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Bill Burgess
11-18-2007, 12:03 PM
I would like to discuss this great player in more depth than we have up to now.

Introducing Buck Ewing:---BB Reference (http://www.baseball-reference.com/e/ewingbu01.shtml)

Born: October 27, 1859, Hoagland, OH
Died: October 20, 1906; Cincinnati, OH, age 46

NL catcher, IF, OF, 3B, 2B, P, 1880-97
NL manager, 1890, 1895-1900

Buck's Relative Stats:

-Relative BA-----Rel.Slg.-------Rel.Onbase----Rel.ISO-------OPS+
-----1.10----------1.22------------1.06-----155.5 (93rd)---129 (t 162nd)

Bill James; Nov. 5, 1949 - Still Alive;
Prolific author of BB books, popularized new study of BB stats, called "sabermetrics", amazingly widely-read on BB subjects.

First called my attention to Buck Ewing, in his 1st Hist. Abstract, pp. 33-35. Bill points out that many respected BB men considered Ewing to be the greatest all-around PLAYER ever, not simply the greatest catcher. John B. Foster, Mickey Welch and Monte Ward all thought Buck was the greatest ballplayer ever to play the game, until the day they died. That got my attention. Sadly, Bill now down-rates Buck as a catcher due to so few games caught.

John P. McCarthy, Jr. also chooses Buck as his catcher on his A team, from his book, Baseball's All Time Dream Team, 1994.

Connie Mack, Dec. 22, 1862 - Feb. 6, 1956;
NL catcher (1886-96), Phil Athletics' manager (1901-50)
Had Ewing as his catcher as late as Dec. 24, 1931, and John McGraw had Buck as his catcher until he died.

John McGraw, April 7, 1873 - Feb. 25, 1934;
ML 3B (1891-06); Baltimore Oriole man. (1899 , 01-02), NY Giants man. 1902-32)
Had Buck as his catcher until he died.

Grantland Rice, Nov. 1, 1880 - July 13, 1954;
(Atlanta, Cle., Nashville, NY spwr. 1902-54) Most loved, and widely read sports writer of all time.
Put him on a All Time team in 1918. (Sporting News, Jan. 10, 1918, pp. 5, column 2.)

4. Clark Griffith, Nov. 20, 1898 - Oct. 27, 1955;
(ML pitcher,1891-14), (Senators manager,1901-20), Senators owner,1920-55
Chose Buck as his catcher of his scientific team in 1952, and Cochrane / Dickey for his "power" team. (Sporting News, July 23, 1952, pp. 12)

A 3rd book describing Buck is The Greatest Giants of Them All by Arnold Hano, 1967. The section describing Buck is superb and too long to insert here. But one can read this cool fascinating stuff on Buck Ewing through inter-library loans, for almost free.

Buck Ewing has been my catcher for about 17 years now. He was reputed to have been the best all-around PLAYER of the 1800's.

John B. Foster, July 16, 1863-Sept. 29, 1941;
NY spwr., 1888-1941, Editor-in-Chief of Official Spalding Baseball Guide(1908-41), NY Giants business manager/secretary, 1912-1919.
In spring, 1938, John B. Foster, the long time editor of Spalding Official Baseball Guide, from 1908-41, finally chose his all-time team, and chose Ewing as his choice for the Greatest Ever Player. Foster had been watching players come and go since 1887.

Here is John Foster's entry for Ewing, from that 1938 Guide.
The first to be picked, and the first who should be selected in this stretch of fifty years, is William Ewing, better known as Buck."

He is to be the catcher. He has been called the greatest all-round player ever connected with the game. I think that he was. He pitched, played every position on the infield and played the outfield. He did not play at them but played them. I was ready to laugh at his efforts when he essayed to pitch, but he quickly cured me of the inclination. Although he did not have the finesse of Tim Keefe, that great pitcher who was his contemporary, he showed that he had the art, was thoroughly conversant with the batter's weakness, and was doing his level best to pitch to it.

The great speed of Keefe, the curves of Mickey Welsh and the cannonball service of ponderous Ed Crane were missing in Ewing, yet he had an effective style of his own and the batter was not slow in ascertaining it. He was a good adviser to his brother "Long John."

As a thrower to bases Ewing never had a superior, and there are not to exceed ten men who could come anywhere near being equal to him. Ewing was the man of whom it was said, He handed the ball to the second baseman from the batter's box. George W. Howe, treasurer of the Cleveland club, once asked the manager of the team, Oliver Tebeau, why the runners of Cleveland, who were very good, did not steal bases more often when they play New York. Because they're out before they start, was the quick replay. "That man behind the bat for New York can't be fooled. He knows when a runner is going to start practically as soon as the runner decides to make the attempt, and he shoots the ball down to Richardson, who catches the best man we've got.

He stands up an waits for him to come, and makes our runners look foolish."
What was said by Tebeau voiced the sentiment of every other captain in the league. Even the famed Mike Kelly used to study Ewing for minutes at a time, trying to find out how he managed to get the ball to second so smoothly and quickly." (Spalding NL Official Base Ball Guide, 1938, pp. 14)

Francis C. Richter, Jan. 26, 1854-Feb. 12, 1926;
Philadelphia sportswriter (1876-1926), AL Reach Baseball Guide Editor-In-Chief (1901-1926, death)

John B. Foster's counterpart, Francis C. Richter, who had been watching ballplayers since the 1868, chose Ewing as the Greatest Player Ever in 1919.
Mr. Richter was a Phil. spwr. since 1872, and served as the Editor-In-Chief of the AL Official Base Ball Guide from 1902-1926. He had started sp. dept. at newspapers, and was of the most influential movers & shakers in baseball. Even though by 1925, Richter had evolved to Cobb, that only served to prove that he had never allowed himself to grow stale. Here is the quote from Richter, taken from the 1919 Reach AL Baseball Official Guide.

"It is a difficult, not to say ungrateful, task to select any one player as superior to all the rest, though we have always been inclined to consider Catcher-Manager William (Buck) Ewing in his prime, from 1884 to 1890, as the greatest player of the game. From the standpoint of supreme excellence in all departments-batting, catching fielding, base running, throwing and base ball brains-a player without a weakness of any kind, physical, mental, or temperamental. . . ."

I have seen all the players in the major leagues in action since 1868, and . . . Ty Cobb appears to me to be, with two exceptions, just a trifle superior to all the rest. . . these two exceptions are Buck Ewing, the greatest catcher that ever stood in shoe leather and Hans Wagner, the super-excellent shortstop of the Pittsburgh club." (Reach AL Baseball Official Guide, 1919)

John McGraw, April 7, 1873 - Feb. 25, 1934;
ML 3B (1891-06); Baltimore Oriole man. (1899 , 01-02), NY Giants man. 1902-32)
In 1919, John McGraw had this to say about Buck. "Roger Bresnahan was the greatest catcher I ever saw, always excepting Buck Ewing."
(Baseball Magazine, May, 1919, pp. 14)

Four years later, In his autobiography in 1923, John J. McGraw, had this to say about Buck Ewing.

"He came as near to being a catcher without a single weakness as the game has ever known. In fact, Buck Ewing was a Ty Cobb behind the bat. He had a mental capacity equal to his playing ability. Ewing could handle a team perfectly. He had an uncanny knack of getting the jump on the pitchers.

No player ever studied a rival pitcher's delivery closer and was so quick to take advantage of the slightest false move. As a thrower Buck excelled. He got the ball away from him with a quick round arm snap, no time being wasted. Buck threw what is known as a very "heavy" ball, one that dropped in the baseman's hand like a lump of lead. Ewing had so much confidence in his throwing that I have seen him deliberately roll the ball away from him just to tempt the base runner into a steal. He was hard hitter as well as a scientific place hitter. Roger Bresnahan was a close second to Ewing in all that goes to make a great catcher." (John J. McGraw, My Thirty Years in Baseball, by John J. McGraw, as told to Bozeman Bulger, 1923, pp. 214)

John M. Ward - "There will never be another Ewing. He is on top. He was a great hitter and a brilliant man back of the plate."

Ward was being quoted by Granny Rice. (The History of Baseball, by Allison Danzig and Joe Reichler, 1959, pp. 255, column 1)

Tim Keefe - Upon Buck's death on Oct. 21, 1906, his former pitcher, Tim Keefe had these comments. "The other players on the team would go through fire and water for Buck, and I believe no better captain ever stepped upon a ball field. The game has not in its ranks to-day any one who can approach him. I say most unhesitatingly that I never knew his equal as an all-around ball player.

"He was a fine fellow both on and off the field. While the greatest catcher of ancient or modern times, he could do a smart trick in the box, and once almost killed Roger Conner with one of his fast ones. He could play any infield position skillfully. I never saw any one play a deeper short than he. He was a great man for his pitcher, for he knew how to steady him, and no one ever made a deeper study of the weaknesses of opposing batsman." (Washington Post, Oct. 28, 1906, pp. S4)

Cap Anson, April 11, 1852 - April 14, 1922;
(ML 1B, 1871-97), (ML man., 1875, '79-98)
The best catcher I ever saw was Buck Ewing, who caught for the Giants when they won the world's championship in 1888 and 1889. I have never to this day seen his equal, but little Walters, of the New York Yankees, reminds me of Ewing's throwing on bases. "Ewing was a quick thinker and a natural born leader. (Washington Post, June 3, 1917, pp. S18)

Sam Crane, Jan. 2, 1854-June 26, 1925;
ML 2B, 1880-90. NY sportswriter, 1990-25
"Buck Ewing was the best catcher I ever saw," says Crane. "He had everything." (Baseball Magazine, April, 1918, pp. 475)

4. Clark Griffith, Nov. 20, 1898 - Oct. 27, 1955;
(ML pitcher,1891-14), (Senators manager,1901-20), Senators owner,1920-55
"In the catching line, the stars of the present day, are not as good as those of the other days. Buck Ewing never has known an equal as a catcher. I call him the best ball player the world ever has known. The only man who ever approached him was Mike Kelly, of the old Chicago White Sox. Kelly, too, was a wonder, but not quite equal to Ewing." (Washington Post, April 26, 1914, pp. S2.)

Ned Hanlon, Aug. 22, 1857-April 14, 1937;
ML OF 1880-92, NL man. 1889-1907, exc. 1890 player's L. manager.
"No man ever had anything on Buck Ewing as a catcher. He had a wonderful arm, a great head, and was, in my opinion, the best all-round player that ever lived." (Washington Post, Oct. 28, 1906, pp. S4) By 1909, Ned had evolved to Ty Cobb, as his number one ranked player, all time.

John B. Sheridan, Jan. 22, 1870-April 14, 1930;
St. Louis spwr. (1888-1929), Sporting News column, "Back of Home Plate", 1917-29

(Joe) Vila questions the equality of Roger Bresnahan as a catcher to Buck Ewing, Mike Kelly or Charley Bennett. I have had doubts between Breshahan and Ewing, but none about Bresnahan or Ewing's superiority to Kelly or Bennett. To my mind, Kelly was a great personality rather than a great ball player. He was, when fit, a good hitter, a clever base runner or entertaining player, but he never appealed to me as a great technician behind the bat. Charley Bennett was slow, and a good mark to pitch to, a good thrower. Ewing could receive, plan, throw, hit and run bases. I have always agreed Buck was one of the three greatest catchers, Bresnahan and Kling being the other two. I believe that Ewing and Kling had technically, better hands, were better receivers and takers of throws than Bresnahan . . . (Sporting News, February 11, 1926, pp. 4, column 6)

William B. Hanna, Oct., 1956? - Nov. 20, 1930;
NY sportswriter, 1888-1930
"Buck Ewing, more than any other catcher, combined the four cardinal qualities of physical greatness as a backstop. He was A1 as a batter, fielder, base runner and in head work. If you'll think over the other catchers you will find few, if any, who had all of these virtues.

