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  • #61
    Originally posted by TonyK View Post
    I don't care which hand a player wears his glove on. If he can make fewer errors, throw out more baserunners trying to steal, or get to more ground balls then I don't care about the What If plays that may or not occur.
    Everything might seem just fine if a lefty 3B fields a grounder and throws out the runner, but there's a very good chance that a RH with equal talent would have thrown out the runner by a larger margin. Of course this doesn't really matter much for THAT specific play, but over the course of a season, the RH is going to be able to throw out more runners. There's just more plays that will happen that will put the LH in a bad position to make a quick throw.

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    • #62
      Let's talk about the one defensive position where both LH and RH have always been allowed to play -- 1B.

      Yeah, yeah, I know, it's First Base -- Where Anyone Can Play, except that we all know that that isn't true because of the times where the experiment of moving an aging slugger to the position has failed badly.

      Who are the best defensive 1B? Well, each handedness has advantages and disadvantages. Lefties do a better job of covering grounders playing to their right. Righties guard the lines better. Both have advantages and disadvantages in the kinds of plays a 1Bman makes -- and in the end it's up to the individual skills of the player, rather than the handness, to determine who's the best 1B in a given season.

      Which is kinda our point. There's nothing really magical about 1B that suggests that 1B can play it, but not other infield positions, well.

      The myth of 1B being the easiest defensive infield position is just that -- or at least, even if you're playing 1B you're still definitely playing baseball. Of all infielders, a first baseman is the guy most likely to be touching the ball at the end of a given play. You guard the right field line, feed the pitcher accurately on a close grounder, and occasionally need to make a throw across the diamond to third. You need darn good hands to play first base, and you're just as in on that bunt play as the righties-only third baseman. even if you might be able to make a throw to second more cleanly to nab the lead runner if you are lefthanded.

      In fact, there's a number of specific situations just compelling as Mr. Bunt-To-The-Third-Baseman where lefty 1B's hold a supposed advantage because of their handness. Righthanded throwers seem to do fine, though, considering that one just won the AL Gold Glove.

      I rather suspect that on the whole the reverse would be true as well for the other positions -- that when you come right down to it any lefty who had proved their way through the minors to survive in a position defensively would have solved the high-school-baseball-level problems people keep digging up to say why lefties can't play SS, 3B, 2B and C and might have even found advantages in their own style of play.
      Last edited by Imgran; 08-22-2008, 09:28 AM.

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      • #63
        You know, the funny thing is... I've heard a suggestion in an article or two on the subject that traces the whole prejudice against lefthanded infielders back to (ready for this?) superstitions of witchcraft. Lefthandness was one of the things that could get you suspected during a purge and there's plenty of cultural artifacts left in society to remember that era by

        Examples: the concept of being "sinister," is related to the left hand (where Dexter is the right hand and thus Ambidextrous would mean that both hands could be used like most people use the right hand). Similarly, most people know that a lefthanded compliment is not a nice thing to say, and the french word we borrowed for total social clutziness also, in French, refers to the left: "gauche." These verbal cues came from somewhere in our culture. This is where.

        In other words there's a loooooooong trail of superstition in our culture that's biased against lefties. This might not seem relevant until you remember that a whole lot of ubertraditional baseball coaches waaaaay back in the day might have followed this stuff and not wanted to put southpaws in key infield positions because of the old cultural/superstitions biases. That sort of decision is the kind that, unexamined, really can persist in our awareness for centuries without remembering exactly why it's so. Especially in a very traditional sport like baseball.
        Last edited by Imgran; 08-23-2008, 11:11 AM.

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        • #64
          Originally posted by Imgran View Post
          You know, the funny thing is... I've heard a suggestion in an article or two on the subject that traces the whole prejudice against lefthanded infielders back to (ready for this?) superstitions of witchcraft. Lefthandness was one of the things that could get you suspected during a purge and there's plenty of cultural artifacts left in society to remember that era by

          Examples: the concept of being "sinister," is related to the left hand (where Dexter is the right hand and thus Ambidextrous would mean that both hands could be used like most people use the right hand). Similarly, most people know that a lefthanded compliment is not a nice thing to say, and the french word we borrowed for total social clutziness also, in French, refers to the left: "gauche." These verbal cues came from somewhere in our culture. This is where.

          In other words there's a loooooooong trail of superstition in our culture that's biased against lefties. This might not seem relevant until you remember that a whole lot of ubertraditional baseball coaches waaaaay back in the day might have followed this stuff and not wanted to put southpaws in key infield positions because of the old cultural/superstitions biases. That sort of decision is the kind that, unexamined, really can persist in our awareness for centuries without remembering exactly why it's so. Especially in a very traditional sport like baseball.
          Ok I am following your speculation until I get to the part where 1B and OFers are allowed to be voodoo witches?

