[From the New York Clipper.]We can almost safely say that the finest display of catching we have ever seen in a single game was that exhibited by Clapp, of the St. Louis nine, during the June contests in Brooklyn in 1876. His play close behind the bat on these occasions was excellent. A peculiarity of Clapp's catching the past season was his adoption of the rule to play behind the bat-mentioned in an article on catching, published in 1866-of a rapid return of the ball to the pitcher. This is as important for effective play as is a rapid delivery by the pitcher; we don't mean as regards pace, but in sending in balls in rapid succession, by which the batsman is obliged to be on the alert all the time, with but little opportunity afforded for leisurely judging the balls. Some catchers hold the ball, after receiving it from the pitcher, for some time, with a view of throwing it to a base, or being ready for that play. but the best plan is to promptly return it to the pitcher, unless a base runner has started to run on the actual delivery of the ball. We have seen many a base stolen while the catcher has thus held the ball, apparently in readiness for a throw. A prompt return bothers a base runner, especially if the return throw is swift and accurate to the pitcher. But the main value of it is that it enables the pitcher to play his strong point of catching the batsman napping by a rapid return of straight balls when the batsman is not ready to strike. This point was played by Bradley last season almost as frequently as by Spalding and its success was mainly due to Clapp's quick returns. Clapp is another of those quiet players who are seldom heard of except in the way of fine play in their position. The Athletics never committed a greater mistake than when they allowed Clapp and McBride to leave their service. They fully realized this fact last season.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 31, 1876