Roger Breshahan came nearest, or Wally Schang, or Wilber Robinson. They were faster afoot than most catchers. A number of receivers could hit and catch and throw as well as Ewing, possibly Bennett was great as a backstop. So were Johnny Kling, Lou Criger, Martin Bergen, Jimmy Archer, Billy Sullivan and Bill Killefer, and Doe Bushong. So are Schalk, Severeid, Bassler and O'Farrell, the last named one of the best of the day for all around excellence. None has made the intaglio-like impress of Ewing. (Baseball Magazine, June, 1924, pp. 300, "Did you ever stop to realize that Roger Bresnahan is the second Buck Ewing of Baseball?" I hadn't, having created a sacred pedestal for Ewing. They broke the Ewing mould. (NY Herald Tribune, Dec. 31, 1926, From an Oldtimer's Notebook, by W. B. Hanna)

Joe Vila, Dec.16, 1886 - April 27, 1934;
NYC sports writer, 1893-1934
"A six footer, weighing 180 pounds, Ewing was noted for his all-around skill. He was a smart backstop, possessing a complete knowledge of the weak points of enemy hitters, a magnificent thrower to bases, always a .300 hitter and rated among the fastest base runners. Ewing not only was superb catcher, but he played every infield position capably and on several occasions showed that he would pitch with more than ordinary skill. "The History of Baseball: Its great Players, Teams and Managers, ed. By Allison Danzig & Joe Reichler, 1959, pp. 256) Joe Vila wrote the above quote in the NY Sun in 1934.

Lee Allen, (Jan. 12, 1915 - May 20, 1969);
(Cincinnati spwr. 1945 - 1958), (Hall of Fame Historian, 1959-69);
"But Detroit also had Charlie Bennett, considered the greatest catcher in the game except for Buck Ewing;" (The National League Story, by Lee Allen, 1961, pp. 61)

On more than one occasion he caught a brilliant game on one day, and on the following afternoon put in Bill Brown behind the bat and went into the box himself. In the fall of 1888 Ewing went to California as one of the star attractions of the Championship Giants, assisted by Mike Kelly, Jerry Denny, and Tom Brown. Ewing performed the remarkable feat of pitching every game played on that trip, sometimes two in a day, and winning all except one. The following year he caught eighty championship contests for the Giants without missing a game.

As aggressive a player as Buck was, he was never a rowdy in an age of unruly players. He didn't verbally abuse anyone and hence was extremely popular with all. One day in the spring of 1892, when he went to Connecticut to play an exhibition game with the New York's. It was snowing and the wind was cold and raw. Ewing made a quick throw to second base and something snapped in this shoulder. He never fully recovered the use of his throwing arm afterward.

During his career, he accumulated a small fortune that allowed him to live in comfort after he retired from the game. In the 7 yrs. After he retired from baseball until his death, he lived well-to-do, owning considerable property throughout the West. He had always had the good common sense to put away a good part of each year's stipend.
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Buck Ewing's Gold Glove Estimates, According to Mathew Souder's PCA stat system:

1880 - 16
1881 - 3 (Bennett)
1882 - 5 (Bennett)
1883 - 2 (Bushong)
1884 - 2 (Gilligan)
1885 - 1
1886 - 4 (Bennett)
1887 - 13 (Boyle)
1888 - 2 (Bennett)
1889 - 2 (Zimmer)
1890 - 3 (Farrell)
1891 - NR
1892 (1B) - 7 (Virtue)
1892 (C) - 23
1893 (RF) - 5 (Treadway)
1894 (RF) - 6 (Bannon)
1895 (1B) - 10 (Beckley)
1896 (1B) - 2 (Tebeau)
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Bill James, in his 1st Historical Abstract, 1985, said that while he wasn't including players from pre-1900 and the Negro leagues in his top 100 All-Time list, he considered players Buck Ewing, Satchel Paige, and Oscar Charleston, not beneath his list, but in the top 10 in some other invisible theoretical list, alongside of it. Sadly, in his 2nd Historical Abstract, 2001, he doesn't include Ewing in his top 100 list, due to his catching only 636 games in 13 yrs. He rates Buck only 17 among catchers all-time. I first discovered Buck Ewing in Bill's 1st Historical Abstract. And I've seen no reason to down-rate him since. Buck stopped catching at age 32, because he threw his famous forearm out in spring, 1892.

Most people today don't remember that in 1936, there were supposed to originally be 5 pre- 1900 players elected along with the Original 5. It didn't work out that way. Needing 59 votes to get in, the leading vote getters were Buck Ewing with 40, Cap Anson 40, Keeler 33, Young 32 Ed Delahanty 22, McGraw 17, Herman Long 16, Charlie Radbourne 16, Mike Kelly 16, Amos Rusie 12. So none got elected.

So, in 1939, Judge Landis, Ford Frick and William Harridge selected Buck Ewing, Cap Anson, Al Spalding, Candy Cummings, Comiskey, Radbourne for inclusion in the Hall. Less desirous way to get in. Apparently, the post 1930 world has forgotten why 40 original voters thought Buck Ewing was fully the equal of Anson, as a player. I plan to remind them.

Most well-informed baseball fans now consider Buck Ewing the best all-around player who played pre-1900.

Bill James once considered Buck Ewing to be among the top 10 all-around position players of a theoretical All-Time list.

Author John P. McCarthy, Jr., who wrote Baseball's All-Time Dream Team, 1994, considers Buck Ewing the greatest catcher of all time.

I contend that the immortal Buck Ewing was the greatest catcher of all time, and until 1892, among the Top 10 All-Around Position Players of All Time, and the greatest All-Around Player of the 1800's.

-------------------Buck Ewing-------------------Buck Ewing, studio photograph----------Buck Ewing, studio photograph
http://i685.photobucket.com/albums/vv217/BillBurgess/19th%20Century%20Photographic%20Archive/Image7-1.jpg

3 early baseball cards of Buck Ewing:
Photographs taken in the studio, against a canvass backdrop.
http://i685.photobucket.com/albums/vv217/BillBurgess/19th%20Century%20Photographic%20Archive/Image11.jpg

---------------------------------------------------------------------------An artist's portrait, drawn from a photograph.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------Source: The Illustrated American, May 10, 1890.
http://i685.photobucket.com/albums/vv217/BillBurgess/19th%20Century%20Photographic%20Archive/Image20-1-1.jpg
http://i685.photobucket.com/albums/vv217/BillBurgess/19th%20Century%20Photographic%20Archive/Buckk-1.jpg
http://i685.photobucket.com/albums/vv217/BillBurgess/19th%20Century%20Photographic%20Archive/Image5-2.jpg
http://i685.photobucket.com/albums/vv217/BillBurgess/19th%20Century%20Photographic%20Archive/Image5-1-1.jpg

Bill Burgess
11-18-2007, 12:04 PM
31570--Sporting News' article, February 18, 1932, pp. 5. (http://www.paperofrecord.com/paper_view.asp?PaperId=834&RecordId=1&PageId=7754988&iZyNetId={BA4618E7-92A7-40CA-BA68-9954BF69DBE8}&iOrder=2&iOrderDir=0&iCurrentBlock=1)

In a truly wonderful article for The Sporting News, dated Feb.18, 1932, John B. Foster, gives a glowing description of Ewing. I've cherry-picked a few choice tid-bits from that article.

"There are some who think Charley Bennett was a trifle superior to Ewing and some who incline to Mike Kelly. Of these two, Bennett was much the better. Kelly was popular with the crowd, but, as a technician, he was not the equal of Bennett, and the latter was not the equal of Ewing in brilliancy as well as in physical attainments.

One day, he was talking about throwing and about his arm. "I can snap them just as easy as I can throw them." he said. What's the use of standing up every time you want to catch a man off the bases. You have got to lose two steps on the runner while you are straightening yourself out. You see, my forearm is pretty strong," extending his arm for inspection, as he said it.

"I've got good muscles below the elbow and around it. I'll bet that I can throw into the outfield using my forearm only, nearly as far as some players can throw if they put all they have into an overhand motion." "But don't you think that some day you will hurt your arm by so much of this forearm snapping of the ball?" "I don't see why. It's there, and good. Tell me what difference it makes if you use the muscles of your lower arm, depend upon them, you might say, and don't use the muscles around your shoulder." It may not make any difference, but some baseball men, you know, have a hunch that your forearm will give out quicker than your upper arm."

'I'm still goin'," was the reply. Yet that was the very thing that happened. (Spring, 1892) His forearm did give out and he could no longer snap the ball as he had, but he could throw fairly well overhand and so he played in the outfield after he had finished catching.

Ewing could handle the delivery of any pitcher. He was as remarkable in that respect as he was in others. Ed Crane, who was called Hercules in his day--and he was the model of a Hercules--had more speed than any other pitcher in the National League, but did not know how to control the ball, and to try to catch him was a task and something of a physical feat, for he had the reputation of tearing up the hands of a catcher because of his speed. Ewing could handle him and escape the punishment that other catchers seemed to receive and he could get winning games out of him where others failed to keep him steady.

As a field general, Buck brought the Giants into the championship class. John Ward had tried it and failed. Ward was a good leader, but not of the type of Ewing, and not qualified to handle a team like the Giants as successfully as Ewing could handle them. Buck knew the plays and the players of other teams. I doubt whether any catcher ever knew opposing batters more thoroughly than he did and that helped to make him great.

One day, I told him I thought he led all the catchers in baseball history . . . "I'm glad you think so," said Buck. "I tried to do the best I could and oh, man, but I did love to play with the old Giants. I used to think that if I could catch as well as Charley Bennett was catching for Boston, we could win the championship. We only beat 'em a game in 1889, so there couldn't have been much difference between me and Charley." (The Sporting News, Feb.18, 1932, pp. 5, "Buck Ewing Called Greatest Catcher in Game's History, by John B. Foster)

Bill Burgess
11-18-2007, 12:04 PM
Baseball-Reference Bullpen article:

William Ewing

Bats Right, Throws Right
Height 5' 10", Weight 188 lb.
Debut September 9, 1880
Final Game May 27, 1897
Born October 17, 1859 in Hoagland, OH USA
Died October 20, 1906 in Cincinnati, OH USA
Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1939

Biographical Information
"I have never seen anyone throw like him since I have been in baseball." - Tom Loftus, 1889, Cleveland manager
"In his prime the greatest player of the game from the standpoint of supreme excellence in all departments: batting, catching, fielding, base running, throwing and baseball brains. A player without a weakness of any kind." - Reach Guide, 1919
Buck Ewing was one of the biggest stars in 19th century baseball, and an argument could be made that he was the greatest catcher of all time. Similarity scores show that two of the three most similar players are King Kelly and Hughie Jennings, although no player is truly similar.

He broke in with the 1880 Troy Trojans, at a time when professional major-league baseball was starting its first "golden age", and lasted until 1897. Hall of Famers Dan Brouthers and Roger Connor were also young players on the Troy team.

He suffered an injury to his throwing arm in 1892, and thereafter his arm was never the same.