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          • #65
            Originally posted by Imgran View Post
            You know, the funny thing is... I've heard a suggestion in an article or two on the subject that traces the whole prejudice against lefthanded infielders back to (ready for this?) superstitions of witchcraft. Lefthandness was one of the things that could get you suspected during a purge and there's plenty of cultural artifacts left in society to remember that era by

            Examples: the concept of being "sinister," is related to the left hand (where Dexter is the right hand and thus Ambidextrous would mean that both hands could be used like most people use the right hand). Similarly, most people know that a lefthanded compliment is not a nice thing to say, and the french word we borrowed for total social clutziness also, in French, refers to the left: "gauche." These verbal cues came from somewhere in our culture. This is where.

            In other words there's a loooooooong trail of superstition in our culture that's biased against lefties. This might not seem relevant until you remember that a whole lot of ubertraditional baseball coaches waaaaay back in the day might have followed this stuff and not wanted to put southpaws in key infield positions because of the old cultural/superstitions biases. That sort of decision is the kind that, unexamined, really can persist in our awareness for centuries without remembering exactly why it's so. Especially in a very traditional sport like baseball.
            Everybody knows that lefty warlocks are uber bad!

            With that in mind, you have a good point that back in 1900 or 1920 managers shunned lefties in the infield for some reason. If most of your teammates threw righthanded you are in the minority I'm afraid. Did one incident turn the tide...a lefty threw the ball away trying to make the double play perhaps?

            It started in the youth baseball programs. Lefties had to be moved to different positions. The question is at what age did this happen around 1900. Was it age 10 or 12 or 14 or 16? It is something that is lost forever I'm afraid. Like you said it is so ingrained in our baseball culture that we don't even give it a second thought. I know of one lefty star high school player that is the best hitter, pitcher, and infielder on his high school team. Naturally he plays 1B. I have seen him make plays that no other 1B in his league could make. There is no doubt in my mind that he would be the best 2B, SS or 3B on that same team.

            That is what this discussion is all about...how we evaluate talent in the game of baseball. Still nobody wants to tackle how Jack Clements lasted 17 seasons in the ML's as a lefthanded catcher.
            "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
            "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

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            • #66
              Originally posted by TonyK View Post
              That is what this discussion is all about...how we evaluate talent in the game of baseball. Still nobody wants to tackle how Jack Clements lasted 17 seasons in the ML's as a lefthanded catcher.
              I guess because lefty catchers in the 1800s were somewhat common to begin with, and he was a good enough hitter to play 17 years. Since teams made about 4 errors per game back then anyway (compared to less than 1 today), the mere disadvantage of a lefty catcher didn't make much of a difference. :twocents:

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              • #67
                Originally posted by ipitch View Post
                I guess because lefty catchers in the 1800s were somewhat common to begin with, and he was a good enough hitter to play 17 years. Since teams made about 4 errors per game back then anyway (compared to less than 1 today), the mere disadvantage of a lefty catcher didn't make much of a difference. :twocents:
                "Right handed batters learned to duck. Clements simply fired away."
                "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

                Comment


                • #68
                  Originally posted by TonyK View Post
                  It is odd that glove manufacturers produce lots of youth first basemen's gloves for lefties and very few youth catcher's gloves or youth infielder's gloves for lefties. Lefties do have easier access to catchers gloves today than way back when in my day.

                  When you are only 9 years old and all you can wear is an outfielder's glove or a first baseman's glove then the message you learn is lefties can only play 5 positions on a team.
                  Hell, I couldnt find a left-handed 1B mitt. I had to play first with my regular OF glove.

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                  • #69
                    Let's face it... our world is set up for right handers. I know that the majority of the population is right handed, but Like Imgran stated, these types of traditions started because of beliefs that would seem ludicrous today.

                    Women who didn't obey a man were also considered witches and were burned.
                    Last edited by NotAboutEgo; 08-25-2008, 05:55 AM.

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                    • #70
                      For the record, I'm a righty who has never played an organized game of baseball, but the question really intrigues me as a student of the game.

                      I mean.. we've had an ambidextrous pitcher in the majors since we last had a lefty play significant time at 2B, 3B, SS or C. If you asked a space alien who understood the sport only in abstract (yo!) which was likely to be the more improbable, playing second base with a glove on your right arm, or being able to pitch at the major league level with either arm, guess which one I'd answer.
                      Last edited by Imgran; 08-25-2008, 01:29 PM.

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                      • #71
                        Supposedly in the 1880-1920 era the lefty population in the US decreased to only 5%. The theory is teachers severely punished lefties and tried to make them use only their right hands, and factories required machine operators to be proficient with their right hands to prevent serious accidents.

                        Somehow we lefties survived the industrial revolution and came back even stronger. It takes more than a few beatings and missing fingers or hands to defeat us! Now we are more than 10% of the population and the next President will be a lefty.

                        But we may lose our last stronghold in the infield, 1B, if a new sabermetric study claims righty first basemen are better fielders. It will be written by a righthander of course.

