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.
Catcher: The Evolution of an American Folk Heroby Peter Morris
Today the baseball catcher is a familiar but uninspiring figure. Decked out in the so-called tools of ignorance, he stolidly goes about his duty without attracting much attention. But it wasn't always that way, as Peter Morris shows in this lively and original study. In baseball's early days, catchers stood a safe distance behind the batter. Then the introduction of… See more details below
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Today the baseball catcher is a familiar but uninspiring figure. Decked out in the so-called tools of ignorance, he stolidly goes about his duty without attracting much attention. But it wasn't always that way, as Peter Morris shows in this lively and original study. In baseball's early days, catchers stood a safe distance behind the batter. Then the introduction of the curveball in the 1870s led them to move up directly behind home plate, even though they still wore no gloves or protective equipment. Extraordinary courage became the catcher's most notable requirement, but the new positioning also demanded that the catcher have lightning-fast reflexes, great hands, and a cannon for a throwing arm.
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