His career stats, while very good, are not mind-boggling. In an 18-year-career, he usually hit over .300, and ended up with a .303 career average. He led the league in home runs once (at the time, his 10 home runs was a record), and in triples once, and was usually in the top ten in slugging. He stole a great many bases (statistics are not complete for the early years of his career, but he stole 354 bases from 1886 onward).

Where, then, is the argument for his being the greatest catcher of all time? First, it is said that he reinvented the art of catching, playing much closer to the batter and sometimes crouching. His arm was strong enough that he could afford to do so.

Secondly, it was an era in which catchers took a beating from stray balls. Without modern equipment to protect them, catchers tended to get injuries and miss a large proportion of their teams' games. As a result, the players who ended up at catcher were usually poor hitters: for instance, in 1883 when Ewing hit .303 and led the league in homers for Troy, other catchers in the league had these stats: Doc Bushong (Cleveland, .172, 0 homers), Barney Gilligan (Providence, .198, 0 homers), Silver Flint (Chicago, .265, 0 homers), Mike Hines (Boston, .225, 0 homers), Jack Rowe (Buffalo, .278, 1 home run); there were a couple catchers in the league who also hit .300 that year (Charlie Bennett and Emil Gross), but neither was able to duplicate the feat year after year, as Ewing did - Gross played only 5 seasons, while Bennett ended up with a lifetime .256 average. Ewing played in more games in 1883 than any catcher in the league but Bennett, and had more at-bats than Bennett.

So Ewing was a "freak" - a catcher who could not only hit as well as King Kelly, but did so at a time when other catchers were often hitting close to .200 without power. And he kept it up for a long career.

Third, he was an all-around player, with high average, good power, lots of stolen bases, and great fielding. Although a catcher, one could think of him as the Tris Speaker or Willie Mays of his time.

In post-season play, his team twice won the Temple Cup, the 19th century semi-equivalent of the World Series.

He didn't always play catcher, of course, because his bat was too valuable to sit on the bench if he could play elsewhere. So he was a useful multi-position player, appearing in 636 games at catcher, 253 at first base, 235 in the outfield, 127 at third base, 51 games at second base, 34 games at shortstop, and 9 as a pitcher (his ERA in 47 innings was 3.45, better than the average pitcher).

The argument for seeing him as the greatest catcher of all time rests on the view that he was head-and-shoulders above the other catchers of his time, and on top of that was an all-around player. Being a catcher who hit .300 in an era when other catchers tended to hit around .200 was equivalent to being Mike Piazza in the 1990's, only imagine Piazza as a perennial Gold Glove catcher who stole 50 bases each year and got lots of triples in addition to his home runs and high average.

Ewing managed for 7 seasons, during 4 of which he was a player-manager. His lifetime winning percentage as a manager was .553. Six of his seven teams finished over .500. Wahoo Sam Crawford broke in as a 19-year-old rookie under Ewing in 1899, as did Harry Steinfeldt, who was later to become so valuable on the 1906 Cubs team that went 116-36. Hall of Famers who played several years for Ewing included Jake Beckley and Bid McPhee. When Ewing's New York Giants started out very slowly in 1900, he was replaced by team shortstop and eventual Hall of Famer George Davis as manager.

Ewing died young, a few days after his 47th birthday. His New York Times obituary says that he was well-to-do at the time of his death, owning considerable property.

His brother John Ewing led the National League in ERA in 1891.

Notable Achievements
NL Triples Leader (1884)
NL Home Runs Leader (1883)
100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1893)
100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1893)
50 Stolen Bases Seasons: 1 (1888)
Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1939

Bill Burgess
11-18-2007, 12:05 PM
Catcher's Background Reference Resources:

Form Chart: Catchers

Pre-1910: Jack Clements, "Deacon" Jim McGuire, Red Charlie Dooin, Buck Ewing, Mike "King" Kelly, Charlie Bennett, Charles "Pop" Snyder, Marty Bergen, Bill Bergen, Johnny Kling, Roger Bresnahan, Chief Zimmer, Duke Farrell, John Warner, Wilbert Robinson, Doc Bushong, Moses Fleetwood Walker.

1910-60: Hank Severeid, Bob O'Farrell, Bill Killefer, Ray Schalk, Wally Schang, Johnny Bassler, Walker Cooper, Sherman Lollar, Jim Hegan, Jimmy Archer, Muddy Ruel, Steve O'Neil, Billy Sullivan, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey, Gabby Hartnett, Al Lopez, Ernie Lombardi, Walker Cooper, Rick Ferrell, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Del Crandall, Smokey Burgess.

1960-present: Ted Simmons, Lance Parrish, Jim Sundberg, Jerry Grote, Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk, Thurman Munson, Mike Piazza, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, Bill Freehan, Benito Santiago, Charles Johnson, Bob Boone, Mike Matheny.

Negro Leagues:
Josh Gibson (1929-1946)
Louis "Santop" Loftin (1909-26)
Bruce Petway (1906-25);
Frank Duncan (1920-48)
Larry Brown (1919-49)
James Raleigh "Biz" Mackey (1920-47, '50)
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Bil James' Top Catchers: 1. Yogi Berra 2. Johnny Bench 3. Roy Campanella 4. Mickey Cochrane 5. Mike Piazza 6. Carlton Fisk 7. Bill Dickey 8. Gary Carter 9. Gabby Hartnett 10. Ted Simmons 11. Joe Torre 12. Bill Freehan 13. Ivan Rodriguez 14. Thurman Munson 15. Elston Howard 16. Roger Bresnahan 17. Buck Ewing 18. Darrell Porter 19. Lance Parrish 20. Wally Schang 21. Bob Boone 22. Ernie Lombardi 23. Gene Tenace 24. Tim McCarver 25. Darren Daulton 26. Tom Haller 27. John Roseboro 28. Smodky Burgess 29. Rick Ferrell 30. Del Crandall 35. Ray Schalk 47. Johnny Bassler 48. Johnny Kling 49. Charlie Bennett
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As an added reference resource, here are our two former Catcher comparison threads.

3rd Round of Greatest Position Players - April 14, 2007 - June 12, 2007 - conducted by Bill Burgess (http://www.baseball-fever.com/showthread.php?t=61039)
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My slate of candidates for Top 20 Catchers: I put a high premium on defense and arm.

1. Buck Ewing - 1880-96 - Had whole package; best handler of P., best arm-suppress running game; good bat, good runner, hit leadoff, good, popular manager.

2. Johnny Bench - 1967-83 - Fully-loaded package; Defense, hit, power, arm. 14 all star teams, led in HRs twice.

3. Josh Gibson - (1929-46) Negro L., defense good, Bombs Away.

4. Mickey Cochrane - 1925-37 - Did it all. Defense, hit, ran, arm, manager, fire.

5. Biz Mackay - 1920-47, '50 - Negro Leagues - Defense deluxe; hit well. Negro Leagues.

6. Yogi Berra - 1947-63 Good defense, hit well, power, managed. Yankee bounce.

7. Mike Piazza - Thunder club/glass arm, light glove.

8. Bill Dickey - 1928-43 - Superb defense, backbone of 30's Yanks, w/Gehrig, of course.

9. Louis "Santop" Loftin - (1909-26) Negro L. Nice defense, Gibson light at plate.

10. Roy Campanella - (1937-45, 47-57) Negro L. - ML), good D., but not up to the others.

11. Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez - 1991-present - Superb defense. 10 all star teams.

12. Gary Carter (1974-92) - superb D, not bad bat. Led L. in RBIs once, 4 times over 100 RBIs. Twice over 30 HRs. 11 All-Star games, 3 GGs, 324 career HRs, 3 Top 10's in SLG., 7 Top 10's in HRs, 6 Top 10's in RBIs, 6 Top 10's in EBHs.

13. Carlton Fisk (1971-93) - excellent D., OK bat. 11 All-Star games, 1 GG, 2 Top 10 BA., 3 Top 10 onbase, 4 Top 10 SLG., 3 Top 10 in HRs, 2 Top 10 in RBIs, 1 Top 10 in BB.

14. Gabby Hartnett - (1922-41) Hefty bat/superb glove made him a great favorite. Cubs receiver was strong rival to Cochrane/Dickey.

15. Thurman Munson (1969-79) - good glove, OK bat. 7 All-Stars, 3 GGs, 5 Top 10's BA, 1 Top 10 onbase, 1 Top 10 SLG. Career aborted by death at age 32, hurt his legacy.

16. Michael "King" Kelly - (1878-93) great catcher, played OF, hit/ran well.

17. Charlie Bennett - (1878-93) Cutting-edge defense, superb arm. Arm rivaled that of Ewing.

18. Johnny Kling; - (1902-08, '10-13) Master technician behind plate, bat had hole in it.

19. Jimmie Archer - (1907, '09-18) Didn't last long enough, bat too light, but D. was superb, and arm of iron. Threw from crouch, like Ewing.

20. Bruce Petway - (1906-25) - Negro Leagues; Superb receiver, great arm.

21. Marty Bergen - (1896-1899) superb receiver, with arm of steel. Best catcher of his short career. Overcame his mental illness for 4 seasons, before it caught up with him.

Honorable Mentions:

22. Johnny Bassler (1914, 21-27) Voted into Top 7 in MVP in '22-'24; Hit .346 in 1924, 5th in league, league ave. .290. Perhaps best defensively in L.
23. Ray Schalk (1912-29)
24. Frank Duncan (1920-48) - Negro Leagues defensive star.
25. Larry Brown (1919-49) - Negro Leagues defensive star.
Other Honorable Mentions: Roger Bresnahan, Bill Freehan, Benito Santiago, Charles Johnson, Bob Boone.
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1st Round of Greatest Position Players - November 14, 2004 - December 10, 2004, by Leecemark (http://baseball-fever.com/showthread.php?t=21065)

--Voting is closed and here are the top 10 (first place votes in paras). Josh Gibson got the most first place votes, but was left off many ballots and finished 4th. He was the only catcher not on my top 10 list to make it and I surely can't argue that he wasn't top 10 even though I don't know where to rank him myself. Buck Ewing was the only player to get a first place vote and not make the top 10.

1. Johnny Bench 158 (5)
2. Yogi Berra 151 (3)
3. Mickey Cochrane 135 (1)
4. Josh Gibson 93 (7)
5. Roy Campanella 73
6. Gabby Hartnett 71
7. Bill Dickey 67
8. Ivan Rodriguez 63
9. Mike Piazza 56
10. Carlton Fisk 35
11. Gary Carter 22
12. Buck Ewing 18 (1)
13. Biz Mackey 17

Honorable Mention: Nine other catchers received votes but didn't crack double figures in points.
--------------------
2nd Round of Greatest Position Players - October 13, 2005 - December 27, 2005, by 53820 (http://www.baseball-fever.com/showthread.php?t=34749)

1. Johnny Bench-183 (10)
2. Yogi Berra-131
3. Josh Gibson-106 (5)
4. Mike Piazza-87
5. Mickey Cochrane-84
6. Roy Campanella-67
7. Ivan Rodriguez-63
8. Bill Dickey-50
9. Gary Carter-35
10. Carlton Fisk-31
11. Buck Ewing-30 (1)
12. Gabby Hartnett-28
------------------------------
3rd Round of Greatest Position Players - April 14, 2007 - June 12, 2007 - conducted by Bill Burgess (http://www.baseball-fever.com/showthread.php?t=61039)

There were 15 ballots, and the following are the point totals.