                        Are there any lefty 2B/SS/3B/C's in the Japanese major league or other pro leagues?
                        "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                        "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

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                        • #72
                          a lefty catcher is better just because they dont have to do a spin and then throw on the 3rd base side bunt. but it doesn't matter on who plays where but the smarter more dedicated players that hustle will be the best. and my son was the best 3rd baseman in his league last year as a lefty who could throw 60 who can catch and throw.
                          Last edited by lefty4life; 09-06-2008, 04:56 PM.

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                          • #73
                            I added to this thread earlier but actually it was against my cause. I LOVED playing catcher and I was a lefty. I was even lucky enough in the 80's to have a lefty catcher's mitt. I started playing catcher from my first team in T-Ball on but I found after Little League I got the less support from everyone to play the position. As I entered the 90 ft league of Pony ball the position was taken away from me. Now I ask why?

                            You all give some very valid reasons why maybe at a pro level a lefty catcher has very little advantages and more than a few disadvantages. That is fine but really how many people even come close to that level? When I went to try out for the High School team the coach wouldn't even let me get behind the plate. I played first from time to time and enjoyed that position so I decided to try out there but one of the guys trying out for first too was now retired NFL Offensive Lineman Mike Devlin so you can guess how that turned out. Then I turned back to the recreational team but this coach that drafted me put me in the outfield because his lefty son played first, I was not a pitcher and he did not want me to catch. Honestly I would have been content playing 1st the whole year even but you all know that wasn't going to happen. I played the outfield and mind you I was never comfortable there.

                            Now by no means am I saying I would have even made the HS team as a catcher even if I was given a fair shot. I was good for little league but I am realistic. The jump from 60 to 90ft is a big deal and I am not muscular by any means. But why could I not play it in the recreational league? What I am saying is, isn't baseball suppose to be fun? For what reason is everyone taking it so serious on a recreational level that I wasn't allowed to catch or that I couldn't even TRY-OUT for HS catcher.

                            Honestly, all of these situations completely discouraged me and I never played organized baseball again though I was only in 9th grade. Sad really because even now that I'm older it is really the only sport I truly follow.

                            *By the way about 5 years ago some $%#@ broke in my car and stole my mitt along with a few other things as well.
                            http://dalewmiller.com

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                            • #74
                              I agree. Baseball at the youth and less-competitive amateur levels is supposed to be fun, and anyone who wants to play should be able to. For the more competitive leagues, whoever is best at a position should be there... righty or lefty. For people to take things so seriously at the youth level (as they need to satisfy their egos by winning rather than by teaching kids the game and teaching them how to be good teammates and have fun), it really takes away a lot of opportunities for some.

                              For the competitive and pro teams out there, give everyone a chance at whatever position, and then take the ones who are the best. Telling someone from the get-go that they can't even try out for a position because of a physical characteristic is very exclusive and limiting and can be more of a detriment to a team. The fact that there have been lefty MLB players who were successful shows that the stereotype of lefties not being able to play certain positions isn't true. I'm sure that those who were able to handle it weren't the only ones who'll ever be able to do so.

                              If this stereotype hadn't existed at all and hadn't stemmed from societal views of left-handed people, how many more LHs would there be in MLB and other competitive levels who are successful in those positions? As for amateur levels, most coaches typically follow what MLB does, rather than thinking on their own.

                              FYI... I'm not partial to LHs, either... since I'm right-handed.

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                              • #75
                                "If'n you wants to be a lefty catcher, you need left-handed catchers gloves."

                                A look at Spalding's 1885 Baseball Guide shows what was available to amatuer and pro catchers back then:

                                $3.50 - Left-Hand Catcher's Gloves. Full fingers on right hand for catching and fingerless on the left hand for throwing. Open backs.

                                $2.50 - League RH Catcher's Gloves. The opposites for righties.

                                $2.00 - Pro Gloves. For righties and of a lower quality.

                                $1.50 - Amatuer Gloves. For righties and lighter gloves.

                                $1.00 - Practice Gloves. For righties and poorer quality.

                                $1.00 - Boy's Gloves. Boy's sizes and I'm assuming only for righties.


                                Now the 1886 Spalding Guide:

                                $5.00 - League Special RH Catcher's Gloves. The best quality.

                                $3.50 - League RH Catcher's Gloves. One step down in padding.

                                $2.50 - League RH & LH Catcher's Gloves. I think lefties could use them as both gloves are fingerless?

                                $2.00 - Pro RH Catcher's Gloves. Less padding.

                                $2.50 - Amatuer lefties gloves.

                                $1.50 - Amatuer righties gloves.

                                $1.00 - Practice righty gloves.

                                $.25 to $.75 - Cheapest amatuer gloves all for righties.


                                So during the time when dozens and dozens of lefty catchers were playing pro ball and amatuer ball, the largest equipment manufacturer was offering catchers gloves to them if they would be willing to pay a much higher price. The 1886 amatuer lefties gloves price of $2.50 may have forced many young catchers to play a different position.

                                If anyone has Spalding Guides from 1887 on it might be interesting to see how this trend continued.
                                "He's tougher than a railroad sandwich."
                                "You'se Got The Eye Of An Eagle."

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