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Catching: The toughest job in sports

Apr 4, 2012, 9:38 AM EDT

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During a week-long stint at spring training in Arizona this year, I spent a lot of time with catchers.

I learned a lot about their craft, about what they go through on a daily basis. About the stresses of the job, the grind of the six-month long season, as well as the non-stop mental challenges that are equally as grueling as the physical ones.

I talked to guys who can hit and guys who can’t, guys who have been through the wars and guys who are just coming into their own. It was an interesting journey, the result of which manifested itself in this package I put together over at NBCSports.com.

He’s a scout and a coach. He’s a psychiatrist and a self-help therapist. He’s the first one to sacrifice his body and the last line of defense. And if he wants to make big-time money, he’s going to have to hit, too.

He’s got the responsibilities of a quarterback and yet most likely will receive the notoriety of an offensive lineman. Want to be a catcher? Good luck. It’s not going to be easy. In fact, you won’t find any sporting venture that’s tougher.

I hope you enjoy.

You can follow Bob on Twitter here, or if Facebook is your thing, be his friend here.

  1. Carlton Fisk's Testicle - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    Toughest job in sports? Couldn’t agree more.

    • wendell7 - Apr 4, 2012 at 10:52 AM

      Also one of the most rewarding, IMHO. I caught in my high school and amateur leage days and absolutely . loved . every . minute . of it.

  2. stex52 - Apr 4, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    I don’t admire any player in baseball more than a good catcher. The good ones are the toughest and smartest players in the game. They make good managers and pitching coaches, too.

  3. gwylie1 - Apr 4, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    any NFL position tougher than catcher!

    • Baseball Beer Burritos In That Order - Apr 4, 2012 at 12:28 PM

      You must have post-concussion symptoms if you think anyone cares about football here. Go back to one of the websites for human cockfighting, I think there’s a link for Florio’s blog up top.

    • hasbeen5 - Apr 4, 2012 at 2:02 PM

      Sebastian Janikowski agrees. It’s tough to kick field goals while hungover and worrying about finding a new GHB supplier and a buffet.

  4. jeffharwell3 - Apr 4, 2012 at 11:34 AM

    Buster Posey was a stud in 2010. He took over as full time starter in August of that year and did not take a game off the rest of the way and is a huge reason for the Giants winning the World Series. Soo glad to have him back and i cant wait for this years title. GO GIANTS!!!

  5. marshmallowsnake - Apr 4, 2012 at 11:48 AM

    It is the toughest job in slow pitch softball too. Last week, I got trucked at home plate by a guy who was thrown out by 15 feet. Instead of giving himself up, he put is arms up in a x formation, lowered his head, and ran straight through me…yes, I said slow pitch softball…

    Damn umpire did not even give the guy a warning…I would have tossed him automatically.

    • wendell7 - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:22 PM

      In our local leagues the base runner must either slide or avoid contact on any close play, or he is out. That is for all the bases, not just home plate. A play like you described would definitely result in the “trucking” player’s ejection from the game, also possibly from any remaining league play. There is absolutely no reason for that kind of crap in a softball league. Hope you are OK

      • Cris E - Apr 4, 2012 at 3:21 PM

        Our league too. We’re old and slow and anyone who doesn’t get it is given directions to the next league over. We’re pretty clear about not playing for keeps. There are teams and leagues where Serious Slowpitch is The Goal, but I don’t play that way anymore.

      • marshmallowsnake - Apr 4, 2012 at 4:35 PM

        Funny part is, I umpired for this city (Tempe, AZ) and it should have been an automatic ejection. I kept talking about it, and the blue told me to let it go…I did not like that too much. I wanted to complain to the league director, but working for him previously, I knew nothing would come of it.

        As for me, I was pretty lucky. The hit was big. I was rattled, and dazed, but nothing major. Although, my right shoulder and collar bone area does not feel awesome since. It will heal. Thanks for the well wishes.

  6. nolanwiffle - Apr 4, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    “non-stop mental challenges”? I thought their gear was referred to as the tools of ignorance.

  7. cleverbob - Apr 4, 2012 at 11:58 AM

    Hey, DH is pretty grueling. Sometimes your butt falls asleep between at bats.

    • marshmallowsnake - Apr 4, 2012 at 4:36 PM

      Clever, Bob.

  8. davidtmp - Apr 4, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    I admire catcher’s as much as anyone. They have to know hitters, their pitcher’s, and when to go talk to the pitcher when he isn’t sharp. Not to mention the beating their knees take. Really surprised Posada lasted as long as he did.

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