1) Johnny Bench 141 (8)
2) Yogi Berra 124 (2)
3) Mickey Cochrane 93 (1)
4) Josh Gibson 86 (3)
5) Mike Piazza 84

6) Gary Carter 50
6) Ivan Rodriguez 50
8) Carlton Fisk 43
9) Bill Dickey 41
10) Ray Campanella 31

11) Buck Ewing 26 (1)
12) Gabby Hartnett 24
13) Biz Mackey 13
14) Lance Parrish 5
14) Louis Santop 5
14) Ted Simmons 5

17) Katsuya Nomura 2
18) Elston Howard 1
18) Joe Torre 1
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Here are the results of our 4th poll, conducted by leecemark, March 2, 2008.
--Thank you to the 12 members who shared their opinions here. Johnny Bench received 9 of 12 first place votes, Yogi Berra 2 and Buck Ewing 1. Vote totals as follows; Negro Leaguers were not allowed.

1) Johnny Bench 233
2) Yogi Berra 215
3) Mike Piazza 211
4) Mickey Cochrane 192
5t) Gary Carter 159
5t) Roy Campanella 159
7) Carlton Fisk 158
8) Bill Dickey 152
9) Ivan Rodriguez 147
10) Gabby Hartnett 141
11) Buck Ewing 128
12) Ted Simmons 93
13) Joe Torre 68
14) Bill Freehan 55
15) Charlie Bennett 45
16) Thurman Munson 39
17) Ernie Lombardi 38
18) Roger Bresnanhan 37
19) King Kelly 29
20) Lance Parrish 27
21) Elston Howard 6/23
22) Deacon White 4/15
23) Jorge Posada 3/18
24) Ray Schalk 3/17
25) Gene Tenace 3/14
26) Wally Schang 3/12
27) Johnny Kling 3/8
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Of the catchers, I must give top honors for Defense to Ewing, Biz Mackay, Bennett, Kling, Bench, Schalk, Rodriguez.

Top throwing arm honors go to Ewing, Bennett, Archer, Mackay, Bench.

Top Bats go to Gibson, Piazza, Bench, Santop Loftin. Most could hit well. The only light hitters were Bennett, Kling and Archer, Schalk, both Bergens.

Quote: Ted "Double Duty" Radcliffe:
"I played with both Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson on the Crawfords. They say Josh Gibson was the greatest catcher. Josh was not the greatest catcher; he was the greatest hitter. We had 5 or 6 men who could outcatch him. Josh couldn't receive with Larry Brown or Frank Duncan or Biz Mackey or Roy Campanella or any of those fellows. Of course I wouldn't include myself because that wouldn't be right, but they thought a lot of me, because I caught more East-West games than anybody." (Voices From The Great Black Baseball Leagues, by John Holway, 1975, pp. 171-172)

(One may include Bruce Petway & Louis "Santop" Loftin in the group of those Negro L. catchers who could outcatch Josh Gibson.)
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On January 12, 1894, at the age of 39, while still active as a ballplayer, Charlie Bennett was run over by a train at Wellsville, KS, and had to have both his legs amputated. Detroit's ballpark was subsequently named after Charlie.
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On January 19, 1900, at the age of 28, Martin Bergen, due to mental illness, killed his wife, daughter, son and himself.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
On May 25, 1937, at the age of 34, Mickey Cochrane was hit in the head by a fastball, and that ended his career abruptly.
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At 3:34 AM, January 28, 1958, at the age of 36, Roy Campanella was driving home to Long Island, NY, from his store in Harlem, when his car hit a slick spot, and he hit a telephone pole. Pinned upside down for 30 minutes, his 5th & 6th cervical vertebrae were fractured and dislocated. Paralyzed from the chest down.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On August 2, 1979, at the age of 31, Thurman Munson was killed in a plane crash.
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On January 20, 1947, Josh Gibson died in Pittsburgh, PA, at the age of 35, of a stroke. Some allege that it was facilitated by alcoholism, chronic depression, and possibly non-prescription drug abuse.
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538280 graciously shared this with us.

The 2005 ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia has data on SB and CS off catchers for all of baseball history going back to the 1890s (no Buck Ewing data is perhaps the most notable they're missing). But this was data considered unavailable until this now as far as I know. Anyway they present percentages above average for catchers in stolen bases allowed per inning. This is the best way to gauge stopping the running game because CS per inning often has the best catchers low because teams rarely run on them. By using 'steals allowed per inning' we not only see the catcher's actual performance in shutting down the running game but also how often other teams attempted, which can also show how other teams thought the catcher could throw. Anyway here are some marks for some notables (just like other relative stats, 140 is 40% above average, 80 20% below, you all know how that works):

Ivan Rodriguez; 203 (through 2004)
Johnny Bench: 170
Roy Campanella: 153
Thurman Munson: 153
Gabby Hartnett: 138
Ray Schalk: 130
Bill Dickey: 130
Martin Bergen: 126
Del Crandall: 126
Jimmy Archer: 122
Gary Carter: 120
Yogi Berra: 115
Johnny Kling: 115
Joe Torre: 110
Mickey Cochrane: 109
Carlton Fisk: 107
Roger Bresnahan: 106
Gene Tenace: 105
Ernie Lombardi: 102
Bill Bergen: 99
Ted Simmons: 97
Mike Piazza: 78 (through 2004)
------------------------------------------------
............OPS+....Rel.ISO.....EqA.....BRAR.....B RAR/650
Bench.....126.......169........291.......589...... ...44.16
Berra.......125.......153.......288.......523..... ....40.64
Piazza.....144.......155.......314.......705...... ....60.87
Ewing....130.......155.......289.......377...... ...42.42
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Name--Year of inclusion in their All-Time All-Star teams.
supporters - 18-------------supporters - 50-------------supporters - 34
Buck Ewing----------------Mickey Cochrane------------Bill Dickey

Billy Sunday,Jan.24,09-------Ban Johnson,29------------W.Johnson 34
Cap Anson,-Jun.17----------William Hanna,30-----------Fred Logan =38
Sam Crane,Apr.18-----------George Sisler,Ap.31---------Bill Coughlin 41
Monty Ward, BE,25----------George Moriarty,33---------Joe Dugan 42
Francis C. Richter,Fe,26------Hugh Fullerton=35----------Ed Rumill 42
William B. Hanna=26----------Jim Nasium,35--------------Waite Hoyt =42
John B. Sheridan=28---------E.A. Batchelor,Apr.39-------Grant Rice 43
John McGraw,31-------------Jimmy Isaminger,41---------Duffy Lewis 45
Joe Vila,34------------------Zach Wheat,41-------------Ford Frick =45
John B. Foster,BE38---------Hal Chase,41---------------Tom Yawkey =45
Fred Logan,=38-------------Bill Coughlin,------41--------Dan Daniel 45
John Drebinger,38-----------Muddy Ruel,42--------------Steve O'Neil 50
Mickey Welch,BE,39---------Del Baker,42----------------Connie Mack,50
Amos Rusie,39--------------Dolly Stark,42---------------John Kieran, 50
Nick Altrock,42-------------Joe Dugan,42----------------Ken Smith, 52
Arlie Latham,52-------------Ed Rumill,42-----------------Arlie Latham,52
Clark Griffith,52-------------Ward Morehouse,42----------Clark Griffith = 52
John McCarthy,94-----------Waite Hoyt,=42--------------Bill McGowan,54
----------------------------Tris Speaker,44--------------Ed Burkholder,55
----------------------------Ford Frick,=45--------------Ed Walsh, 57
----------------------------Joe Williams,46--------------Dazzy Vance, 61
----------------------------Conie Mack,50--------------Casey Stengel,61
----------------------------Eddie Collins,50-------------Ty Cobb, 61
----------------------------John Kieran,50--------------Rogers Hornsby,62
----------------------------Clark Griffith,= 52-----------John Ogden, 63
----------------------------Bill McGowan,----54--------Tommy Holmes,64
----------------------------Frank Baker,55-------------Fred Lieb, 77
----------------------------Ed Burkholder,55------------Paul Richards, 77
----------------------------Nap Lajoie,56---------------Doc Cramer, 85
-----------------------------Ed Walsh,57---------------Whitey Witt, 85
-----------------------------Ty Cobb,61----------------Joe Sewell, 87
-----------------------------Casey Stengel,61-----------Ken Keltner, 87
-----------------------------Rogers Hornsby,62----------George Selkirk, 87
-----------------------------John Ogden,63--------------Whitlow Wyatt,87
-----------------------------Branch Rickey,65
-----------------------------Jimmy Dykes,67
-----------------------------Lefty Grove,74
-----------------------------Fred Lieb,=77
-----------------------------George Kelly,84
-----------------------------Mark Koenig,85
-----------------------------Frank Ellerbe,85
-----------------------------Jocko Conlon,85
-----------------------------Billy Rogell,85
-----------------------------Doc Cramer,85
-----------------------------Rip Sewell,87
-----------------------------Buck Leonard,87
-----------------------------Buck Jordan,87
-----------------------------Charles Gehringer,87
-----------------------------Steve Wulf,92
-----------------------------Shirley Povich,97

Bill Burgess
11-18-2007, 12:05 PM
Freakshow contributed this nice addition.

The top 16 in games at catcher, through 1892, with year retired:
894 C. Bennett '93
877 P. Snyder '91
743 S. Flint '89
668 D. Bushong '90
646 J. Clements '00
635 B. Ewing '97
566 K. Kelly '93
542 J. Milligan '93
538 B. Holbert '88
534 W. Robinson '02
516 C. Zimmer '03
486 C. Mack '96
472 J. Clapp '83
461 D. Miller '96
459 B. Gilligan '88
458 D. White '90

By 1900, four catchers had reached the 1000 mark.
The top 18 in games at catcher, through 1900, with year retired:
1171 D. McGuire '08
1162 W. Robinson '02
1095 C. Zimmer '03
1073 J. Clements '00
954 C. Bennett '93
877 P. Snyder '91
815 D. Farrell '05
743 S. Flint '89
739 M. Kittridge '06
668 D. Bushong '90
636 B. Ewing '97
636 D. Miller '96
630 P. Schriver '01
609 C. Mack '96
605 J. O'Connor '07
595 H. Peitz '06
585 J. Milligan '93
583 K. Kelly '93
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Most win shares "gold gloves", catcher
9 Ray Schalk
8 Gary Carter
6 Gabby Hartnett
6 Ivan Rodriguez
5 Yogi Berra
5 Roy Campanella
5 Mickey Cochrane
5 Bill Dickey
5 Bill Freehan
5 Bill Killefer
5 Jim Sundberg

In the 19th century, only Charlie Bennett, Buck Ewing and Pop Snyder led catchers in their league in defensive excellence four times. No catcher in history did it for a fifth time until Ray Schalk, at the end of the deadball era.

A few things to note. Johnny Bench and Ivan Rodriguez have the most actual gold glove awards, I believe. Bench has 4 win shares gold gloves.

Also, Roy Campanella won 5 win shares gold gloves, but didn't reach the majors until he was 26 because of the ban on black players; it's possible he'd won one or two more if he'd debuted a few years earlier.

Lance Parrish, Ossie Schreckengost and Jim Hegan join the 19th century triumvirate (mentioned above) and Bench as the only players with 4 win shares gold gloves.

Johnny Kling garnered 3.

Jimmie Archer and Billy Sullivan won a single "gold glove" each while Marty Bergen never led his league in defensive wizardry behind the plate.

