( Blanchard is also a good left-handed hitter—which helps. Of the four catchers, only Howard swings right-handed.)
"I went to a baseball clinic where 400 kids turned out," said Howard. "There were two catchers, just two."
"Most of the kids are afraid of catching. They're scared of getting hurt. It's their mothers, really," said Blanchard. "With Little League and all that other kid baseball, the mothers go to a lot of games. They-sit in the stands and watch their kids get smacked with a foul ball. 'No more catching for my kid,' the mother says. The kid's lucky if she lets him play at all."
"You would think every kid would want to be a catcher," said Gonder. "It's the fastest way to the top. Least amount of competition. Except on this club, maybe. But the money's good and the World Series checks help out. I'm not complaining."
"A lot of kids don't like to work hard," Berra said. "And they blink when a ball comes." He walked to a mirror to comb his hair. "Heck, I even blink sometimes. My kid likes catching. He's 11 now. When he told me he blinks I told him I blink, too. He's a strong boy."
"There could be one solution to the shortage," Hegan said. "We ought to make catchers out of some of these lefties." He said it half-jokingly, then continued: "I don't really see why not."
Howard and Blanchard disagreed. "A lefty could never throw to third with a right-handed batter," Blanchard said.
"He'd have just as much trouble throwing to first," Howard said.
Berra thought about the question. "Gee, I don't know," he said, rubbing his chin. "If he could hit, I don't think it would matter."
A few minutes later the game was called off. Berra dressed rapidly and walked out of the clubhouse, heading for his New Jersey estate.