Be a catcher in baseball? How dumb can you get? Foul tips break their fingers; cramps rack their legs; masks hide their faces; and on hot days they swelter behind all that padding. They even have to pay twice as much for equipment as the next guy. How is it, then, that these dummies wind up fulfilling the most demanding job on the field? The answer is challenge—and security. The only player able to see what's really going on, the catcher plays prompter to the pitcher, makes base runners honest and has the heavy responsibility of keeping the team cohesive and alive. Small wonder that good catchers are hard to find, and consequently hold the most secure jobs in baseball (and no coincidence, either, that five of today's big league managers began their careers behind a face mask). The excitement and motion generated by three of the best catchers in the business are shown on the following pages, beginning (at right) with the Los Angeles Angels' Bob Rodgers, who, in a beefy ballet, charges after a pop-up.
Reaching to his right, Clay Dalrymple of the Phillies backhands a low outside pitch
Ripping off his mask, the Giants' Tom Haller charges after a tricky dribbler