This isn't the final word on how good those players were defensively, but it's one way of examining things and I thought I'd pass the info along as I got it.
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Win Shares Gold Gloves - Catchers

The Slaff: Aug. 22, 2005; 11:45 AM; Join Date: Jan., 2003; Posts: 269;
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1876 J. Clapp / D. White
1877 Lew Brown
1878 Pop Snyder
1879 Pop Snyder
1880 Silver Flint
1881 Charlie Bennett
1882 Charlie Bennett … Pop Snyder (AA)
1883 Doc Bushong / Barney Gilligan … Bill Holbert (AA)
1884 Buck Ewing … Pop Snyder (AA) … George Baker (UA)
1885 Buck Ewing … Doc Bushong (AA)
1886 Charlie Bennett … Doc Bushong (AA)
1887 Tom Daly … Kid Baldwin (AA)
1888 Buck Ewing … Wilbert Robinson (AA)
1889 Buck Ewing … W. Robinson / Jack Boyle (AA)
1890 Charlie Bennett … Jack O'Connor (AA) … Duke Farrell (PL)
1891 Chief Zimmer … Morgan Murphy (AA)
1892 Chief Zimmer
1893 John Grim
1894 Duke Farrell
1895 Deacon McGuire
1896 Ed McFarland / C. Zimmer
1897 John Warner
1898 Lou Criger
1899 Ed McFarland
1900 Ed McFarland
1901 Malachi Kittridge … Billy Sullivan
1902 Johnny Kling … Ossee Schreckengost
1903 Pat Moran … Lou Criger
1904 Admiral Schlei / J. Kling … D. McGuire / L. Criger
1905 Red Dooin … Ossee Schreckengost
1906 Johnny Kling … Ossee Schreckengost
1907 Red Dooin … Ossee Schreckengost
1908 Red Dooin … Boss Schmidt
1909 George Gibson … Ira Thomas
1910 George Gibson … Jack Lapp
1911 Chief Meyers … Ira Thomas
1912 Jimmy Archer … John Henry
1913 Bill Killefer … Ray Schalk
1914 Bill Killefer … Ray Schalk … Walter Blair (FL)
1915 Frank Snyder … Ray Schalk … Bill Rariden (FL)
1916 Hank Gowdy … Ray Schalk
1917 Bill Killefer … Ray Schalk
1918 B. Killefer / Walter Schmidt … Steve O'Neill
1919 Bill Killefer … Ray Schalk
1920 Mickey O'Neill … Ray Schalk
1921 Walter Schmidt … Ray Schalk
1922 Bob O'Farrell … Ray Schalk
1923 Frank Snyder … Muddy Ruel
1924 Zack Taylor … Muddy Ruel
1925 Frank Snyder … Muddy Ruel
1926 Bob O'Farrell … Luke Sewell
1927 Gabby Hartnett … Mickey Cochrane
1928 Gabby Hartnett … Mickey Cochrane
1929 Jimmie Wilson … Mickey Cochrane
1930 Gabby Hartnett … Mickey Cochrane
1931 Jimmie Wilson … Bill Dickey
1932 Earl Grace … Mickey Cochrane
1933 Gabby Hartnett … Rick Ferrell
1934 Gabby Hartnett … Rick Ferrell
1935 Gabby Hartnett … Bill Dickey
1936 Gus Mancuso … Luke Sewell
1937 Al Lopez / G. Hartnett … Bill Dickey
1938 Al Todd … Rudy York
1939 Harry Danning … Bill Dickey
1940 Harry Danning … Rollie Hemsley
1941 Mickey Owen … Bill Dickey
1942 Mickey Owen … Birdie Tebbetts
1943 Ray Mueller … Paul Richards
1944 Ray Mueller … Frankie Hayes
1945 Ken O'Dea … Frankie Hayes
1946 Ray Mueller … Buddy Rosar
1947 Bruce Edwards … Buddy Rosar
1948 Del Rice … Jim Hegan
1949 Roy Campanella … Jim Hegan
1950 Wes Westrum … Jim Hegan
1951 Roy Campanella … Yogi Berra
1952 Del Rice … Yogi Berra
1953 Roy Campanella … Sammy White
1954 Del Crandall … Jim Hegan
1955 Roy Campanella … Sherm Lollar
1956 Ed Bailey … Yogi Berra
1957 Roy Campanella … Yogi Berra
1958 Del Crandall … Yogi Berra
1959 Del Crandall … Sherm Lollar
1960 Hal Smith … Sherm Lollar
1961 Johnny Roseboro … Earl Battey
1962 Johnny Edwards … Earl Battey
1963 Johnny Edwards … Earl Battey
1964 Johnny Edwards … Elston Howard
1965 Tom Haller … Bill Freehan
1966 Johnny Roseboro … Bill Freehan
1967 Tim McCarver … Buck Rodgers
1968 Johnny Bench … Bill Freehan
1969 Randy Hundley … Bill Freehan
1970 Johnny Bench … George Mitterwald
1971 Manny Sanguillen … Bill Freehan
1972 Duffy Dyer … Ed Herrmann
1973 J. Bench / Joe Ferguson … Thurman Munson
1974 Johnny Bench … Glenn Borgmann
1975 Steve Yeager … Brian Downing
1976 Johnny Bench … Jim Sundberg
1977 Gary Carter … Jim Sundberg
1978 Gary Carter … Jim Sundberg
1979 Gary Carter … Jim Sundberg
1980 Gary Carter … Rick Cerone
1981 Gary Carter … Jim Sundberg
1982 Gary Carter … Bob Boone
1983 Gary Carter … Lance Parrish
1984 Tony Pena … Lance Parrish
1985 Gary Carter … Bob Boone
1986 G. Carter / Jody Davis … Rich Gedman
1987 Mike Scioscia … Ernie Whitt
1988 Tony Pena … Andy Allenson
1989 Mike Scioscia … Bob Boone
1990 Darren Daulton … Lance Parrish
1991 Tom Pagnozzi … Lance Parrish
1992 Joe Oliver … Ivan Rodriguez
1993 Rick Wilkins … Ron Karkovice
1994 Benito Santiago … Terry Steinbach
1995 Joe Girardi … Ivan Rodriguez
1996 Charles Johnson … Ivan Rodriguez
1997 Charles Johnson … Ivan Rodriguez
1998 Javier Lopez … Ivan Rodriguez
1999 Mike Lieberthal … Ivan Rodriguez
2000 Mike Matheny … Brad Ausmus
2001 Brad Ausmus … Einar Diaz
2002 Brad Ausmus … Bengie Molina
2003 Brian Schneider … Ramon Hernandez
2004 Brian Schneider … Damian Miller
__________________
The Slaff Aug. 24, 2005, 11:47 AM Join Date: Jan 2003; Posts: 269

Win Shares Gold Gloves: Catchers
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Number of times:

9x - Gary Carter, Ray Schalk

7x - Gabby Hartnett

6x - Ivan Rodriguez

5x - Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey, Bill Freehan, Bill Killefer, Jim Sundberg

4x - Charlie Bennett, Buck Ewing, Jim Hegan, Lance Parrish, Ossee Schreckengost, Pop Snyder

3x - Brad Ausmus, Earl Battey, Doc Bushong, Del Crandall, Lou Criger, Bob Boone, Red Dooin, Johnny Edwards, Johnny Kling, Sherm Lollar, Ed McFarland, Ray Mueller, Muddy Ruel, Frank Snyder, Chief Zimmer

2x - Harry Danning, Duke Farrell, Rick Ferrell, George Gibson, Frankie Hayes, Charles Johnson, Deacon McGuire, Bob O'Farrell, Mickey Owen, Tony Pena, Wilbert Robinson, Buddy Rosar, Johnny Roseboro, Walter Schmidt, Brian Schneider, Mike Scioscia, Luke Sewell, Ira Thomas, Jimmie Wilson

1x - Andy Allenson, Jimmy Archer, Ed Bailey, George Baker, Kid Baldwin, Walter Blair, Glenn Borgmann, Jack Boyle, Lew Brown, Rick Cerone, John Clapp, Tom Daly, Darren Daulton, Jody Davis, Einar Diaz, Brian Downing, Duffy Dyer, Bruce Edwards, Joe Ferguson, Silver Flint, Rich Gedman, Barney Gill, Joe Girardi, Hank Gowdy, Earl Grace, John Grim, Tom Haller, Rollie Hemsley, John Henry, Ramon Hernandez, Ed Herrmann, Bill Holbert, Elston Howard, Randy Hundley, Ron Karkovice, Malachi Kittridge, Jack Lapp, Mike Lieberthal, Al Lopez, Javier Lopez, Gus Mancuso, Mike Matheny, Tim McCarver, Chief Meyers, Damian Miller, George Mitterwald, Bengie Molina, Pat Moran, Thurman Munson, Morgan Murphy, Jack O'Connor, Ken O'Dea, Joe Oliver, Mickey O'Neill, Steve O'Neill, Tom Pagnozzi, Bill Rariden, Del Rice, Paul Richards, Buck Rodgers, Manny Sanguillen, Benito Santiago, Admiral Schlei, Boss Schmidt, Terry Steinbach, Hal Smith, Billy Sullivan, Zack Taylor, Birdie Tebbetts, Al Todd, John Warner, Wes Westrum, Deacon White, Sammy White, Ernie Whitt, Rick Wilkins, Steve Yeager, Rudy York
__________________
It took those informations in Bill James "Win Shares: Digital Update" available at stats-inc website.

Yearly win shares leaders are listed...
-Top 10 overall
-Top 5 pitching win shares
-Top 5 batting win shares
-Top 5 defensive win shares for every position .
...1876 through 2001
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
Some Pre-1900 Catchers Caught Infrequently:

In the ancient times, pre-1900, many great catchers played very few games behind the plate. Many played other positions, due to the stress that crouching placed on their knees. A few of their records are:

"Deacon" James White: caught 226 g, out of 1299 total
Buck Ewing: caught 636 g, out of 1315 total, almost all in '80's. After that he lost his arm, and played 1B/OF in 90's.
Jim O'Rourke: caught 209 g, out of 1774
Mike "King" Kelly: caught 583 g, out of 1455. Mostly OF throughout career.
Roger Bresnahan: caught 974 g, out of 1446. Mostly OF otherwise.
Marty Bergen: caught 337 g, out of 344. Only played 4 seasons, 1896-99, before his mental illness caused him to take his own & his families lives.
Charlie Bennet: caught 954 g, out of 1062. OF otherwise.
----------------------------------------------------------------
League schedules in those days were not the 154 games that came in later.

1883 ------- 100 games
1884, 1885 - 115 games
1886, 1887 - 125 games
1887-1891 - 135 games
1892 ------ 154 games
1893-1897 - 135 games
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So that was my post back when. And then AG2004 rebutted me nicely with this following rejoiner.

And let's not forget (just among those playing sometime in 1887)
Pop Snyder: caught 877 g, out of 930 (including National Association games).
Jack Clements: caught 1073 g, out of 1157.
Chief Zimmer: caught 1239 g, out of 1280.
Wilbert Robinson: caught 1316 g, out of 1371.
Deacon McGuire: caught 1611 g, out of 1781.

However, I'm wondering what happened to Ewing himself in 1887. Here are the number of games in which the following people caught for the (NL) club that season:

Williard Brown - 46. 21-year-old rookie.
Jim O'Rourke - 40. 36-year-old; one of only three seasons where he caught more than 15 games, and the only one where he played more games at catcher than at any other single position.
Pat Deasley - 24.
Pat Murphy - 17. 30-year-old making his first major league appearances.
Buck Ewing - 8.

