My Own Theory
My Own Theory
Based on the above reflections, I feel like it's safe to say there is no good reason why a left-handed thrower could not succeed at the professional level. So why aren't there any? My own guess, and this is just wild speculation (one of my favorite activities), is that originally left-handers were not trusted as much as their righty counterparts. They were considered fluky, flaky, crazy if you like. Left-handed pitchers were considered the worst: Hall of Famer Rube Waddell is an example of a nutty left-hander from the old days, while Spaceman Bill Lee is a more modern example.
Ring Lardner, baseball reporter and short-story writer, is considered one of the finest observers of the game back in the Dead Ball Era. Here's a bit from his story "My Roomy," in which the narrator tries to explain the bizarre, downright psychotic behavior of his teammate, Buster Elliot. After concluding that Elliott "wasn't no stew" nor was he a "dope," our narrator observes:
There wouldn't of been no mystery about it if he'd been a left-hand pitcher-but he wasn't. He wasn't nothin' but a whale of a hitter and he throwed with his right arm. He hit left-handed o' course; but so did Saier and Brid and Schulte and me, and John himself; and none of us was violent.Since the catcher is also traditionally a team leader, it makes sense that teams would be reluctant to give that job to perceived nut-cases. Later, when left-handers had mostly lost their reputation for goofiness, tradition has assured the continued absence of the left-handed catcher.
One might ask, then, how the lefty-throwing Jack Clements overcame the obstacles and became a regular catcher. I don't know the answer to that question, but I think we can eliminate the lack of a left-handed catcher's mitt at the Little League level as one of those obstacles.
Well, that's the end of the series about left-handed catchers. For a mailbag response on this from the Hardball Times, go to the following link: http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/lefty-catchers-ii-the-people-speak/