Thursday, February 25, 2016

Without Communication, Who Are We?

Aloha, everybody, 

I've spent today in an email chain trying to solve a puzzle. Different people (who could be referred to as teammates of mine) are giving me contradictory answers to the same seemingly simple question. 

On top of all that, I'm trying to get to the bottom of this in a way that won't offend anybody, all the while knowing some fundamental communication between us teammates would have prevented this in the first place. *sigh*

Of all sports, baseball seems to be the most reliant upon communication between teammates. It takes place on a number of levels, mid-game and even mid-play, using words and coded body language. Nowhere is this more evident than the constant non-verbal communications between a pitcher and his catcher. 

I dug into my binders today and pulled out a few random pitchers, curious about who they spent their time communicating with. The results surprised me. 

 Hall of Famer Jim Palmer pitched for the Orioles for 19 years, and won more games than anyone else through the 70's. In checking on his past battery mates I discovered a former Dodger, Rick Dempsey. 

 Dempsey was behind the plate for eight of Palmer's shutouts. That's certainly some top-notch communicating. 

Note Dempsey sporting a 40th anniversary Vero Beach (Spring Training) patch. 

The next pitcher I pulled from my binder was Phil "Knuckleballer" Niekro. 

 Niekro also threw to a former Dodgers catcher, Johnny Oates. 

More great communicating took place, as Oates caught two of Niekro's shutouts. Although I suspect Johnny simply held up the "knuckleball" sign 90% of the time. 

Here comes another great pitcher from the past (with a lurking Mets coach, who was probably communicating with the batter)...

I was amused by this Carlton being caught by a different Carlton - Fisk. 

Amazingly (?), Steve Carlton also was caught by Oates and Dempsey. 

I then pulled Eck...
 Who did he communicate with? Steve Carlton's battery mate, Carlton Fisk - for four shutouts. 

Eckersly was the only one of these pitchers who did not have a Dodger for a catcher, but the final pitcher of the post...

...returns us a battery mate who, you know it, also caught for the Dodgers...

From team to team, across divisions and seasons, they communicated with wig-wagging fingers, and now we honor them with our fingers wig-wagging across keyboards. 



  1. Nice post Oscar. I always find it interesting when some journeyman catchers are involved in great games. Former Pirate manager and current bench coach of the Orioles John Russell caught Nolan Ryan's last no hitter.

    1. On that note journeyman Sandy Martinez was behind the dish for Kerry Wood's 20K game in 1998. Interesting sidenotes, that's for sure.

    2. I was amazed at how much these catchers traveled around and got to catch for different HOF pitchers.

      We could probably spend an entire afternoon digging up these connections.

  2. Wait, you don't have that 1982 Fleer card -- featuring a photo that looks like it was taken by a 5-year-old with shaky hands on a sugar rush -- of "Steve & Carlton" with a subtitle of "Carlton & Fisk"?

    1. Nice find, Tony. I've never seen that one before.
      It's a great card on multiple levels - one being that outlandish Chicago uni.

    2. It might have to find its way to you...