Ewing played 19 games at 2nd and 51 at 3rd. This is in the middle of Ewing's prime years as a catcher, remember. Jim O'Rourke appeared in 38 games at 3rd that year, so it seems that Ewing could have had more appearances at catcher and O'Rourke could have had more appearances at third that season.

The 1887 season doesn't seem consistent with Ewing's being the greatest catcher ever. Does anyone know why Ewing was playing 3rd so often that year instead of catching?
----------------------------------------
Mark Leece contributed this nice, brief post.
http://baseball-fever.com/showpost.php?p=713187&postcount=37
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And Coop this one.
http://baseball-fever.com/showpost.php?p=713145&postcount=32

http://baseball-fever.com/showpost.php?p=714181&postcount=45
----------------------------------------------------

:
Games Total
Player as C Games % as C Debut
================================================== =
Deacon McGuire 1611 1781 90.5 1884-06-21
Wilbert Robinson 1316 1371 96.0 1886-04-19
Chief Zimmer 1239 1280 96.8 1884-07-18
Jack Clements 1073 1157 92.7 1884-04-22
Duke Farrell 1003 1563 64.2 1888-04-21
Charlie Bennett 954 1062 89.8 1878-05-01
Jack O'Connor 860 1451 59.3 1887-04-20
Pop Schriver 654 800 81.8 1886-04-29
Buck Ewing 636 1315 48.4 1880-09-09
Doggie Miller 636 1317 48.3 1884-05-01
Connie Mack 609 723 84.2 1886-09-11
Jocko Milligan 585 772 75.8 1884-05-01
King Kelly 583 1455 40.1 1878-05-01
Charlie Ganzel 578 786 73.5 1884-09-27
John Grim 578 706 81.9 1888-09-29
Farmer Vaughn 553 915 60.4 1886-10-07
Con Daily 550 630 87.3 1884-06-09
Jack Boyle 544 1086 50.1 1886-10-08
Bill Holbert 538 623 86.4 1876-09-05
Jack Ryan 527 616 85.6 1889-09-02

Bill Burgess
11-18-2007, 04:24 PM
Brad Harris (Chancellor's) analysis of catchers:

Bennett was regarded as the best catcher (i.e. not player as Buck Ewing or Roger Bresnahan were, but catcher) of the 19th century (and on into the deadball era.)

Ewing played more games at catcher than at other positions in the following seasons: 1881, 1883-86, 1888-90. In total, Ewing was behind the plate for only 636 out of 1,345 games. Bennett, on the other hand, played 954 of 1,084 career games at catcher.

Ewing, interestingly enough, is also credited with 4 "gold gloves" (as determined by defensive win shares), the same number as Bennett.

I poured over Win Shares for a few minutes, gathering the following:

From 1881-83, Charlie Bennett was the best catcher in the National League each of those three seasons. (Buck Ewing was usually second-best.)

From 1884-86 and from 1888-89 Buck Ewing was the best catcher in the National League each of those five seasons. (Charlie Bennett was usually second-best.) Also, in 1890, Buck Ewing was the best catcher in the Players League.

From 1881-89 either Bennett or Ewing was the best catcher in the NL with the sole exception of 1887, when Jim O'Rourke played 40 games at catcher, more than at any other position. (O'Rourke also played 38 games at third and 28 games in the outfield.) If you wanted a minimum percent of games played to qualify, then, you could technically crown Ewing the best catcher in the NL that year, too.

In their declining years in the 1890s, both Bennett and Ewing were eclipsed by Chief Zimmer, Jack Clements and Duke Farrell as the best catchers in baseball.

For a little over a decade, however, Bennett and Ewing were neck-and-neck as the best catchers in the game.

Editors Note: After Bill's comments made me look I must concede that Ewing's value as a catcher is diminished somewhat less by his 636 games than I had first thought.

Of the three names you mentioned - Bennett, Ewing and Kelly - I would have to rate them as offensive players in the following order:

Mike "King" Kelly
Buck Ewing
Charlie Bennett

Ewing, who is closer to Kelly than to Bennett offensively, played many more seasons primarily as a catcher and finished his career with more games at catcher than anywhere else (though he, too, was used at a number of other positions on a regular basis.)

Bennett was a full-time catcher, but his OPS+ of 118, while much better than most players, wasn't as good as Ewing - even if you just include Ewing's "catcher seasons".

So, I'd rate Ewing an edge over Bennett where I would tend to keep Kelly out of the ratings at all (though he was a better hitter than Ewing, if you're just talking about offensive ability.

Also...I would rate Deacon White in between Ewing and Bennett. White was the best catcher of the early years of professional baseball and was one of the game's first stars.

In the 19th century, only Charlie Bennett, Buck Ewing and Pop Snyder led catchers in their league in defensive excellence four times. No catcher in history did it for a fifth time until Ray Schalk, at the end of the deadball era.
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Brad Harris (Chancellor) contributed this gem in the historical section, to the thread, "The Greatest Catcher Ever", post #47, on July 30, 2004, 01:43PM

And it still sparkles with insight. An Impacted Life Join Date: Sep 2002, Posts: 2,493

I'll stick with Johnny Bench.

Bench is still considered, by a majority of people, to have most likely been the greatest defensive catcher in history. His offensive contributions are extremely underrated because of the era in which he played. Bench was the leader of his teams (not Rose, not Morgan, not Perez). Bench played in baseball's most balanced competitive climate ever and was twice named the Most Valuable Player in the league. Bench played against integrated competition whereas most catchers on these lists did not.

The only knock against Bench is his problems with his knees which forced him to move to first base for a few years, prolonging his career, but dropping his rate stats where he is compared to an average player (like TPR). Personally, I think in discussing who the "greatest" is, we are primarily discussing how great someone was at their peak. Bench's peak is certainly the most impressive of anyone on this list, in my opinion. At least when you consider all the surrounding factors (like environment and quality of competition).

The only two catchers I might rank as high are Buck Ewing and Josh Gibson and I'll tell you why I continue to select Bench over either of them.

Buck Ewing was certainly the greatest catcher in baseball history from the time he played until the Age of Messers. Cochrane, Hartnett and Dickey. Ewing was certainly one of the best players (regardless of position) of his era. However, Ewing was born before the Civil War and died at the age of 47, shortly after his retirement from the game. He certainly wasn't as physically gifted as Bench (or any great athlete born more than a hundred years later.) The competition Ewing faced wasn't necessarily the best in the country at that time as the many of the top "minor" league teams and players were of "major league" caliber. Ewing never had to face the top black or latino athletes in the hemisphere, either. In terms of dominating their respective eras, I can see where Ewing might be considered better than Bench, but in terms of the quality of baseball being played in those eras and doing cross-era comparisons of the all-time greats, I don't see how Ewing could be considered better than Bench at all. Bench excelled against a much higher level of competition, making his dominance more impressive (in my opinion.) Finally, on a defensive note, the catcher's position wasn't quite the same as living fans are prone to think of today and I believe that great defense behind the plate in the 1880s and 1890s is less impressive than great defense behind the plate in the modern era.

Josh Gibson, on the other hand, is less well-documented by meaningful and accurate statistics than the major leaguers we're comparing. Though the anecdotal (and available statistical) evidence is useful to an extent and, no doubt, very impressive, Gibson played primarily in an era that was hitter-friendly in the major leagues and didn't play in the organized "white" leagues. No doubt the competition he faced was top-notch, but Gibson's absence from the major leagues (through no fault of his own) makes comparing him to Bench an extremely difficult exercise if one is to be fair to all sides. Personally, I have Gibson rated as the #2 catcher of all-time, right behind Bench (with almost no room to spare) and I'm sure that if Gibson had played in an integrated major leagues that he would have been considered the greatest catcher in history at least until the time Bench played (if not still). However, I can't accurately project Gibson as the #1 catcher without feeling as though I'm stretching the analysis and giving extra credit because I want to believe the results.

Putting Ewing or Gibson over Bench requires adopting a line of reasoning that I'm uncomfortable with and feel would be wrong-headed in such a comparison. I have to stick with Bench. Gibson #2. Ewing is #5 in my book (after Berra and Cochrane).

1. Bench 2. Gibson 3. Berra 4. Cochrane 5. Ewing
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Chancellor on Catchers:

Brad Harris (Chancellor) contributed this scintillating analysis in the Hall of Fame Talk section, on the thread, "Best Players not in the Hall of Fame", page 5, post# 101, on February 9, 2004, 1:53PM:

Munson had a 116 OPS+ in 5,900 plate appearances. Bennett had a slightly higher OPS+ in roughly 1,500 fewer PAs. The difference, however, in playing time has everything to do with the eras in which they played.

Munson played regularly from 1970-78 and was the "starting" catcher in 1979, when injuries made him miss 65 games. For Munson, he was a starter at the age of 23 and died (in the second-half of his career) at the age of 32.

Bennett was the starting catcher on his teams from 1881-91, through eleven seasons (as opposed to Munson's 10). Quite simply, if the season had been 162 games in the 1880s, Bennett would very likely have at least as many PAs as did Munson.

So I think, in the context of their times, it is reasonable to say that their offense is a wash. Munson was a horrible baserunner. He stole 48 bases in 11 seasons, but was caught stealing 50 times! Bennett, on the other hand, stole 42 bases from the age of 31 on; there's no verifiable data on CS for those years or for SB totals prior to 1886. It isn't difficult to imagine that Bennett's career steals would look a little bit better if all the data were available. For now, let's call that a wash too.

So how about their defense? Well...Munson won 3 gold gloves. Bennett, playing many generations before the award was invented, won none of course.

According to defensive win shares, however, Bennett should have won 4 - in 1881-82, 1886 and 1890. And Munson? Defensive win shares point to a pair of undeserved awards; Munson shouldn't have received the prize in 1974-75. For their careers? Bennett receives an "A" while Munson is graded at a "B minus".

Of course, Munson received important hardware in 1976 when he was part of the first Yankee team to win a pennant in twelve years. The AL MVP that year, however, should have gone to someone else. Graig Nettles, Mickey Rivers and Roy White all had better seasons than Munson in 1976 -- and those were just his teammates. The best player in the AL in 1976 was among George Brett, Rod Carew and Bobby Grich. Brett led the league with 33 win shares - 9 more than Munson and there were a total of 21 players who had as much or more value than Munson did to their respective teams.

This isn't meant so much as a disaccreditation of hardware in modern baseball so much as it is to point out that the absence of hardware in an era before those awards were given regularly is no more/less telling than a few awards in modern baseball because, after all, even voters miss the mark from time to time.

Munson has a point in his column for his excellent post-season play. Bennett also won 2 post-season championships (and with two different teams) and had 13 hits and 10 RBIs in the 13 post-season games he appeared in.

So it looks like Munson and Bennett are basically a tie. And here's where we leave Munson behind.

Bennett was regarded as the best catcher (i.e. not player as Buck Ewing or Roger Bresnahan were, but catcher) of the 19th century (and on into the deadball era.)

Bennett meets 26.3 of the Hall of Fame's standards (where an "average" Hall of Famer meets 50.0), but Munson - playing in an era with over 50% more games per season - met only 29.5.

