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Frisco Del Rosario writes about chess960, women's basketball, minor league baseball, unsupported collectible card games, lettering in comic books, and Golden Age movies

San Francisco Giants catchers memberberries 07/03/2017

screen-shot-2017-07-03-at-3-07-03-amSometimes when Buster Posey does something outstanding, I think it sucks that an old Giants fan can’t sit in a bar, and jaw with a young Giants fan like: “Junior, Buster Posey is good, but lemme tell ya about Marc Hill, the Giants’ opening day catcher in 1975”.

Giants catchers could maybe hit a little — Milt May hit .310 in 1981, and Dick Dietz had 100 RBI in 1970, one-third of his career total (thanks for bunching them up, Dietzy!) — or field a little (Gold Glove Kirt Manwaring was in the catcher platoon that went to the ’89 World Series), but Buster Posey is the only San Francisco catcher who could do both (Hall of Famer Buck Ewing probably did more than one thing, too).

There was fan favorite Bob Brenly, an All-Star in 1984. Brenly was one of the really likable Giants during the dark Disaster LeMaster seasons. When they put him at third base — where he committed three errors in one inning — Giants fans loved him for that, even.

I saw a painting of Bob Brenly at the county fair 10 or 15 years ago. This local artist said: “I want to paint a picture of my favorite Giant, and that’s Bob Brenly!”.

What has stayed with me all these years about that painting was that it captured a moment, the kind of moment that baseball fans have to explain to not-baseball-fans. Baseball fans say that the long periods of nothingness are punctuated by moments when *something is about to happen!*, and we say that like it’s a good thing.

The painting represented Bob Brenly about to catch the pitch while he’s coming up from his crouch. The artist seemed to want to convey that anticipation of the moment (yay, finally, some action!) plus the unique back-and-forth force of a 90 fastball caught, and then rocketing back to second base.

At least in my eyes, that painter captured the kind of moment that baseball fans find special. I’ve been looking for a picture of Buster Posey at that same instant, but I can’t find one — either Posey is set to receive without a steal attempt, or Posey is cocking his throwing arm.

Baseball metrics can’t account for two things Buster Posey does better than any other catcher: making up for time lost through Giant pitchers’ slow deliveries (they say baserunners don’t steal against the catcher they steal against the pitcher; Buster Posey regains the time that Cody Gearrin wastes), and putting the throw on the bag (no time lost making the tag). Posey catches, gets out of the crouch, and throws in one motion. Basketball fans are wowed by the shooters who catchandshoot. It’s all one word: catchandshoot. Posey’s the only catcher I’ve ever seen who nails basestealers with the same seamless athleticism.

If there’s not a painting of Buster Posey at a county fair some day, we’ll settle for a plaque at Cooperstown.

Categories baseball

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