Left Handed Catcher

< Lefty Behind the Dish

I have always had a lot of admiration for catchers.  It may have a lot to do with the fact that I pitched for most of my years playing.  I saw first hand the dedication it takes to be a good catcher.  Besides the obvious trait of being physically tough, catchers have to be mentally tough.  They have to be smart and a quarterback on the field.  Higher up in baseball, there are two sets of players, pitchers and position players.  Different beings coming together to form a team.  They are usually separated during practice.  Basically, they have different objectives.  Pitchers stick with pitchers and position players do the same on and off the field.   But the one position player a pitcher has a lot of time with is his catcher.  When pitching, your catcher is your on the field coach.  “Get your arm up!”  Bend your back!”  Stay with it!”  “You got this guy!”  Your catcher is also your therapist, your cheerleader and hopefully one of the major reasons for your success.  It is no wonder that a lot of MLB managers were catchers.  My son, Lefty has always had a desire to catch.  He has done a really good job so far in the few years he has been catching.  He has a lot of the traits I mentioned.  BUT, he is LEFT HANDED (play game show losing jingle in your head).  The big taboo in baseball…a left handed catcher.  Why is that?  I know the game flows counterclockwise, I know making the throw to third base would be across the body, I know a tag at the plate would require sweeping from right to left.  But, I find it odd that there has not been a breakout player to beat the odds.

Do you know there have only been 30 left-handed throwing players to catch at least 1 inning?  If you count guys who caught 100 or more games in a career, you are down to 5.  If you count a minimum of 800 games caught, you have one and that is Jack Clements.  Benny Distefano was the last (to date) left-handed-throwing player to ever catch a major league game.  He caught in three separate games for the Pirates in 1989.

The image is not reversed: Benny Distefano was a left-handed catcher in the majors 20 years ago. No lefty has played the position since.
 

Left-Handed and Left Out

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/16/sports/baseball/16catcher.html

My son has recently taken more notice to the comments from adults when he mentions he likes to catch.  Phrases like, “but you’re a lefty” and “well, enjoy it while you can at this age”.  I recently showed Lefty the above article and began to talk to him about the exclusion of left-handed catchers in baseball.  It actually was a really tough conversation for me.  Maybe I am stuck in that baseball mindset and believe it can not be done.  But, Lefty being Lefty, and in true catcher grit said to me, “Well Dad, I guess I will be the first to do so.”  I loved that attitude.  I said, I absolutely believe you can be.

 

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