A baseball team's pitcher and catcher are referred to collectively as its 'battery'.
A baseball team's pitcher and catcher are referred to collectively as its 'battery'.

In baseball, the battery is the pitcher and the catcher, who may also be called batterymen,[1] or batterymates in relation to one another.

History

Henry Chadwick gave baseball jargon the term "battery".
Henry Chadwick gave baseball jargon the term "battery".

Origins of the term

The use of the word 'battery' in baseball was first coined by Henry Chadwick in the 1860s in reference to the firepower of a team's pitching staff and inspired by the artillery batteries then in use in the American Civil War.[2] Later, the term evolved to indicate the combined effectiveness of pitcher and catcher.[2]

Pitching to a preferred batterymate

Throughout the history of baseball, although teams have typically carried multiple catchers, star pitchers have often preferred the familiarity of working consistently with a single batterymate.[3]

In the early 20th century, some prominent pitchers were known to have picked their favorite catchers. Sportswriter Fred Lieb recalls the batteries of Christy Mathewson / Frank Bowerman beginning in 1899 with the New York Giants, Jack Coombs / Jack Lapp beginning in 1908 with the Philadelphia Athletics, Cy Young / Lou Criger gaining the greatest attention in 1901 with the Boston Americans (later the Red Sox), and Grover Cleveland Alexander / Bill Killefer beginning in 1911 with the Philadelphia Phillies.[4] Other successful batteries were Ed Walsh / Billy Sullivan beginning in 1904, along with Walter Johnson / Muddy Ruel and Dazzy Vance / Hank DeBerry both starting in 1923.[5][6][7]

In 1976, several major league pitchers chose their preferred catchers; a notion that had fallen out of practice for some decades. For instance, catcher Bob Boone of the Philadelphia Phillies, though one of the best catchers of his day, was replaced with Tim McCarver at the request of pitcher Steve Carlton. The Carlton/McCarver combination worked well in 32 out of Carlton's 35 games that season, plus one playoff game. The two had previously been batterymates for four years (1966–69) with the St. Louis Cardinals.[4] Another battery-by-choice was superstitious rookie pitcher Mark Fidrych who was new to the Detroit Tigers in 1976, insisting on rookie catcher Bruce Kimm behind the plate. The Fidrych/Kimm combination started all 29 of Fidrych's 1976 season games. The two continued as a battery through 1977.[4]

Knuckleballers have often preferred pitching to "personal" batterymates due to the difficulty of catching the unusual pitch.[8] One notable example was Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield and his preferred catcher, Doug Mirabelli.[9][10][11]

Most starts

Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina have started 328 games as a battery for the St. Louis Cardinals, and are the leaders in team-wins as of May 15, 2022.
Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan started 324 games as a battery for the Detroit Tigers.
Hall of Fame hurlers Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax each started over 200 games with Dodgers batterymate John Roseboro (center).

The below table shows battery-mates that as of September 20, 2022, have appeared in more than 200 starts together since 1914.[12][13] Boldface indicates active teammates.

Especially notable are the five Hall of Fame batteries below, including Lefty Grove (ranked by Bill James as the second-greatest pitcher of all time)[14] and Mickey Cochrane (ranked by James as the eighth-greatest catcher)[15] of the 1925–1933 Philadelphia Athletics,[12] and Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, who appeared in multiple World Series together for the New York Yankees between 1950 and 1963.[16][17][18]

Games started Pitcher Catcher Years Team
328 Adam Wainwright Yadier Molina 2007–2022 St. Louis Cardinals
324 Mickey Lolich Bill Freehan 1963–1975 Detroit Tigers
316 Warren Spahn Del Crandall 1949–1963 Boston / Milwaukee Braves
306 Red Faber Ray Schalk 1914–1926 Chicago White Sox
283 Don Drysdale John Roseboro 1957–1967 Brooklyn / Los Angeles Dodgers
282 Red Ruffing Bill Dickey 1930–1946 New York Yankees
270 Steve Rogers Gary Carter 1975–1984 Montreal Expos
264 Bob Lemon Jim Hegan 1946–1957 Cleveland Indians
250 Early Wynn Jim Hegan 1949–1957 Cleveland Indians
248 Tom Glavine Javy Lopez 1994–2002 Atlanta Braves
247 Lefty Gomez Bill Dickey 1931–1942 New York Yankees
240 Bob Feller Jim Hegan 1941–1956 Cleveland Indians
239 Fernando Valenzuela Mike Scioscia 1981–1990 Los Angeles Dodgers
237 Stan Coveleski Steve O'Neill 1916–1923 Cleveland Indians
237 Tom Seaver Jerry Grote 1967–1977 New York Mets
230 Lew Burdette Del Crandall 1953–1963 Milwaukee Braves
228 Steve Carlton Tim McCarver 1965–1969, 1972–1979 St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies
224 Lefty Grove Mickey Cochrane 1925–1933 Philadelphia Athletics
221 Paul Derringer Ernie Lombardi 1933–1941 Cincinnati Reds
212 Whitey Ford Yogi Berra 1950–1963 New York Yankees
208 Sandy Koufax John Roseboro 1957–1966 Brooklyn / Los Angeles Dodgers
208 Mike Flanagan Rick Dempsey 1976–1986 Baltimore Orioles
207 Jack Morris Lance Parrish 1978–1986 Detroit Tigers
207 Cole Hamels Carlos Ruiz 2006–2015 Philadelphia Phillies
203 Rube Walberg Mickey Cochrane 1925–1933 Philadelphia Athletics
203 Billy Pierce Sherm Lollar 1952–1961 Chicago White Sox
202 Dave Stieb Ernie Whitt 1980–1989 Toronto Blue Jays

  Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame

Most no-hitters

Reds hurler Johnny Vander Meer and Hall of Fame catcher Ernie Lombardi recorded two no-hitters in a span of five days in June 1938.
The battery of Max Scherzer and Wilson Ramos recorded two no-hitters for the Washington Nationals in 2015.

The table below lists the battery combinations that share the record for most major league no-hitters (2).

No-Hit
Games
Pitcher Catcher Date Team Ref
2* Larry Corcoran Silver Flint August 19, 1880 Chicago White Stockings [19]
September 20, 1882 [19]
2* Larry Corcoran King Kelly August 19, 1880 Chicago White Stockings [19]
June 27, 1884 [19]
2 Pud Galvin Jack Rowe August 20, 1880 Buffalo Bisons [19]
August 4, 1884 [19]
2 Adonis Terry Jimmy Peoples July 24, 1886 Brooklyn Grays [20]
May 27, 1888 Brooklyn Bridegrooms [21]
2 Cy Young Lou Criger May 5, 1904 Boston Americans [22]
June 30, 1908 Boston Red Sox [23]
2 Addie Joss Nig Clarke October 2, 1908 Cleveland Naps [24]
April 20, 1910 [25]
2 Johnny Vander Meer Ernie Lombardi June 11, 1938 Cincinnati Reds [26]
June 15, 1938 [27]
2 Allie Reynolds Yogi Berra July 12, 1951 New York Yankees [28]
September 28, 1951 [29]
2 Carl Erskine Roy Campanella June 19, 1952 Brooklyn Dodgers [30]
May 12, 1956 [31]
2 Sandy Koufax John Roseboro June 30, 1962 Los Angeles Dodgers [32]
May 11, 1963 [33]
2 Steve Busby Fran Healy April 27, 1973 Kansas City Royals [34]
June 19, 1974 [35]
2 Roy Halladay Carlos Ruiz May 29, 2010 Philadelphia Phillies [36]
October 6, 2010 [37]
2 Homer Bailey Ryan Hanigan September 28, 2012 Cincinnati Reds [38]
July 2, 2013 [39]
2 Max Scherzer Wilson Ramos June 20, 2015 Washington Nationals [40]
October 3, 2015 [41]

(*) Catchers Silver Flint and King Kelly shared catching duties for Corcoran's August 19, 1880 no-hitter.
  Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame

Sibling batteries

The following chart of major league sibling batteries lists pitcher/catcher siblings who played on the same major league team during a single major league season. The pair may or may not have performed as a battery in an actual major league game.[42]

Unique among those listed below are Mort and Walker Cooper, who formed the National League's starting battery at both the 1942 and 1943 Major League Baseball All-Star Games, and also appeared as a battery in the 1942, 1943, and 1944 World Series, the only sibling battery to achieve either feat.

Baseball Hall of Famer Rick Ferrell and brother Wes formed a battery for the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Senators in the 1930s.
Larry and Norm Sherry formed a battery for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1959 to 1962.
Utility infielder Andrew Romine pitched to brother Austin for one inning in a blowout loss for the 2021 Chicago Cubs.
Team(s) Pitcher Catcher
1877 Boston Red Caps
1878 Cincinnati Reds
1879 Cincinnati Reds
Will White Deacon White
1884 Richmond Virginians Ed Dugan Bill Dugan
1885 Buffalo Bisons Pete Wood Fred Wood
1886 Baltimore Orioles Dick Conway Bill Conway
1890 New York Giants (PL)
1891 New York Giants
John Ewing Buck Ewing
1902 St. Louis Cardinals
1903 St. Louis Cardinals
Mike O'Neill Jack O'Neill
1912 New York Highlanders Tommy Thompson Homer Thompson
1914 Boston Braves Lefty Tyler Fred Tyler
1924 St. Louis Stars George Mitchell Robert Mitchell
1927 Kansas City Monarchs Maurice Young Tom Young
1929 Boston Red Sox Milt Gaston Alex Gaston
1932 Cuban Stars (East)
1933 Cuban Stars (East)
1934 Cuban Stars (East)
1939 New York Cubans
1944 New York Cubans
Rudy Fernández José Fernández
1934 Boston Red Sox
1935 Boston Red Sox
1936 Boston Red Sox
1937 Boston Red Sox
1937 Washington Senators
1938 Washington Senators
Wes Ferrell Rick Ferrell
1940 St. Louis Cardinals
1941 St. Louis Cardinals
1942 St. Louis Cardinals
1943 St. Louis Cardinals
1944 St. Louis Cardinals
1945 St. Louis Cardinals
1947 New York Giants
Mort Cooper Walker Cooper
1941 Cincinnati Reds
1944 Cincinnati Reds
1945 Cincinnati Reds
1948 Pittsburgh Pirates
Elmer Riddle Johnny Riddle
1954 Philadelphia Athletics
1955 Kansas City Athletics
1960 New York Yankees
Bobby Shantz Billy Shantz
1959 Cincinnati Reds Jim Bailey Ed Bailey
1959 Los Angeles Dodgers
1960 Los Angeles Dodgers
1961 Los Angeles Dodgers
1962 Los Angeles Dodgers
Larry Sherry Norm Sherry
2021 Chicago Cubs[43] Andrew Romine Austin Romine

  Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame

Other records and firsts

Catcher Moses Fleetwood Walker (pictured) and George Stovey formed professional baseball's first Black battery.
Catcher Moses Fleetwood Walker (pictured) and George Stovey formed professional baseball's first Black battery.
Frank Duncan Jr (pictured) and his son, Frank Duncan III of the 1941 Kansas City Monarchs are thought to be the only major league father/son battery.
Frank Duncan Jr (pictured) and his son, Frank Duncan III of the 1941 Kansas City Monarchs are thought to be the only major league father/son battery.

Most games

The battery that appeared in the most games together was Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, with 598 games together for the New York Yankees between 1995 and 2011.[44]

Most wins

The most games by a starting battery that were won by its team was set at 203 by Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina on May 15, 2022, surpassing the previous record of 202 which had been set by Warren Spahn and Del Crandall. Currently, the record is 213 wins.[45]

Most innings

Red Faber and Ray Schalk, who played together for the Chicago White Sox between 1914 and 1928, recorded the most total innings as a battery (2553.2).[46]

Single-game records

Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants became the major league's first battery to hit grand slams in the same game when they accomplished the feat on July 13, 2014 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The home run was pitcher Bumgarner's second grand slam of the season (April 11).[47]

First Black battery

Pitcher George Stovey and catcher Moses Fleetwood Walker formed the first Black battery in professional baseball history when they teamed up for the 1887 Newark Little Giants of the International Association. The tandem recorded ten consecutive wins to begin the season before the Chicago White Stockings refused to take the field on July 15, leading to the league's implementation of the color line.[48][49]

Father-son batteries

Frank Duncan, Jr. and his son, Frank Duncan III, of the 1941 Kansas City Monarchs are thought to be the only father-son battery in major league history.[50][51]

In 2012, former major leaguer Roger Clemens came out of retirement to pitch for the minor league Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, and formed a battery with his son Koby Clemens in a game on September 7.[52][53][54]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Battery (baseball) – Britannica Online Encyclopedia". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
  2. ^ a b Edward Gruver. "Koufax". BaseballLibrary.com. Archived from the original on July 20, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2008.
  3. ^ "Major league teams wrestle with personal catchers". usatoday.com. March 9, 2015. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Grosshandler, Stan. "Pitcher's Choice". Research Journals Archive. Society for American Baseball Research. Archived from the original on September 26, 2018. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
  5. ^ * Billy Sullivan Sr. at the SABR Baseball Biography Project, by Trey Strecker, Retrieved November 20, 2011.
  6. ^ "Muddy Rule New York Times obituary at thedeadballera.com". thedeadballera.com. Archived from the original on November 6, 2019. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  7. ^ "Hank DeBerry Dead". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. September 11, 1951. p. 14. Retrieved May 8, 2018.
  8. ^ Aaron Gleeman (February 21, 2013). "R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball will have a personal catcher". nbcsports.com. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  9. ^ "Doug Mirabelli got a police escort to Fenway Park 13 years ago today". nbcsports.com. May 1, 2019. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  10. ^ Brita Meng Outzen (March 15, 2008). "Knuckleballer saddened by Boston's release of personal catcher". thesunchronicle.com. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  11. ^ "Wakefield's personal catcher Mirabelli released". espn.com. March 13, 2008. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
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  13. ^ Silver, Zachary (February 9, 2021). "'This is my home': Molina ready to chase title". MLB.com. Retrieved February 16, 2021.
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  15. ^ Bill James (December 14, 2017). "Catchers of the Last 40 years". Bill James Online. Retrieved April 29, 2020.
  16. ^ Barra, Allen (2009). Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee. W. W. Norton. p. 269. ISBN 978-0393062335.
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  18. ^ "Whitey Ford's Battery Mates". Catching Hall Of Fame Pitchers. Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
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  21. ^ "A Big Day For Terry". The Sun (New York). May 28, 1888.
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  49. ^ Peter Mancuso. "July 14, 1887: The color line is drawn". sabr.org. Archived from the original on April 16, 2019. Retrieved June 14, 2022.
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  51. ^ Ryan Whirty (February 11, 2016). "Seventy five years ago, father-son battery made baseball history with Kansas City Monarchs". kansascity.com. Retrieved January 9, 2020.
  52. ^ "Long Island Ducks vs Sugar Land Skeeters: 0–4". pointstreak.com. Retrieved June 14, 2022.
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Further reading