Skip to main content

Sunday School: History Lesson 12

Most avid fans of baseball will know that there are certain positions on a field that left handers are not welcomed to play. The main reason it's less than ideal for lefty arms to play shortstop or third base is that the fielder must turn his body to throw to first base. The extra time would give a runner an extra step, in most cases. The same applies to second base as well. The catcher position is another one where lefties are not very welcome. Estimating, going back to the 1800's, more than 8,000 players have played catcher in the major leagues. Just 33 of them have been left handed. Of that small group, 10 played in only one game (likely an emergency situation) and 16 of them played in five games or less, plenty of which were players better known to play other positions. Of the 33 lefty catchers, 10 played in 50 or more games, only 5 played in more than 100, and just three played more than 200. One of those three was John J. "Jack" Clements, who caught most of his games with the Phillies.

Jack Clements was a big league catcher from 1884-1897. He holds the record for games caught by a left handed player, at 1,073. Clements was even around in the days before the Phillies had that name, and were known as the Quakers.

Clements was one of the best catchers of his era. Defensively, he led the league in putouts three times, and in double plays and fielding percentage once each. With the bat in his hands, Clements finished in the top 4 in batting average 3 times. His .394 batting average in 1895 still stands as the highest single season average by a catcher.

During the 1890 season, Clements made some waves as he told manager Harry Wright that, after catching both games of back to back double headers, that he would only catch one game of the next day's double header. The team only had one catcher at the time and Clements was overworked. Supposedly, Wright then cancelled one game of the twin bill to appease his catcher.

Earlier that season, Wright fell ill with temporary blindness, and Jack Clements served as player-manager over a 19 game stretch, winning 13 of those games.

Clements, the Phils' regular catcher in 9 of his 13 full years on the team, also filled in at other positions. He played 41 games in the outfield, 18 games at first base, and 4 games each at shortstop and third base. Yes, shortstop and third base too! Jack Clements broke all the rules.



Comments

mvr joe said…
hot damn, nifty info as awlays from the ballz man. Clements sounds awesome. Damn interesting man.

Popular posts from this blog

Frosty Phillies Favorites: 2021 Edition w/ DJ Stewart

Season's greetings to all of you! It's that time of the year to celebrate and enjoy the holiday season. Every year at Christmas time, I survey a group of Phillies prospects about what they get excited for during the holidays.  This year, we focus on just one up and coming player, corner infielder DJ Stewart. The 22-year-old righty batter had a solid season in 2021. In 94 games combined with Class A Clearwater and Class A Advanced Jersey Shore, Stewart notched a .265 batting average with 14 home runs, 42 RBI and five stolen bases.  Recently, I talked with DJ to gain his feedback on all of his holiday favorites. Read ahead for that interview... -What's your favorite Christmas movie? My favorite is This Christmas.  My Mother and I would watch it together every Christmas, so it just stuck with me. -What is your favorite Christmas song and which version is best? This Christmas by Chris Brown.  It's the final song of my favorite Christmas movie. -What's your favorit

Biddle slated to make Reading return on Saturday

Jesse Biddle, image- Jay Floyd After a miserable stretch of starts in June, lefty pitcher Jesse Biddle was placed on Double-A Reading's temporary inactive list. On Saturday, he'll make his long awaited return to the FirstEnergy Stadium mound when he starts the first game of the Fightins' scheduled double header against Binghamton. The 22-year-old posted a 0-4 record with a 12.64 ERA in four June starts. It was clear that there was something quite wrong with Biddle, who had missed a start in late May after being pelted with hail and suffering a concussion. A mixture of feelings including confusion and anger were firmly settling in while Biddle's efforts on the mound were not. The Phils saw a need for the Philadelphia native and Germantown Friends School product to take a break. Exams discovered lasting impact on Biddle stemming from the concussion and time off was required. "For me it was an important time not only to take a mental break and to go down

Franco making case for September call up

Maikel Franco, image- Jay Floyd While the minor league season begins to wind down, Lehigh Valley third baseman Maikel Franco continues to go full throttle. As the IronPigs kicked off their final home stand of the season on Saturday with a double header against the division rival Syracuse Chiefs, Franco, who is hoping his season continues on beyond the final day on the regular season calendar, which is Labor Day, September 1st, continued to display his improved offensive efforts going 6-for-7 with two home runs combined in two games while recording a cycle in the night cap. The feat was certainly quite an achievement, but possibly more impressive because it was accomplished in just six offensive innings for the winning home club in game 2, as minor league double headers are slated as seven-inning contests. Franco, who turns 22 years old this week, struggled through the early part of his first Triple-A season, ending June with a .202 batting average and just 28 extra-base hits