Of course, just as Munson's career was ended prematurely by the plane crash, so Bennett's career was abruptly interrupted by his losing both legs in an accident when he slipped crossing train tracks in 1894. Bennett was, in fact, so highly thought-of at the time that his former team, the Detroit Wolverines (later Tigers), named their ballpark after him; to this day Bennett remains the only player ever to receive that honor.
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Brad Harris (Chancellor) contributed this jewel of an analysis in the Hall of Fame Talk section, on the thread, "Best Players not in the Hall of Fame", page 5, post# 103, on February 9, 2004, 4:05PM:

Ewing played more games at catcher than at other positions in the following seasons: 1881, 1883-86, 1888-90. In total, Ewing was behind the plate for only 636 out of 1,345 games. Bennett, on the other hand, played 954 of 1,084 career games at catcher.

Ewing, interestingly enough, is also credited with 4 "gold gloves" (as determined by defensive win shares), the same number as Bennett.

I poured over Win Shares for a few minutes, gathering the following:

From 1881-83, Charlie Bennett was the best catcher in the National League each of those three seasons. (Buck Ewing was usually second-best.)

From 1884-86 and from 1888-89 Buck Ewing was the best catcher in the National League each of those five seasons. (Charlie Bennett was usually second-best.) Also, in 1890, Buck Ewing was the best catcher in the Players League.

From 1881-89 either Bennett or Ewing was the best catcher in the NL with the sole exception of 1887, when Jim O'Rourke played 40 games at catcher, more than at any other position. (O'Rourke also played 38 games at third and 28 games in the outfield.) If you wanted a minimum percent of games played to qualify, then, you could technically crown Ewing the best catcher in the NL that year, too.

In their declining years in the 1890s, both Bennett and Ewing were eclipsed by Chief Zimmer, Jack Clements and Duke Farrell as the best catchers in baseball.

For a little over a decade, however, Bennett and Ewing were neck-and-neck as the best catchers in the game.

Editors Note: After Bill's comments made me look I must concede that Ewing's value as a catcher is diminished somewhat less by his 636 games than I had first thought.
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Brad Harris (Chancellor) contributed this scintillating analysis in the Hall of Fame Talk section, on the thread, "Best Players not in the Hall of Fame", page 5, post# 109, on February 11, 2004, 8:47AM:

Of the three names you mentioned - Bennett, Ewing and Kelly - I would have to rate them as offensive players in the following order:

Mike "King" Kelly
Buck Ewing
Charlie Bennett

However, Kelly played more games in the outfield than at catcher and, in fact, is categorized in the Hall of Fame as a rightfielder, not as a catcher. Only 5 of Kelly's 16 seasons saw him play at catcher more games than at any other position. And those were 5 of his final 6 years. Kelly barely amassed 1,600 plate appearances in those seasons so it really would be fair to include him in this discussion of great hitting catchers of the nineteenth century.

Ewing, who is closer to Kelly than to Bennett offensively, played many more seasons primarily as a catcher and finished his career with more games at catcher than anywhere else (though he, too, was used at a number of other positions on a regular basis.)

Bennett was a full-time catcher, but his OPS+ of 118, while much better than most players, wasn't as good as Ewing - even if you just include Ewing's "catcher seasons".

So, I'd rate Ewing an edge over Bennett where I would tend to keep Kelly out of the ratings at all (though he was a better hitter than Ewing, if you're just talking about offensive ability.

Also...I would rate Deacon White in between Ewing and Bennett. White was the best catcher of the early years of professional baseball and was one of the game's first stars.

I also happen to think White belongs in the Hall of Fame.
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Bill asked Chancellor this question.
I was wondering how you'd rate Jimmie Archer, Martin Bergen, and Billy Sullivan defensively? I think it would be a great service to make a small file on pre-1900 catchers. And throw in Johnny Kling into the mix just to mix it up with spice. All in all, how would you rate the top 10 19th century catchers, both defensively and offensively with Kling added in.
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Brad Harris (Chancellor) contributed this scintillating analysis in the Hall of Fame Talk section, on the thread, "Best Players not in the Hall of Fame", page 5, post# 116, on February 16, 2004, 10:50PM:

Good questions all.

I'll get to some of them after a little more research. Suffice it to say at the moment that I've compiled a list of the best defensive catcher in each league/season from 1876-2003. This is, essentially, a list of the most "gold gloves", though in fact it ignores actual gold gloves won in favor of who win shares said was the best (as opposed to the subjectivity of the voters). This is a measurement of defense only.

Most win shares "gold gloves", catcher
9 Ray Schalk
8 Gary Carter
6 Gabby Hartnett
6 Ivan Rodriguez
5 Yogi Berra
5 Roy Campanella
5 Mickey Cochrane
5 Bill Dickey
5 Bill Freehan
5 Bill Killefer
5 Jim Sundberg

In the 19th century, only Charlie Bennett, Buck Ewing and Pop Snyder led catchers in their league in defensive excellence four times. No catcher in history did it for a fifth time until Ray Schalk, at the end of the deadball era.

A few things to note. Johnny Bench and Ivan Rodriguez have the most actual gold glove awards, I believe. Bench has 4 win shares gold gloves.

Also, Roy Campanella won 5 win shares gold gloves, but didn't reach the majors until he was 26 because of the ban on black players; it's possible he'd won one or two more if he'd debuted a few years earlier.

Lance Parrish, Ossie Schreckengost and Jim Hegan join the 19th century triumvirate (mentioned above) and Bench as the only players with 4 win shares gold gloves.

Johnny Kling garnered 3.

Jimmie Archer and Billy Sullivan won a single "gold glove" each while Marty Bergen never led his league in defensive wizardry behind the plate.

This isn't the final word on how good those players were defensively, but it's one way of examining things and I thought I'd pass the info along as I got it.

Bill Burgess
11-18-2007, 04:42 PM
AstrosFan has contributed this wonderful hitting chart of relative stats for catchers.

FN PA AB----Rel.BA--Rel.OnB-Rel.Slg.-Rel.ISO--OPS+
King Kelly 6455 5894 119 116.5 125.4 143.4 141.9
Mike Piazza 7416 6602 114.7 111.3 128.9 153.1 140.2
Mickey Cochrane 6055 5169 110.1 116.3 114.3 123.7 130.6
Buck Ewing 5764 5363 111.7 106.3 123.6 157 129.9
Roy Campanella 4786 4205 102.9 106 121.3 155.8 127.3
Johnny Bench 8658 7658 101.8 103.6 123.4 169.5 127
Gabby Hartnett 7170 6432 103.6 106.6 120.2 160.2 126.8
Bill Dickey 7009 6300 110.5 107.6 118.2 135.3 125.8
Ernie Lombardi 6331 5855 111.3 105.7 118.5 135.8 124.2
Roger Bresnahan 5262 4481 104.6 116.7 107.2 115.3 123.9
Yogi Berra 8355 7555 107.6 102 121.7 150 123.7
Carlton Fisk 9827 8756 103 103.9 116.6 143.6 120.5
Charlie Bennett 4310 3821 99.5 109 111.2 144.4 120.2
Gary Carter 8986 7971 99.9 101.5 113 140.5 114.5
Ivan Rodriguez 8298 7745 112.7 101 113.3 114.4 114.3
Thurman Munson 5882 5344 112.6 105.9 107 95.2 112.9
Johnny Bassler 2766 2319 105.7 116.8 91.2 53.1 108
Johnny Kling 4534 4241 102.3 96.4 102.4 102.5 98.8
Jimmy Archer 2787 2644 95.7 88.7 96.9 100.5 85.6
Ray Schalk 6003 5306 90.4 97.3 82.5 60.7 79.8
Marty Bergen 1340 1278 92.1 85.2 91.8 90.9 77

DiMag4Life
11-18-2007, 07:47 PM
The first great catcher. I feel his only detractor was his constant injuries.

Bill Burgess
01-14-2008, 08:06 PM
Buck Ewing: Baseball Library write-up.

When the doors of the Baseball Hall of Fame were first opened, in 1939, Buck Ewing's plaque was ready to go up on the wall. Elected by the Committee on Baseball Veterans, Ewing had simply been baseball's best catcher and, according to his contemporaries, was unequaled as an all-around player in the 19th century. Until Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey, and Gabby Hartnett came along, Ewing was listed as the catcher on virtually everyone's all-time team.
A lifetime .303 hitter with a high of .344 in 1893, Ewing was also a dead-ball-era NL home run champ, hitting 10 for New York in 1883. He topped the NL with 20 triples in 1884, and hit 15 triples four other times. In a June 9, 1883 game, he hit three triples. When stolen bases started being tallied, Ewing averaged 37 a season, with a high of 53 for the 1888 Giants.

Ewing played during a time when catchers did not catch every day. He never caught more than 97 games a season, and only once caught more than 80. He was said to have been a master at throwing out baserunners; he led NL catchers in assists three times in the 1880s, and in double plays twice. He spent few games behind the plate after 1890. Instead, he was stationed mostly in the outfield and at first base. He also pitched 47 innings.

Bill Burgess
03-01-2009, 09:42 AM
A little bit more on Buck's case as the Greatest Catcher Ever:

Buck Ewing

C - 636 g
1B - 253
OF - 235
3B - 127
2B - 51
SS - 34
P - 9

That is the amazing record of the positions that Buck officially played. And he didn't just 'play' them, but he really played them well. How many great defensive catchers do you know who were fast and agile enough to handle shortstop, 2B or 3B?

And bearing in mind that much athletic agility, take another look at the hitting chart? Buck is up there with Piazza as a hitter!


FN PA AB----Rel.BA--Rel.OnB-Rel.Slg.-Rel.ISO--OPS+
King Kelly 6455 5894 119 116.5 125.4 143.4 141.9
Mike Piazza 7416 6602 114.7 111.3 128.9 153.1 140.2
Mickey Cochrane 6055 5169 110.1 116.3 114.3 123.7 130.6
Buck Ewing 5764 5363 111.7 106.3 123.6 157 129.9
Roy Campanella 4786 4205 102.9 106 121.3 155.8 127.3
Johnny Bench 8658 7658 101.8 103.6 123.4 169.5 127
Gabby Hartnett 7170 6432 103.6 106.6 120.2 160.2 126.8
Bill Dickey 7009 6300 110.5 107.6 118.2 135.3 125.8
Ernie Lombardi 6331 5855 111.3 105.7 118.5 135.8 124.2
Roger Bresnahan 5262 4481 104.6 116.7 107.2 115.3 123.9
Yogi Berra 8355 7555 107.6 102 121.7 150 123.7
Carlton Fisk 9827 8756 103 103.9 116.6 143.6 120.5
Charlie Bennett 4310 3821 99.5 109 111.2 144.4 120.2
Gary Carter 8986 7971 99.9 101.5 113 140.5 114.5
Ivan Rodriguez 8298 7745 112.7 101 113.3 114.4 114.3
Thurman Munson 5882 5344 112.6 105.9 107 95.2 112.9
Johnny Bassler 2766 2319 105.7 116.8 91.2 53.1 108
Johnny Kling 4534 4241 102.3 96.4 102.4 102.5 98.8
Jimmy Archer 2787 2644 95.7 88.7 96.9 100.5 85.6
Ray Schalk 6003 5306 90.4 97.3 82.5 60.7 79.8
Marty Bergen 1340 1278 92.1 85.2 91.8 90.9 77

It was an era in which catchers took a beating from stray balls. Without modern equipment to protect them, catchers tended to get injuries and miss a large proportion of their teams' games. As a result, the players who ended up at catcher were usually poor hitters: for instance, in 1883 when Ewing hit .303 and led the league in homers for Troy, other catchers in the league had these stats: Doc Bushong (Cleveland, .172, 0 homers), Barney Gilligan (Providence, .198, 0 homers), Silver Flint (Chicago, .265, 0 homers), Mike Hines (Boston, .225, 0 homers), Jack Rowe (Buffalo, .278, 1 home run); there were a couple catchers in the league who also hit .300 that year (Charlie Bennett and Emil Gross), but neither was able to duplicate the feat year after year, as Ewing did - Gross played only 5 seasons, while Bennett ended up with a lifetime .256 average. Ewing played in more games in 1883 than any catcher in the league but Bennett, and had more at-bats than Bennett.

