In 1870's New York Mutuals catcher Nat Hicks started creeping closer to batters. Before him, catchers stood far behind the hitters, fielding pitches on the bounce.
In 1877 Harvard baseball captain Fred Thayer adapted a fencer's mask to be used by catchers, but it wasn't until 1890 that major leaguers accepted the screened-in luxury.
In 1885 catchers (and umpires) first used chest protectors.
In 1887 Charles Zimmer is the first catcher to play consistently behind the batter (2-3 feet).
In 1887 Draper and Maynard was the first company to market a glove specifically for catchers.
Giants catcher Roger Bresnahan introduces the shin guard in 1907.
On August 3, 1914 Les Nunamaker, Yankees catcher, becomes the only player in the twentieth century to gun down three runners attempting to steal in one inning.
On July 19, 1915, the Washington Senators stole eight bases in one inning against Cleveland catcher Steve O'Neil.
Herold "Muddy" Ruel was credited with labeling catching equipment as "Tools of Ignorance", although some say it was Bill Dickey - the debate continues to this day.
On September 8, 1916 Philadelphia A's catcher Wally Schang became the first player in major league history to hit a home run batting right-handed and left-handed in the same game.
In 1941 Mickey Owen dropped the third strike that blew the World Series for the Dodgers.
In 1947 the first pinch-hit home run in World Series history was slugged by Yogi Berra for the Yankees.
On September 21, 1952 Brooklyn catcher Roy Campanella hit the last homerun ever in Braves Field (Boston, MA).
On September 30, 1972 Oakland A's catcher Gene Tenance hit the last homerun ever in Municipal Stadium (Kansas City, MO). No catcher has ever hit the very first homerun in any ballpark.
Other fielders were regulated on glove size in 1939, but as late as 1965 baseball was still ruling on the types of mitts catchers could use.
On September 23, 1950, Philadelphia's reserve catcher Joe Astroth knocked in a record-tying six runs in the sixth inning of a 16-5 win over Washington,
Cardinals receiver Tim "Buckethead" McCarver won a bit of respect for catchers everywhere in 1966. Catchers, who tend to not be very speedy, rarely stretch hits into triples. McCarver's 13 triples were an NL high, marking the first time a catcher had led a league in that department.
On May 15, 1973, California Angels backup catcher Jeff Torborg catches the third no-hitter of his career. He previously backstopped gems for Bill Singer and Sandy Koufax while with the Dodgers. This one is a 3-0 blanking of Kansas City and the first no-hitter for teammate Nolan Ryan.
On November 5, 1978, Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Manny Sanguillen was involved in one of the strangest trades in history. Oakland A's manager Chuck Tanner was still under contract. To obtain the rights to hire Tanner, the Pirates traded Sanguillen and $100,000 to Oakland for their Manager Tanner.
Through 1997, the only player to hit a home run in his first big league at-bat during the regular season and his first at-bat in an All-Star game was Twins catcher Terry Steinbach. Steinbach homered in his first at-bat on September 12, 1986 and in his first All-Star game at-bat on July 12, 1988.
In 1997 Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza became the first catcher (and 25th overall) to hit 40 homers and 200 hits in a season.
** Special thanks to Chuck Rosciam for the info. **
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