look… it’s trick-or-treat ….we’ve got a guy who’s dressed up as a ballplayer”. … “does your mommy know you’re out so late?” That name “trick-or-treat” struck with that pitcher all through his stint with our club.

There was one umpire on our circuit that our catcher just didn’t get along with. Maybe it was just personalities, maybe it was something that happened years ago. …. who knows. At the beginning of one game, the two met at the plate, our catcher took off his mask and extended his hand and shook hands with the umpire and offered his apologies for any remarks he may have said in the past regarding the umpire’s work. The plate ump was visually taken back by the unexpected behavior. So, after the first pitch – a ball called, our guy tosses the ball back, turns around and takes his mask off and offers his apologies for any remarks regarding the umpires work. Ball two is called - our guy tosses the ball back, turns around and takes his mask off and offers his apologies for any remarks regarding the umpires work. Ball three is called - our guy tosses the ball back, turns around and takes his mask off and offers his apologies for any remarks regarding the umpires work. The umpire calls time – confronts our catcher with his antics, upon which our guy tells the ump that his shoe is untied. The ump – with all is chest armor, has to bend down noticeably to check only to find out his shoes were just fine. “what’s the big deal with my shoes?” Our guy says he had a bet with the sports writers in the press booth that he could get the ump to bow to him at home plate. “YYYYYEEERRRRR OUT OF HERE!!!”

Coach B.

Coach you can only expect it. Think really hard about what a catcher does. He puts himself infront of a ball that the pitcher is either trying to throw as hard as he can or is trying to make move as much as he can. Then to complicate things more he is near a guy who is trying to hit it as hard as he can. A screw must be loose to do that.

My own catcher story, we play indoors at a sports facility and its live hitting and pitching but just in a cage and scoring points on where on the net you hit it. Well our 2 catchers weren’t there and the 3rd didn’t have a cup, but of course I always protect my nads and volunteered to catch. I have caught a couple of times in practice becuase of that same reason. Well pass balls advance runners and you can call a steal forcing the catcher to hit a small box. I think the scorer flet so bad for me he stopped advancing on pass balls :smiley: . Catching is so stupid and I hate it. Of course the other team knew I wasn’t a catcher when I let every ball in the turf go to the back of the net. They stole twice and the one time it fouled lucky me, the next I just missed the center, and the third time we had a strike him out and I nailed the center of the box and walked out smiling.

I told my coach I agreed to retire from catching on that last note.

Hahahaha, another great story, Coach.

Yes indeed—catchers are really something else. And some of them can actually catch!
Now, one of the catcher’s most important functions is handling the pitchers. He has to know them, to know which one just needs a steadying hand when he gets into a jam and which one often needs a good goosing to get him going. Yogi Berra was one of the very best at this; there were times when he had to get Vic Raschi riled up in order to get him going on the mound, and so during warmups he would yell at the Springfield Rifle, “Come ON, Onionhead—is that as hard as you can throw it?” Most of the time it worked. On the other hand, he hardly said anything to Ed Lopat; he’d just settle in behind the plate and catch him, and time and again he said that he could catch Lopat with a Kleenex. Yeah. Just tell that to the batters who most of the time couldn’t hit the guy to save themselves.
And speaking of pitchers who sometimes play catcher, the aforementioned Lopat would often get behind the plate and catch for me when he wanted to see what my stuff was doing, how I was throwing it. And he wasn’t half bad as a catcher, believe me. Now, most pitching coaches will stand behind the mound and observe the pitcher, but Steady Eddie felt he could get a better idea of what was going on from behind the plate. So he would get a catcher’s mitt from the clubhouse—there usually were a couple of them lying around—and set himself either at a marker representing home plate if we were working outside the Stadium, or behind the plate if we were working at an unused field near the ball park. And I would throw to him for ten, fifteen minutes, and he would see what I was doing with my release point, how I was using the crossfire, whether my knuckle-curve was behaving itself—various aspects of my pitching.
And we would talk about it. Sometimes he had a suggestion as to what I could do to be more effective with one pitch or another. He knew I didn’t have a fast ball—at least, not until the time I told him about my “whoops” pitch and after catching me for some nine or ten of those he told me I had a fast ball! But we concentrated on my arsenal of snake-jazz, for the most part, and we talked a lot about strategic pitching—his specialty—and how I could make the most of it. Yes—some pitchers can do that. :slight_smile: 8)