So Ewing was a "freak" - a catcher who could not only hit as well as King Kelly, but did so at a time when other catchers were often hitting close to .200 without power. And he kept it up for a long career.

As a defensive catcher, the 19th Century catcher had to contend with a game where base-runners ran incessantly. But Buck cut off the running game in a manner similiar to Johnny Bench and nailed the runners to the bases. Here is a quote to illustrate the point.

"As a thrower to bases Ewing never had a superior, and there are not to exceed ten men who could come anywhere near being equal to him. Ewing was the man of whom it was said, "He handed the ball to the second baseman from the batter's box". George W. Howe, treasurer of the Cleveland club, once asked the manager of the team, Oliver Tebeau, why the runners of Cleveland, who were very good, did not steal bases more often when they played New York. "Because they're out before they start", was the quick reply. "That man behind the bat for New York can't be fooled. He knows when a runner is going to start practically as soon as the runner decides to make the attempt, and he shoots the ball down to Richardson, who catches the best man we've got".

"He stands up and waits for him to come, and makes our runners look foolish."
What was said by Tebeau voiced the sentiment of every other captain in the league. Even the famed Mike Kelly used to study Ewing for minutes at a time, trying to find out how he managed to get the ball to second so smoothly and quickly." (The Sporting News, February 18, 1932, pp. 5, "Buck Ewing Called Greatest Catcher in Game's History, by John B. Foster.)

The reason Buck could get the ball so quickly to the bases to catch runners was found in the fact that he could snap the ball to the bases sidearm. He had a very large forearm muscle, and he had a unique talent.

He could, while still completely crouched, snap the ball like a bullet to the bases, using only his forarm muscle. Sometimes he would be cute and hardly look at the base. He would snap the ball sidearm to catch the unwary runners. Never tip them off that the ball was coming until it was too late. Hence, the other teams felt that they could not take any leads on Buck's arm. Later on, Jimmy Archer had that same rare ability.

Below is an article where that exact gift is discussed.

"One day, he was talking about throwing and about his arm. "I can snap them just as easy as I can throw them." he said. What's the use of standing up every time you want to catch a man off the bases. You have got to lose two steps on the runner while you are straightening yourself out. You see, my forearm is pretty strong," extending his arm for inspection, as he said it.

"I've got good muscles below the elbow and around it. I'll bet that I can throw into the outfield using my forearm only, nearly as far as some players can throw if they put all they have into an overhand motion."

"But don't you think that some day you will hurt your arm by so much of this forearm snapping of the ball?"

"I don't see why. It's there, and good. Tell me what difference it makes if you use the muscles of your lower arm, depend upon them, you might say, and don't use the muscles around your shoulder."

"It may not make any difference, but some baseball men, you know, have a hunch that your forearm will give out quicker than your upper arm."

'I'm still goin'," was the reply." (The Sporting News, February 18, 1932, pp. 5, "Buck Ewing Called Greatest Catcher in Game's History, by John B. Foster.)

In summary, how many catchers do you know of who could handle playing shortstop, hit 130 OPS+, and cut off the running game like Bench? His relative slugging average was 123.6 and his relative ISO was 157.

Truly, A Catcher For The Ages!

Beady
03-01-2009, 04:40 PM
Freakshow contributed this nice addition. Ewing played 19 games at 2nd and 51 at 3rd. This is in the middle of Ewing's prime years as a catcher, remember. Jim O'Rourke appeared in 38 games at 3rd that year, so it seems that Ewing could have had more appearances at catcher and O'Rourke could have had more appearances at third that season.

The 1887 season doesn't seem consistent with Ewing's being the greatest catcher ever. Does anyone know why Ewing was playing 3rd so often that year instead of catching?
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Ewing decided he didn't want to catch in 1887 and moved himself to second base, where he superseded Joe Gerhardt, who could still pick 'em but hadn't hit .200 in two seasons. He was team captain and he made the decision to move, in the face of fairly widespread complaints that he would have served the team's interests better by staying behind the bat. Admittedly, some of hte complaints came from Gerhardt and more were stimulaetd by Ewing's failure to play an adequate second base. He had been a second baseman in amateur ball but he couldn't handle the position for the Giants and moved to third early in the season, switching positions with Danny Richardson. Ewing did better at third and Richardson was a great success at second.

I think that before catchers moved up regularly to play right behind the bat, you needed to be agile to take the pitch and a lot of catchers were probably agile enough to play the middle infield. In fact, a number actually did so: Mike McGeary, Tom Barlow Bill Craver and Tim Manning.

The player who gets overlooked in these discussions of early catchers is Deacon White, the consensus choice of contemporary observers as the best catcher in the game in the 1870's, besides being a superb hitter. Partly, of course, this is because the 1870's are easily forgotten, even by someone like John B. Foster, who was relatively close chronoligically. So White is generally considered a third baseman, thus being judged by his performance at a position he never played regularly until he was 34 and well past his prime.

White can as reasonably be considered a catcher as Johnny Bench, who also caught for most of his career and then made the same position change at the same age as White did. Bench would never be considered a third baseman only because the switch there was not as successful for him as it was for White.

ItsOnlyGil
03-12-2009, 11:57 AM
"As a thrower to bases Ewing never had a superior, and there are not to exceed ten men who could come anywhere near being equal to him.

Certainly petty, but to me a pet peeve in that this statement appears to say (to me) that nobody is better than Ewing at throwing to bases, but as many as 10 others may be as good.

Bill Burgess
03-12-2009, 02:02 PM
"As a thrower to bases Ewing never had a superior, and there are not to exceed ten men who could come anywhere near being equal to him.
I interpret this sentence, by John Foster, to mean that, in his opinion, no one was better than Ewing at throwing to bases, and no more than 10 catchers were anywhere near being equal to him. Meaning 10 others were worse but somewhat close to him.

Bill Burgess
03-17-2009, 07:57 AM
In browsing Proquest, doing research, I stumbled across this article by Ted, from 1912. I thought it was interesting enough to post. Enjoy!

TED SULLIVAN SPEAKS OUT FOR OLD-TIMERS---(Anaconda Standard, Anaconda, Montana, Sunday, January 14, 1912, pp. 24.)

Chicago, Jan. 13.—Winter always brings on gossip of both magnates and players. There must be something left over from the menu of the summer baseball table to appease the baseball appetite of the ravenous fans. The latest fad is picking out the greatest ball players of the game-both past and present. Comparisons are always odious, but they are 10 times more so in the national game. Among the million of fans—every one of them has his idea what player of the entire list of the great army of baseball experts should be numbered among the immortal 20. Before I would pay attention to any of those selectors of the immortal 20, writes Ted Sullivan, he would have to be a man who has been a follower of the game—more than 25 years—and he would have to be a man also who handled players and developed them. The player of the great 20 should be, in my estimation, a man who always took the initiative in crises of a game to win for his side, without a guide being sent around with him to show him the route.

In a neck game this brand of player—no matter what team he is on—will rise to the situation and do something to win for his team. Men that were of such caliber of the past were George Wright, Mike Kelly, Curt Welch, Comiskey, Latham and John Ward and the men of modern years. Hugh Jennings, Keeler, McGraw and Jack Doyle of the old Baltimores and the men of today like Cobb, Evers, Callahan, Tinker and Chance and others of like genius.

Remember, I am not picking out any 20 great ball players, I am only pointing out the class of men who had the perception of the past and who have the perception of today—and possess the dash and impetuosity that enables them to go through the gate of victory at any time the opposition lets it ajar in their defense.

Ty Best—Only Now
In the past year I have seen where some magnates and laymen of the game assert that Ty Cobb was the greatest ball player in the entire history of the game. I make an allowance for the magnates to say so, but I do know that one or two of them who said so know better; but I think their opinions were slightly governed by the declaration that the ball player living draws better at their parks than any one that is dead. I want the public to understand that I do not want to take one gem from Cobb's baseball crown, nor do I want to take an ounce off the scale of his great baseball skill to lesson his ability in the eyes of the baseball public.

As Cobb stands today he is the best run getter of the entire baseball fraternity, and he is the stimulant and flavor of any ball team he plays on. What I mean by run-getter, is a man who can execute on the bases what he conceives, and that player that can get around those bases in making the run after he once gets to first, no matter how he got there, is the player that will always be a winner for a ball club. Cobb stands alone in that respect. Base running has ever been the spectacular part of a man's ball playing, and the player who excels in that, with all other things equal, will be always popular. I stand second to none in saying that Cobb today is the best batter and base runner in the game. He has also the get away dash and magnetism of the winner, but I will stop right here and say no more. For me to say that this player was the general and versatile ball player of the type, or any way near the counterpart in general baseball ability, of Ned Williamson, Buck Ewing and Mike Kelly, would indicate that I had an eclipse of my sight when I saw those three men in action in the zenith of their fame.

The Stalwart Three
I did not get my impression of those men by reading a story in the Ledger, but I got my impression of those stalwarts of the game when I was manager of them; in both the American Association and the National league. I saw Williamson on the threshold of his greatness, when he came from the Indianapolis club to Chicago in 1879 and I also saw the great Kelly when he came from Cincinnati to Chicago in the same year. Just think of a player like Williamson, a man symmetrically built, about 6 feet tall, with ability of good kind, that could play third base, catch and pitch, and one of the greatest base runners of his time. William (Buck) Ewing was one of the best, if not the best, general ball players and catchers of all times—who possessed all the attributes of a ball player. Ewing could play infield, and play it well, and excelled in every essential of the game. He began as third baseman of the Troy club of the National league.

Now we come to the immortal Mike Kelly, the acknowledged Napoleon of all baseball strategists, a player who could catch (and a brainy one at that) and could play also the in and out field—a man whose head was a casket of baseball gems and whose magnetism in his style of playing made many a man make an error that he otherwise would not. Kelly, cold, mechanical player—and to think, with all his dash and vim in sliding into bases, he never spiked or injured a fellow player. No! There was but one Mike Kelly in baseball, one Napoleon in military science, one John L. Sullivan in pugilism, one Shakespeare in dramatic literature, one Angelo in sculpture and one Rembrandt in painting.

To compare Outfielder Cobb to any of these three men, especially Kelly, would be making a sculptor the equal of a stone cutter; then, again, it is hard lo compare an outfielder with an infielder in the line of fielding duties they are called upon. The positions are entirely different. An outfielder may not average two or three chances to a game and the chances may only come in intervals of 10 or 25 minutes, while an infielder is in perpetual action when he once takes the field, and the plays are always coming up in a complicated form, and unless he is a quick-witted fellow he will be lost in a baseball fog. To try to bring any ball player of today up to the standard of Ned Williamson, Buck Ewing and Mike Kelly in general versatility and mechanical skill would be like making the press-made dress-suit actors of today the equals of Booth, Barrett and John McCullough. This last comparison may be a bad simile, but I'll stand for it just the same. (Anaconda Standard, Anaconda, Montana, Sunday, January 14, 1912, pp. 24.)