Catcher: How the Man Behind the Plate Became an American Folk Hero

Overview

Catcher will change the way you think about baseball, heroism, and-most especially-the man behind the plate. Baseball's indefatigable researcher and brilliant chronicler, Peter Morris, explores the evolution of the catcher from the 1870s-when the position became the ultimate example of the American ideal of the rugged individualist-to the early 1900s. He has produced a lively and original history filled with generous use of newspaper accounts and stirring profiles of long-forgotten players who were daring, ...

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Catcher: The Evolution of an American Folk Hero

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Overview

Catcher will change the way you think about baseball, heroism, and-most especially-the man behind the plate. Baseball's indefatigable researcher and brilliant chronicler, Peter Morris, explores the evolution of the catcher from the 1870s-when the position became the ultimate example of the American ideal of the rugged individualist-to the early 1900s. He has produced a lively and original history filled with generous use of newspaper accounts and stirring profiles of long-forgotten players who were daring, deranged, or both.

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Editorial Reviews

History News Network
Nobody is better at recapturing how and why Americans played baseball.
Christianity Today
[Morris] gives us a sense of how changes on the baseball field reflected changes in America.
Publishers Weekly

Morris (But Didn't We Have Fun?) offers a thorough look at the evolution of the catcher from the 1870s-when the position "became the ultimate example of the American ideal of the rugged individualist"-to the early 1900s. Indeed, the position was not for the timid. Early catchers dealt with pitches and foul tips without the benefit of today's fancy protection, just a pair of gnarled hands and tons of grit. However, as baseball's rules changed and equipment such as chest protectors and mitts became part of the catcher's uniform, public opinion plummeted. Additional changes in the game saw the catcher valued again in the early 20th century, this time for his intelligence as he "didn't need to endure pain to become a hero." Morris's superlative research and keen observation never leads to dry or academic writing. He has produced a fascinating merger of social and baseball history, taking an almost irrelevant subject and filling it with color-thanks to the generous use of old newspaper accounts-and stirring profiles of long-forgotten players who were daring, deranged or both. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
American Profile
You don't have to be a baseball nut to find yourself enlightened, engaged and entertained with almost every turn of the page.
—Neil Pond
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566638708
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 10/16/2010
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 941,549
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Morris's most recent book is But Didn't We Have Fun?, a widely praised informal history of the early days of baseball before it turned professional. His A Game of Inches, a compendium of baseball's innovations, was called "magisterial" by the Boston Globe and was the first book ever to win both the Seymour Medal and the Casey Award as the best baseball book of the year. A former national and international Scrabble champion, Mr. Morris lives in Haslett, Michigan.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction: A Generation in Search of a Hero 3

1 In the Beginning 27

2 The Catcher as Tough Guy 35

3 The Catcher as Indispensable 59

4 The Catcher as One in a Million 69

5 The Catcher as the Man in Disguise 87

6 The Breaking Point 105

7 Protecting the Catcher's Face (But Bruising His Ego) 114

8 "A Lot of Fools in the Crowd Laugh at Him" 135

9 The Thinking-Man Catcher 158

10 The Catcher as Desperado 172

11 Harry Decker, the "Don Juan of Shaven Head" 189

12 The 1890s: "An Era When Most of the Catchers Were Pot-Bellied and Couldn't Get Out of Their Own Way" 208

13 "The Last of the Old Guard of Ball Players" 229

14 A New Pitch and a New Crisis 237

15 An Enduring New Model 249

16 The Catcher's Legacy 278

Afterword: The Man the Hall of Fame Forgot 285

Appendices 291

Notes 295

Selected Bibliography 363

Index 371

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