My son plays on his college baseball team at the University of Wisconsin and has long had ambitions to break into the major leagues. The problem is that he is both left-handed and a catcher, for some reason a rare combination in the world of professional baseball. My sportswriter friends say that because of this the kid hasn't got a chance. Is this true? What accounts for this mystifying prejudice?
Illustration by Slug Signorino
As is my custom in matters of this nature, Don, I have consulted the Baseball Sachems, and the universal sentiment is that your son is doomed, baseball-wise, and had best prepare himself for a life of honest toil. As near as I can make out there have been but two left-handed catchers in the majors in the last 40 years, both of whom played in Chicago, and both of whom caught just two games before moving on to more profitable employment: Mike Squires, Sox, 1980, and Dale Long, Cubs, 1958. The reason there are virtually no left-handed catchers apparently is that most batters are right-handed and thus stand to the left side of home plate (I don’t mind admitting this caused me no end of confusion in my youth), blocking the catcher’s throw to second or third. Being a lefty myself, I have no doubt that any determined southpaw could overcome this minor handicap if given half a chance. But let’s face it, these days leftists aren’t in much of a position to challenge the power of the right.
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