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Jan 2024 – Eamon Burke of Helena, MT

Congratulations to Eamon Burke of Helena, MT – our January Contest Winner!

Contest Question

Happy 2024! Let’s start the New Year off with a debate: What is the toughest position in baseball? Why? Defend your perspective, and give an example of the greatest athlete to have played that position. Good luck!

The Winning Answer

I myself am a pitcher playing college baseball in Wisconsin, so it wouldn’t seem right to say that pitchers have the toughest position, as I wouldn’t be where I am today without an often highly overlooked position. I believe that overlooked position, catching, is the hardest position on the field. Catchers are the field general, the quarterback. They need to prepare for every situation before it happens. Catchers are able to observe the whole field in front of them. I truly believe they are able to read a pitcher’s mind. Doing this, catchers understand a pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses for every batter and situation. This allows a positive outcome for both himself and the pitcher as the game progresses. Many times, the catching position is overlooked, often by my position, pitchers. I have met plenty of pitchers who say that pitching is the hardest position. But what pitchers don’t understand is, sure we control the game’s pace and so on, but without a good catcher, one cannot be a good pitcher. You can throw as hard as Nolan Ryan but without a Pudge Rodriguez, who can throw guys out from his knees, frame like an artist, and block balls like a wall, it is simply not enough. Some of the best pitchers in MLB history were able to utilize the abilities of not only himself but all the players on the field. As Crash Davis agrees in Bull Durham, “Strikeouts are boring, besides they are fascist.”

As for who I believe is the greatest athlete to ever field the catching position, I’d have to say Yogi Berra. He was a phenomenal player on both sides of the ball who consistently won with every team he was associated with, primary playing for the Yankees and managing the Mets and Yankees after his playing career. For his case as an athlete, Yogi Berra is often shown in videos and pictures sprawling around the diamond making diving tags and plays of all kind. Many at the time he played noted his short stature but also regarded his grit and athleticism towards the game of baseball. Berra won 10 World Series, was an 18-time all-star, and voted AL MVP 3 times.

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