He’s perched behind the batter, glove open. He’s ready for the pitch, but he has to be ready for anything: blocking a wild pitch, tracking a foul pop, brassing his body for the sting of a foul tip, or springing to throw out the base-stealer at second. Catchers hold a unique spot in the game of baseball. Their gear, their physical fielding position, and their ability to control the game are shared by no one else on the field. Their uniqueness makes collecting baseball cards of catchers a great idea. There are many options open to a catcher baseball card collector. For brevity’s sake, here are the three of the simplest options:
Action scenes always make for an interesting card, especially for catchers. One of my favorites is the exciting 1983 Topps card of Gary Carter flipping off his mask while chasing a ball in play. However, possibly the king of catcher action shots is the 1971 Topps beauty of Thurman Munson tagging an Oakland A’s player sliding in at home while dust swirls around them both. A wonderful card! Topps began issuing more action shots beginning with their 1971 set. A collector interested in action shots should begin with the 1971 Topps set and work forward.
Another way to collect baseball cards of catcher is to collect cards of catcher’s in their gear throughout history. This makes for an expensive hobby detour, but it’s also the most interesting. During baseball’s early days, catchers using protective gear were dismissed as sissies who couldn’t take the broken phalanges, bruised shins and face welts caused by foul tips. During the late 19th to early 20th century, gear became standard for catchers. Cigarette baseball cards from the period depict this transition. The tiny photographs on the Old Judge baseball cards show the medieval gear worn by catcher pioneers. Collectors will note the measly gloves on the early catchers’ hands. Over-sized catcher gloves show up in later cards, especially in the 1910 – 1911 Obak tobacco cards. More modern-looking catchers’ gear shows up in cards starting around the 1930s with the Goudey and Batter-Up sets. Discernible differences in gear can even show up between cards of all-time great Yogi Berra and current star Buster Posey. Protective gear continues to evolve, and following the transitions through baseball cards is an interesting hobby.
Collecting catching record holders is always a fun collecting route. Check out the Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers website for all sorts of ideas. The site’s writers created their own list of greatest catchers of all time. Many names will stick out to most collectors, but others, like Johnny Kling from the 1907 World Series champion Cubs are more obscure. The mixture of the famous and not so famous makes for a great baseball card collecting list. A collector can even come up with his or her own list based on the stats and biographies collected at the Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers. It is a tremendous source for catcher history which makes it a must-bookmark website for catcher baseball card collectors.
Catchers are an instantly recognizable icon of the game of baseball. Whatever route a collector takes with collecting catcher baseball cards, one can not go wrong.