When my sisters and I were growing up, my father loved to spend time with us in the back yard (and later at the local school diamond) playing baseball. We never used a softballs, always baseballs. My dad had been a stand-out baseball pitcher and catcher for his high school during the World War II. He had hoped to play professional baseball but his dreams and elbow were shattered by a bullet while serving on the aircraft carrier Bon Homme Richard in the Pacific. Frankly, I also think the wear and tear of pitching also left him some serious rotator cuff issues, as he had a difficult time throwing very far as he got older.
So when the time came when I could finally play softball for my high school team (one of the few sports girls played on those pre-Title IX days besides half-court basketball and field hockey), catcher was my position of choice. Perhaps it was because I was a natural athlete and wanted to be constantly in motion. The fact that my dad had played catcher for the all boys Riverdale School team in New York in the early 40s (that's him in the photo, the last player on the right in the front row with the catcher's glove and shin guards), had a something to do with my choice. I recall the conversation with my dad, who everyone called "Bud", to this day. I was somewhat upset that softballs were so much bigger than regular baseballs, and wondered why girls couldn't play baseball too. My dad explained that if I played catcher, the game would be much more fun. In fact, I loved being a catcher for my high school team until I discovered tennis and later, in college, lacrosse as my spring sports.
Was it any wonder that my son Spencer wanted to be a catcher when he started youth baseball? Had his granddad "Bumpa" lived long enough to watch him he would have been very proud that he followed in his footsteps.
As major league baseball begins spring training and young baseball players around the country eagerly await the arrival of weather warm enough to go out and throw the ball around, some of them, I bet, are thinking about becoming catchers, and for some teenage girls, the opportunity now exists to play baseball,
For those parents looking for advice on how to buy catcher's gear, we have posted a very informative buying guide.
Is your teenage daughter interested in playing baseball at the highest possible competitive level? Check out the announcement by USA Baseball of tryout dates for the Women's National Team for the 2012 World Cup in August, including the addition this year of a 16 and under team.
With Fenway Park celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year (and where my dad took us to see the "Splendid Splinter", Ted Williams, play, it is sure to be an exciting season. All I can say is, "Play ball!"