The Golden Age of Baseball Cards™

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Vintage Baseball Card Blog

Pitchers and Catchers Report

March 4, 2011

by William Szczepanek

1964 Topps #200 Sandy Koufax1964 Topps #088 John RoseboroSpring training began a couple of weeks ago when pitchers and catchers reported to camp before the other players. The idea of batterymates raised an issue in my mind.  First, where does the term come from  and second, when you think of great pitchers do you also think of who was their regular catcher?

It seems logical that the term would come from the military. Artillery batteries were used in the Civil war and other wars at the time baseball was just getting started, and the firepower of the pitcher is a good comparison to artillery fire. The fact that both the pitcher and catcher have to work together the term "mate" seems appropriate of the time.

1970 Topps #220-Steve Carlton1967 Topps #485 Tim McCcarverIn many cases when you think a great pitcher  - a catcher's name will come to mind. In researching some Hall of Fame pitchers from the Golden Age we see that our assumptions are usually correct, but not always.

For instance, when we think of Sandy Koufax, the first catcher to come to mind is Johnny Roseboro.  In fact Roseboro caught 208 games for Koufax,. The race for the distant second place catcher was close with 21 games going to Jeff Torborg, 20 to Doug Camilli, 19 to Norm Sherry and 18 to Roy Campanella and Joe Pignatano.

How about Steve Carlton?  His catcher for 228 games was Tim McCarver, with 146 games going to Bob Boone.

1974 Topps #007 Jim Hunter1974 Topps #340 Thurman Munson1969 Topps #640 Fergie Jenkins1069 Topps #347 Randy HundleyJim Catfish Hunter was caught by Thurman Munson for 109 games and Dave Duncan for 91 even though Hunter pitched 363 games for Oakland and only 137 for New York.

1956 Topps #200 Bob Feller1956 Topps #048 Jim HeganFerguson Jenkins hurled to Randy Hundley for 188 games and Jim Sundberg for 175.

Bob Feller's batterymates were Jim Hegan for 241 games and Rollie Hemsly for 115.

Don Drysdale side-armed to Johnny Roseboro for 283 games and Jeff Torborg was a distant second with 42.

1961 Topps #260 Don Drysdale1961 Topps #363 John Roseboro1957 Topps #025 Whitey Ford1957 Topps #002 Yogi BerraWhitey Ford toiled with Yogi Berra for 212 and Elston Howard for 179.

1968 Topps #100 Bob Gibson1968 Topps #275 Tim McCarver1962 Topps #505 Juan Marichal1962 Topps #356 Tom HallerBob Gibson flamed to Tim McCarver in 197 games and Ted Simmons in 135.

Juan Marichal was caught by Tom Haller 125 times and Dick Deitz 94 times.

1952 Topps #268 Bob Lemon1952 Topps #017 Jim Hegan1966 Topps #028 Phil Neikro1981 topps #108 Bruce BenedictBob Lemon pitched to Jim Hegan in 266 games and Joe Tipton for 25.

Phil Niekro tossed to Bruce Benedict 145 times and to Biff Pocoroba 92 times.

1968 Topps #085 Gaylord Perry1962 Topps #104 Dick Deitz1957 Topps #015 Robin Roberts1957 Topps #119 Stan LopataGaylord Perry fired to Dick Deitz in 113 games, Jim Sundburg for 97 and Tom Haller for 91.

Robin Roberts threw to Stan Lopata for 135 games and Andy Seminick for 126.

1954 Topps #020 warren Spahn1954 Topps #012 Del Crandall1974 Topps #220 Don Sutton1874 Topps #593 Steve YeagerWarren Spahn threw to Del Crandell 318 times and Phil Masi 68 times.

Don Sutton pitched to Steve Yeager 157 times and Joe Ferguson 92 times.

1961 Topps #545 Hoyt Wilhelm1957 Topps #156 Gus Triandos1957 Topps #040 Early Wynn1957 Topps #136 Jim HeganHoyt Wilhelm was primarily a relief pitcher, but in his starts for Baltimore in 1959 and 1960 he teamed up with Gus Triandos 32 times and Joe Ginsberg 6 times. Gus Triandos was involved in so many passed balls trying to stop Wilhelm's knuckler that an oversized catcher's mitt was devised to help. Wilhelm made most of his appearances for the White Sox in 1963 through 1968.

Early Wynn tossed to Jim Hegan for 247 games and Sherm Lollar for 96.

The first thing people who are not from Cleveland may say is "Who is Jim Hegan? You may have noticed that Jim Hegan is shown with three Hall of Famers from the Cleveland Indians, Feller, Lemon and Wynn. We must remember he also got to catch Mel Harder, Allie Reynolds, Mike Garcia, Herb Score and Satchell Paige. Pitching for Cleveland alone, these hurlers won 1,112 games while only losing 764 (.592). In seventeen seasons as a catcher Hegan averaged just .228, but handled some of the best of them. So, the next time you think of a great pitcher, think about who his catcher might have been. It's not always obvious.

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