Famous Left Handed Catchers: Our Top 5 [All Time List!]

Benny Distefano famous left handed catchers

Famous Left Handed Catchers

A left handed catcher is a rarity in the game both today and across baseball history.

Of the over 2,000 players to catch at least one MLB game, only a small handful were left handed. 

This post showcases some of the more noteworthy players in the lefty catcher club since the dawn of professional baseball. 

In particular, we look at five of the most famous left handed catchers and highlight what stood out about their careers.

Let's dig in!

1. Fergy Malone

Fergy Malone

The first left hander to play catcher in professional baseball was a guy by the name of Fergy Malone.

He caught 27 games for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1871, the first season in the history of the major leagues.

The left handed Malone would go on to catch 178 games across seven big league seasons.

In addition to being the first lefty catcher, there are a few other interesting facts about Malone.

For starters, he was born in Ireland and was one of the few Irish born players in the early major leagues. 

He was also a veteran of the Civil War, fighting in the Union Army. 

Additionally, in 1874, he was the highest paid player in all of baseball. 

That's a pretty interesting man if you ask me!

2. Jack Clements

Jack Clements

Although Fergy Malone was the first, Jack Clements was the best left handed catcher to ever play the game.

Clements played in 1,076 big league games behind the plate, most of which were with the Philadelphia Phillies. These nearly 1,100 games are more than any other lefty catcher, by a long shot.

In 17 seasons of pro baseball between 1884 - 1900, Clements had a .287 batting average and collected 1,231 hits, 77 home runs and 687 RBIs.

While he was a consistently good player, Clements was also known for his early innovation in catcher's gear.

Back when catchers didn't use any gear, Clements experimented with an early version of a catcher's mitt and is known as the first catcher to use a chest protector, which interestingly enough, was inflatable and had to be blown up before each game.

3. Sam Trott

Sam Trott

The left hander with the second most big league games played behind the plate was a 19th century catcher named Sam Trott. 

A career .250 hitter, Trott played four seasons with the Baltimore Orioles, three seasons with the Detroit Wolverines and one with the Boston Red Stockings.

The lefty Trott played the majority of his MLB games behind the dish, appearing as a catcher in approximately 272 games.

After his playing career ended, Trott served as the first manager of the Washington Statesmen during their inaugural 1891 season. The Statesmen rebranded the following year and became known as the Washington Senators. 

4. Dale Long

Dale Long

Another famous left handed catcher to make the list was one of the least likeliest of all.

Dale Long played ten seasons in the majors between 1951 and 1963. 

He was a solid hitter throughout his career, and on the defensive side of things, he was used almost exclusively as a first baseman. 

However, Long did have some training as a catcher before making it to the big leagues.

While playing for the Chicago Cubs in 1958, Long was put behind the plate in the ninth inning of a game. 

A series of mishaps that included an injury and an ejection left the Cubs with no other option at catcher at that moment.

Of note, Long wore his first baseman mitt behind the plate due to a lack of other left handed options.

A month later, he was again moved to catcher in the final inning of a game. That would be his final MLB appearance as a catcher.

As cool as it was that he played two games behind the dish, what Long is most remembered for is his bat.

In 1956, while playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Long hit a home run in eight consecutive games. It was an MLB record at the time, and it still stands as a record in the National League. 

5. Benny Distefano

Benny Distefano catching with the Pittsburgh Pirates

The final left handed catcher to make our list is Benny Distefano. 

Why did he make the list?

Because he's the last left handed thrower to play catcher in an MLB game.

On May 14, 1989, Distefano was placed behind the plate for the Pittsburgh Pirates in the ninth inning of a game against the Atlanta Braves.

A month later, he caught two innings in a game against the Philadelphia Phillies, and he put on his catcher's gear a third time in August for three innings in another game against the Atlanta Braves.

In a total of six innings as a catcher, Distefano had a 1.000 fielding percentage, one passed ball and two putouts. 

To this day, Distefano remains the last lefty to play behind the plate in a major league game. 

Thanks for Reading!

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Scott Perry is the owner and lead author at Catchers Home. He's a former baseball player, a current coach, a husband and a Dad. He remains as passionate about baseball today as he was as a kid.