Nice photos! The 1886 Spaulding Guide has catchers gloves resembling the padded tip illustrations above. Some shortstops made over 100 errors in a season and who knows if they were good fielders or not.
Originally Posted by SHOELESSJOE3
One example of a player with great range was Frank Grant. While playing shortstop, he made an incredible catch of a foul ball down the left field line in a game. In another game he was playing second base and caught a foul ball down the right field line. Reporter after reporter commented on Grant's great fielding plays yet he also had dozens of games where he made three or more errors.
So we have just one example of a middle infielder making plays in the 1880s and 1890s that would be on Plays of the Week today.
I think you can get a sense of the better defensive players position by position by comparing fielding stats, and reading contemporary accounts about who were the best fielders.
"He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
"You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."