Catcher

Catcher is a position for a baseball or softball player. When a batter takes his turn to hit, the catcher crouches behind home plate, in front of the (home) umpire, and receives the ball from the pitcher. This is a catcher's primary duty, but he is also called upon to master many other skills in order to field his position well. The role of the catcher is similar to that of the wicket-keeper in cricket.

Positioned behind home plate, the catcher can see the whole field; therefore, he is in the best position to direct and lead the other players in a defensive play. The catcher typically calls for pitches by means of hand signals; therefore, he/she must be aware of the pitcher's mechanics and strengths, as well as the batter's tendencies and weaknesses. Foul tips, bouncing balls in the dirt, and contact with runners during plays at the plate are all part of the catcher's job, so protective equipment must be worn. This includes a mask, chest and throat protectors, shin guards, and an extra-thick glove.

Because the position requires a comprehensive understanding of the game's strategies, the pool of former catchers yields a disproportionate number of Major and Minor-League managers, including such prominent examples as Connie Mack, Steve O'Neill, Al Lopez, Yogi Berra, Mike Scioscia, and Joe Torre. The physical and mental strain of being involved on every defensive play can wear catchers down over a long season, and can have a negative effect on their offensive output.

Due to catching's strategic defensive importance, if a catcher has exceptional defensive skills, teams are often willing to overlook their relative offensive weaknesses. A knowledgeable catcher's ability to work with the pitcher, via pitch selection and location, can diminish the effectiveness of the opposing team's offense. Many great defensive catchers toiled in relative anonymity, because they did not produce large offensive numbers. Notable examples of light-hitting, defensive specialists were; Ray Schalk, Jim Hegan, Jim Sundberg and Brad Ausmus. Schalk's career batting average of .253 is the lowest of any position player in the Baseball Hall of Fame. That he was selected for enshrinement in 1955 was largely a tribute to his outstanding defensive skills. Catchers are often able to play first base and less commonly third base.

In the numbering system used to record baseball plays, the catcher is assigned the number '2'. (See Baseball scorekeeping.)

Read more about CatcherHistory and Progression of The Position, Catching Pitches, Calling The Game, Throwing, Blocking Balls in The Dirt, Defensive Plays, Personal Catcher, Injury, Equipment, Hall-of-fame Catchers

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