The tools of ignorance.
This is the name given the gear strapped on by a catcher in baseball -- the chest protector, shin pads and protective mask. The less than complimentary moniker reflects the notion that it takes a certain type of crazy to make oneself a target for 100-mph projectiles and place oneself within inches of rapidly swinging lumber.
"A catcher and his body are like the outlaw and his horse," said Johnny Bench, by many accounts the best to ever play the position. "He's got to ride that nag till it drops."
Any catcher who can overcome the physical bludgeoning by baseballs, foul tips and the odd home plate collision as well as the havoc that crouching for so long wreaks on the knees and back to also deliver consistent performance at the plate will become an All-Star. Any catcher who can hit consistency with a bit of power has a chance to be a Hall of Famer. And any catcher who can deliver both average and pop during the World Series, at the tail end of a grueling regular season, can become a legend.
Texas Rangers backstop Mike Napoli appears on his way to such status. After being unable to hold the starting gig with the Angels -- which was always a judgement of his defense as opposed to his bat -- and a short stint with the Blue Jays, Napoli has made himself at home deep in the heart of Texas. With chants of NAP OH LEE reverberating through Rangers Ballpark at Arlington each time he strides to the plate, the 29-year-old catcher has put on an offensive show for the ages.
Aside from belting the game-winning double in Game 5 of the Series, Napoli has raked at a .308 clip through five games and has an 1.235 OPS. Entering Game 6, Napoli has to be considered the favorite to win MVP honors if the Rangers go on to win the Series. Either way, he has already etched his name alongside some of the greatest catchers in the game by virtue of his performance.
From legends Yogi Berra and Johnny Bench to surprise heroes like Darrell Porter, here are some of the top performances by catchers in the Fall Classic.