Watching a young ballplayer strap on the tools of ignorance (catching gear) for the first time can be somewhat comical.
Pads and straps seem to come from every angle completely encompassing the entire body of a young person. The helmet, seeming so large that it could tip the young player over with just a little nudge from behind. The waddle out to home plate with this extra-large glove dangling off their little fingers. It is a sight to behold and one of the true joys of watching youth baseball.
But then when you see a young catcher dripping with sweat, dirt covering their entire exterior uniform drop down and block a ball with a runner on third to save a run in the sixth inning, it is a beautiful transformation.
Catchers are not born – catchers are made and you have to want to be a catcher to become one. You cannot simply put on the gear and suddenly transform yourself into a catcher.
You quite simply have to love catching to become a catcher. You have to want to catch more than any other part of the game in order to become a catcher because catching is quite simply the most difficult position on the field. Below is a short list of requirements needed to become a good catcher.
- You will never be praised as much as you should be
- You will almost be forgotten until you mess up.
- The pitcher’s success is greatly determined by you, but the pitcher will get the credit if the pitcher does well and you often times will be blamed if a pitcher does not succeed.
- Your offense will be affected in a negative way because you must give so much energy towards your defense.
- You have to want your pitcher to be great.
- You have to treat each pitcher differently to find out what makes them tick and excel.
- You have to get to know every pitcher and what their strengths, weaknesses and fears might be.
- You have to know every sign for every position.
- You have to communicate and in many cases become friends with umpires.
- You have to be the middle man between coaches and umpires.
- You have to wear ten pounds of gear.
- Your body will hurt.
- You will get bruised, battered, and bloody.
- You will catch more bullpens than you can possible imagine
- Your knees and legs will hurt almost all of the time
If the above list did not scare you then welcome to the first stage of becoming a catcher. To become a catcher is to enter a brotherhood unlike any in baseball.
- You will become a coach on the field.
- You get to be involved in almost every play.
- You get to see the game differently from every other position.
- You will understand the game on a completely higher level.
- You get to play in the dirt.
- You get the biggest bag on the team
I wish you the best of luck if you decide to become a catcher. Enjoy it. Enjoy all the elements of catching. Catching is not for everyone. Only a few get to become catchers.