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It seems that there is a shortage of good catchers at all levels these days?  Why?

It's evident at the MLB level currently, but what is stopping kids at the college, high school and youth levels from wanting to catch?


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It's a brutal position and anyone who sits behind the plate knows this.  It gets extremely hot in the summer months.  Getting hit by a foul ball does not exactly feel good.  Everyone blames the catcher for any balls going to the backstop.  It's always the catcher's fault.  What most people do not realize is when a catcher blocks the ball in the dirt, there is always the chance of the ball bouncing off the gear and deflecting away where a run scores.  The catcher does the best he could but most of the time, the situation is out of his control.  Not many people want to constantly be yelled at for doing a bad job.

 

On that note, there is no better position than catcher.  You are involved in every play.  If someone tells me I am not doing a good job, I hand them the gear and ask them to show me how to be a better catcher.  This always shuts them up.

 

I agree and the pitcher gets all the glory.

  

In today's day and age I think there are quite a few fathers who say "No, you don't want to catch Johnny. It's hot with all that equipment on, your body gets battered, blah blah blah." Terrible mistake on their part. Good catchers are always in demand!
I agree with the comments above.  Not many head coaches can teach the fundamentals of catching.  I went to a camp at Florida State University and watched for five days Coach Martin Jr., instruct the catchers.  It was fascinating to see what he put the catchers through each day.  I have seen Mike Heath (ex-Yankee) teach catchers at the High School level but not many have the experience, knowledge or ability to teach the position.  I could not believe all the drills, fundamentals and nuances of the position.  It is a brutal position, especially in the heat of Florida.  It is not only the hardest position on the field but it is the one that requires the most practice and determination.  Not to mention, your suppose to be a good hitter and have a great arm.  Great arms pitch, play SS or are in right field.  Remember - they throw different. 

Too much work, too little pay! Seriously work ethic and lack of glory at the position. A catcher must be a compatriot and that takes character. A catcher must be a leader, such as a quarterback, not enough glory. A catcher must have a strong arm. Players with strong arms are either in demand at SS or P, more glory less blame. Catching takes good technique. There are few coaches out there that show proper footwork, exchange, release, blocking, framing, etc. But there is no better position on the field if you want to be involved on every play and help lead your team to victory.

I can't speak for anyone but myself. I DO give catchers LOTS of glory. I want them to basically be my field general and not be bashful while doing so. I want them to be my leader out there in the all-important part of the game...DEFENSE! Some have mentioned that they consider the catcher's position to be a non-glory one. But not on my watch! I think a good catcher should be glorified. They have the field in front of them, they direct traffic, they handle my pitchers, etc. I don't care if you love or hate the Red Sox but do you know how the Red Sox pitchers for years have felt about Jason Varitek? They will not let him out of their sites! Like I said, a good catcher deserves much glory, in my opinion.
Bill, what is the reasons that you feel there is a lack of catching these days? Just curious.

I think there is a perception among kids and parents that catching is not worth the effort it takes to play the position well. I think these same kids and parents are influenced when they see Bryce Harper moved to the OF because that is a "faster track to the big leagues".

Parents often feel a kid will suffer offensively and not get noticed.

Fear of injury is another reason but I don't agree with this at all.

Many parents and coaches I talk with feel that a good athlete plays SS or CF, the strong arm player pitches..  and that is the smartest approach. I'm not sure I disagree entirely, but the strong armed athlete could be an amazing catcher with the right guidance. Catching takes a special skill set, one that needs to be developed.  You can stick a player at most other positions on the field and they will get by defensively for the most part in youth baseball.  Behind the plate you need a different level of skill and toughness.

 

The lack of catching part comes from a lack of experience in many cases.  You have kids who reluctantly move to catcher to fill a need and make a roster, but they lack experience and training to play the position.  Watching high school and college games, a good catcher stands out quite a bit today because so many of his counterparts at the position are not playing it well.

 

Now I understand where you are coming from. 

The reason Bryce Harper was moved to RF is because he is fast and can run down fly balls and for longevity, saving those fast legs for more years potentially. Playing a corner position in the outfield is less demanding and will add time to a player.  It really had nothing to do with a quicker route to the Big Leagues. In fact, being a really good catcher is usually the fastest route to the Big Leagues.There have been a bunch of big named catchers that switched to other positions to save the legs and for longevity. Cap Anson, Johnny Bench played about 500 games at other positions, Craig Biggio moved to 2nd after being a Gold Glove catcher, Carlos Delgado was originally a catcher, Brian Downing, Jimmy Foxx, Scott Hatteberg, Orlando Merced, Kieth Morland, Dale Murphy,BJ Surhoff, Mike Sweeny, Todd Zeile to name the ones most here would still remember. I think LOL. BTW, a few others SHOULD have moved to other positions because they were great hitters that happened to play the catching position.

 

Remember, being a catcher takes a special individual, not everyone can just get back there and do the job without thinking of the potential hazards of the trade and then again shake those off when a runner tkes you out at home or a ball in the dirt bounces under his cup. It takes a special cat. Hence the reason they have always called the catching position "The Tools Of Ignorance"

Seeing what happened to Joe Mauer does not help.  I read too often that when an organization has a good young catcher who is a good hitter, they move him to help "protect" him.

 

Heck, if I were young (again) and had size and talent, I would want to catch.  If you are good, you will get noticed - not to mention no other position has as much action.

Maybe part of it at higher levels is while most non-pitchers are off in the cages hitting, the catchers are squatting there catching pitcher after pitcher while the coaches are working with the pitchers.  The catchers are continually and mindlessly just catching the ball.  

Another problem I see is many coaches don't let catchers call the game, even in higher college levels.  In the minors they do, but so many college coaches are control-freaks, they call every single pitch from the dugout.  How much fun is that?  

There's a lot to the position, from wearing all the gear, getting beat up, knowing the pitchers, being able to throw well, field well, call a game.  Or if you're a great and smart athlete, you can instead pitch and play shortstop.  Which sounds like the better option then?

I am fortunate to be able to say that my youngest (6 1/2 years old) is an exceptional catcher who loves being behind the plate.  He has made other teams' coaches and parents take notice of his ability to throw off the mask and make plays on foul pops and throw runners out at first on dribblers.  He is starting to play kid pitch this fall and his coaches are thrilled to have a receiver behind the plate who can actually catch a ball that is out of the strike zone.

He thrives behind the plate, gets angry when the coach rests him for an inning and gets frustrated when a teammate fails to make a throw to the plate when a runner is coming home.

I don't have to tell him how important the position is, but you really do need to have the drive to want to play it and continue to play it.  You also don't find quality training for the younger players.  We were lucky to find a coach who had played catcher and was able to teach the fundamentals.

 

 

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