Sunday, November 18, 2007

John Clapp

In The National Game, Al Spink writes that "John Clapp was one of the greatest catchers that ever lived. He was the leading catcher of St. Louis' first major league team away back in 1876. In 1878 he was catcher of the famous Indianapolis team and later he played with the best nines in America. He was a wonderful receiver, handling the speediest pitching with the greatest of ease." Clapp, whom Spink claimed enjoyed a "world wide reputation", played for the 1876 and 1877 Brown Stockings National League team.

William Ryczek, in Blackguards and Redstockings, called Clapp "an outstanding receiver". He went on to write that "John Clapp, a tough youngster from Ithaca with a powerful throwing arm, was brought to (Middletown, Connecticut in 1872) to work behind the plate. In January Clapp had written to Harry Wright attempting to secure a position with the Red Stockings but had been rebuffed. He quickly became a standout with the Mansfields and lasted 11 years in the majors, establishing a then record National League consecutive game streak of 212 between 1876 and 1879, no mean feat considering the lack of protection for the man behind the bat. The streak was due not merely to good fortune, but to Clapp's stoic nature as well. He was an ironman in every sense of the word. In an 1872 exhibition against Yale, the catcher was hit in the side with a bat, hit in the head with a ball, and had a finger dislocated, yet he remained in the game."


Richard Hershberger said...

Clapp was with the Athletics in 1875. During their collapse of 1876, at least one newspaper cited the Athletics' letting him get away as an example of their mis-management. Of course we can't take such analyses of collapses at face value, but it is an indication that Clapp was well regarded at the time. It can be difficult to tell nowadays with catchers of this era, as they were needed more for defensive skills than for batting and statistics for this are sketchy at best.

Jeff Kittel said...

Just looking at his stats and reading a little bit on him, Clapp looked like a pretty good player.