Summer baseball is gearing up for us and I must say I miss my flip flop tan line. A photo popped up on my memories this week on social media and it was a photo of Cameron protecting home plate to get the out during a spring tournament. My mind immediately started thinking about Cameron’s protection over Cody and what a catchers job really is.
Your first thought of a catcher may tell you his job is to only protect home plate and not allow any runners cross over to score. Did you know:
“Home plate was round, something like a dinner plate, when baseball was born in the 19th century, but it was difficult to call balls and strikes. So the plate was converted to a pentagon shape that, it is often said, points to the most important player on the field — the catcher.”
Society of American Baseball Research (SABR.org)
Only the catcher is positioned to see the entire field of play, including the hitter, and it is the catcher who triggers virtually every action by calling the pitches. The catcher makes calls based on a complex array of data that he processes in a split second. He must be aware of every aspect of the game at all times, particularly the perceived strengths and weaknesses, as well as preferences and desires, of the hitter (the opponent) and his own teammates.
He must also be keeping score, the inning, and the number of outs in mind. He has to know what the count is and what the batter did the last time he was up to bat. Is the pitcher’s curve-ball working today? Does the umpire have a loose or a tight strike zone? Do the runners have large leads, and which way are they leaning? These perceptions, judgments, and decisions run through a catcher’s mind before he calls a pitch. Each decision is critical, because the outcome of the game could turn on any one.
Cam is involved in every play. No moments of daydreaming permitted, no scoping the stands for pretty girls laughing. The catcher is the game’s permanent point person, working side by side with the field coach, a backstop, strategist, encourager and a friend.
Side by side, he and the coach control the pitching game and the running game, and is asked to know the strengths, shortcomings and needs of each pitcher, and also memorize each opposing hitter, evaluate his swings and predict his thinking.
Just like being a big brother, some thoughts and feeling that run through their minds are similar to a catcher. They are protecting what’s theirs. They are observing all surroundings, being on guard for sudden decisions, looking for potential outcomes or roadblocks, including them when they play with others, having clear communication and most importantly not over thinking.
I often think about when Cam leaves for college in a short 3 years, how Cody will handle it. But honestly, I think the roles have reversed. My hope is Cam goes and lives life and attends a school of his dreams and does not stick around too close. I have already been encouraging him to fly.
Dalia Lama once said, “Give the ones you love wings to fly, roots to come back and reason to stay.” He may choose to stay one day but I hope he flies first.
Oh, and good knees help, too in order to be a good catcher and a big brother!