In baseball, the battery is the pitcher and the catcher, who may also be called batterymen, or batterymates in relation to one another.
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. Later, the term evolved to indicate the combined effectiveness of pitcher and catcher.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
Knuckleballers have often preferred pitching to "personal" batterymates due to the difficulty of catching the unusual pitch. One notable example was Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield and his preferred catcher, Doug Mirabelli.
The below table shows battery-mates that as of April 17, 2022,[update] have appeared in more than 200 starts together since 1914. 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) and Mickey Cochrane (ranked by James as the eighth-greatest catcher) of the 1925–1933 Philadelphia Athletics, and Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, who appeared in multiple World Series together for the New York Yankees between 1950 and 1963.
|324||Mickey Lolich||Bill Freehan||1963–1975||Detroit Tigers|
|316||Warren Spahn||Del Crandall||1949–1963||Boston and Milwaukee Braves|
|311||Adam Wainwright||Yadier Molina||2007–present||St. Louis Cardinals|
|306||Red Faber||Ray Schalk||1914–1926||Chicago White Sox|
|283||Don Drysdale||John Roseboro||1957–1967||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||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
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.
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.
|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||Andrew Romine||Austin Romine|
Member of the Baseball Hall of Fame
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.
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.
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).
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. Remarkably, the home run was pitcher Bumgarner's second grand slam of the season (April 11).
Frank Duncan, Jr. and his son, Frank Duncan III, of the 1941 Kansas City Monarchs are thought to have been the first father-son battery in major league history.