Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Jack Clements

Jack Clements played with the Browns in 1898 near the end of his long career. David Nemec wrote that Clements "was a twenty-one year old rookie with the Philadelphia Keystones. One of the few UA graduates to go on to a long major league career, Clements stayed in Philadelphia with the Phillies when the Keystones folded. He was one of the first catchers to use a chest protector (originally called a "sheepskin") but is best known for being the top lefty receiver in big league history."

In The Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James wrote that Clements was "(the) only left-handed catcher to have a real career in the major leagues, also the first man to wear a chest protector. Also the only 19th-century player (at any position) who hit more home runs than triples in a career of a thousand or more games. In modern baseball about 80% of players hit more homers than triples-but Clements was the first." James ranks Clements as the fifty-eighth best catcher of all time.

Too indifferent to play for the best that was in him and get into proper shape, Jack Clements, the erstwhile crack backstop of the Phillies, is under contract to do the catching for the Springfield team of the Connecticut State League...Clements had all the qualities of a great catcher, but refused to use them.
-From The Cleveland Plain Dealer, April 14, 1902 (as quoted in The Historical Baseball Abstract)

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