National Catchers Day on February 2 commemorates catchers. Catchers receive pitches from pitchers while crouching behind the home plate in front of the umpire. Celebrated catchers of the past and present are honored on National Catcher’s Day.
History of National Catchers Day
Baseball, and consequently the role of catchers, underwent huge changes throughout its history. Baseball evolved from a recreational sport to a professional sport in the mid-19th century. Ever since the introduction of the called strike in 1858, a catch became required to complete a strikeout.
At first, catchers used to stand 20 to 25 feet behind the batter and wore no protective gear. When baseball clubs started using harder balls and the pitchers’ release points rose, the Dead-ball era began. The new protective equipment and the new rules changed the catcher’s defensive responsibilities.
A pitcher’s deceptive deliveries could only be effective if the catcher could field them, so catching became an important defensive position. Closer positioning of the catcher would affect pitching delivery, revolutionizing the sport. It was possible for Candy Cummings to introduce the curveball in the 1870s due to the proximity of the home plate and the ability of his catcher, Nat Hicks, to field his position. Other specialist pitches like spitballs and knuckleballs followed, emphasizing the catcher’s defensive role. With such a crucial role, it’s no wonder that Xan Barksdale created National Catchers Day in 2019.
National Catchers Day timeline
The called strike forces catchers to move closer to home plate — the rules now require that a strikeout must be completed by an out.
Catchers start using fingerless, padded gloves to safeguard their hands.
The catcher's mask is worn for the first time on April 12 by Harvard's James Tyng in an exhibition game against the Live Oaks of Lynn, Mass.
Padded chest guards are used for the first time.
National Catchers Day FAQs
Is being a catcher difficult?
One of the most physically demanding positions in baseball is that of the catcher, who is subjected to a constant barrage of bats, balls, and even other players. Nine or more innings in the squatting position, catching hundreds of pitches with different speeds, moves, and breaks are required.
What will happen if the catcher fails to catch the ball?
Whenever the catcher catches the ball, whether on the fly or with a first bound, the hitter is considered out. If any fielder had caught a batted ball, the situation would have been the same. Contrarily, an uncaught batted ball means the batter would dash to first base.
How does a catcher catch a pitch?
It is important for the catcher to not only field the ball cleanly but also strive to make the pitch look like it’s going to be a strike (a technique called framing). Aim to catch each pitch between your shoulders without moving your glove too quickly toward the ball.
National Catchers Day Activities
You can share all about the day or iconic pictures and videos of your favorite catcher on the day. Use the hashtag #NationalCatchersDay.
Learn more about your favorite catchers
You can learn more about your favorite catchers. Or why not learn and the sport in general?
You can reminisce about your catcher’s most iconic and exciting plays. Reflect on how happy they made you.
5 Interesting Facts About Catchers
The catcher receives the pitcher’s pitches while crouching behind the home plate in front of the (home) umpire.
The catcher has a 360-degree view of the field, making him the ideal person to guide other defenders during a defensive play.
Hand signals are commonly used by the catcher to summon pitches.
A home-plate umpire's quirks, eccentricities, and peculiarities are typically seen first by the catcher.
A challenging role
The most physically demanding position in baseball is that of the catcher.
Why We Love National Catchers Day
It’s a reminder of the power of trust. There have been several catchers throughout history who have become favored by their pitchers because of the strong mental bond and trust that a great catcher has with his pitcher. These catchers almost always (especially during the regular season) start with the pitcher. An informal name for this position has been coined: the pitcher's "personal catcher."
Prevent wayward pitches
Catchers must be swift enough to catch (or block) wayward pitches, even if the pitcher is expected to do so. A catcher's job is to keep baserunners from moving forward while the loose ball is being collected.
Catchers have one of the most intense jobs and are prone to injury. Yet, they remain dedicated and that’s something to celebrate.
National Catchers Day dates