The Backstop Boys: The Greatest Catchers Of All-Time

One of the most physically and mentally demanding positions in baseball is catching. Often, catchers are held to a different standard compared to pitchers and infielders. Teams must be strong up the middle, and if you have a quality defensive player with some production, that can lead you to a World Series.

These players did their best to win or set some impressive records. But, there will be at least four more people on this list who will end up in Cooperstown a little bit down the road.

Among the players that stayed behind the plate, only 14 have been elected into the Hall of Fame, including the slowest man in baseball.

Buck Ewing Was The First Of His Position To Do Something Unique

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Ewing was one of the first of his position to crouch behind the plate. That cut down the time it would take to throw runners out at second, and catch the ball closer to home.

In the early part of his career, Ewing didn’t wear a chest protector or a solid mask.

Josh Gibson Could Have Broke The Color Barrier

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Gibson posted an absurd 1.026 OPS and .624 in the Negro Leagues. Playing for the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords, Gibson hit an impressive .350 during his career.

Unfortunately, he never played in the big leagues, passing away a few months before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

Gabby Hartnett Had An Insane Season In 1930

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The former Cubbie had one of the best statistical seasons for a catcher. In 1930, Hartnett batted .339 with 37 home runs and 122 RBI. In 1937, he would hit .354, an average that stood still for 60 years.

Old Tomato Face would rake in 236 home runs and have a career batting average of .297.

Guess who broke Hartnett’s record in 1997? Hint: he was a catcher for the New York Mets in the 2000 World Series.

Joe Mauer

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A three-time winner of the batting title, Mauer is the only catcher to accomplish the feat in the American League. Mauer has over 2,000 hits in his career, and he set an MLB single-season record for catchers.

In 2009, he had a .265 batting average as well as a record .444 OBP.

Roy Campanella

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Aside from his knack for hitting, Campanella was known for his quickness. He finished his career with 242 home runs and 856 RBI. His numbers could have been better if he didn’t suffer a career-ending injury.

Campanella was immobilized after a tragic car accident.

Mike Piazza

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While his defense wasn’t as good as others on this list, Piazza was an offensive juggernaut for the Mets and Dodgers. The 12-time All-Star had one of the greatest seasons in MLB history.

In 1997, the Hall of Famer slash line was .362/.431/.638 with 40 home runs and 124 RBI.

The original “Pudge” is coming up next. He played a crucial role in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

Johnny Bench

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Bench was able to gun down runners. He would help the Cincinnati Reds to two World Series titles while piling up MVP, Gold Glove Awards, and Rookie of the Year.

His two MVP seasons had him compile 45 home runs and 148 RBI, then 40 home runs and 125 RBI.

Buster Posey

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Posey has already amassed numbers and awards that should have him reach Cooperstown. He is a three-time World Series champion, MVP, Rookie of the Year, and more. The Giants back-stopper is no slouch behind the plate.

By the time Posey’s career comes to an end, he’ll be regarded as one of the greatest catchers baseball has ever seen.

Carlton Fisk

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Fisk has the sixth-most RBI all-time by a catcher. With 1,330 RBIs and 376 homers, the original “Pudge” ranks fourth all-time in WAR.

Not only did Fisk launch the game-winning home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, but it also became one of the most memorable plays ever.

The catcher who would become somewhat of a Carlton Fisk is still on the way.

Gary Carter

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One of the most popular players in the league, Carter led all catchers in a few categories. Total chances, put-outs, assists, and double plays were his calling card in the 70’s and 80’s.

Carter played for the Montreal Expos but helped lead the New York Mets to a memorable World Series run in 1986.

Ernie Lombardi Was The Slowest Man In Baseball

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“Schnozz” was known for his massive hands. He had an odd batting stance where he would interlock his hands. A career .306 hitter, the catcher relied on his power to make up for his lack of speed.

In 1938, he was the backstop for back-to-back no-hitters.

Ivan Rodriguez

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The best defensive catcher was a sniper behind the plate. A member of the 2003 World Series champion Marlins, “Pudge,” leads all catchers with 2,844 hits, 14,864 put-outs, and 2,427 games caught.

His prolific career was rewarded when he was inducted into Cooperstown in 2017.

Read ahead to see the Yankee player who became their manager for just one season.

Yadier Molina

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Molina is one of the better defensive catchers of all-time. The Cardinal great is known for controlling the game behind the plate through his pitch selection. The Puerto Rico native ranks second all-time among catchers with 130 Defensive Runs Saved.

And, he’s won two World Series while handling the plate.

Mickey Cochrane

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Before a fastball to the head ended his career, Cochrane compiled a .320 batting average. In 1930, he would hit a career-best .357, then hit .349 the following season.

Cochrane’s hitting ability was only part of the equation, as he was known for his ability to control a game from behind the plate.

Bill Dickey

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The 11-time All-Star posted 11 seasons hitting over .300. His best stretch was between 1936-1939. During that span, he had 102 home runs, 460 RBI, and he finished among the top five in MVP voting.

After his playing days, Dickey managed the Yankees for a season.

Read ahead to see which Yankee great Dickey mentored.

Jorge Posada

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Posada was the heart of the Yankees last dynasty. The four-time World Series champion had a consistent bat and played good defense.

The future Hall of Famer hit more home runs and batted in more runs than any catcher between 2000 and 2011, and was part of a Yankees trio that included Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.

Ted Simmons

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Simmons was one of the feistiest catchers in the game. The eight-time All-Star had seven seasons where he broke the .300 mark. He would set significant league records among catchers with 2,472 career hits and 483 doubles.

Both of those records have since been broken.

Yogi Berra

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Berra was a part of 10 World Series winning teams, all with New York. From 1950-1956, the Yankee great finished in the top four of the MVP vote. A three-time MVP and 18-time All-Star, Berra was thankful for one thing.

He was mentored by another Yankee great, player-turned manager Bill Dickey.

Thurman Munson

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The star catcher of the Pinstripes led New York to two World Series championships. Munson is the only catcher in postseason history to hit at least .300, have 20 or more RBIs and throw out over 20 runners.

The three-time Gold Glover and MVP had his No.15 retired shortly after his tragic death.

Biz Mackey

Mackey was named to five East-West All-Star teams. With a career that lasted nearly three decades, Mackey was considered one of the all-time greats.

While the Texas native never reached the major leagues, he was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.