Who doesn't love a good debate concerning sports lists? In any sport, in any era, for any team, they're always sure to spark debate and get us thinking about how we evaluate athletic accomplishments.
Focusing on the long, and sometimes rich, history of the Philadelphia Phillies, there is a lot of ground to cover. For this piece, we'll shine a spotlight on those who have donned the "tools of ignorance" for the club as we talk about the top catchers the team has ever seen. It has been discussed before, of course, but that doesn't take away the fun of compiling and defending the choices herein.
Before actually counting down the top five catchers in Phillies history, it seems appropriate to acknowledge some of the men who almost made the cut.
Jack Clements is not well known among Phils fans, and with good reason, as he played from 1884-1897. But he made his mark over the course of exactly 1,000 games with the Phillies, batting .289 and knocking in 636 runs. He also caught Charles Ferguson's 1885 no-hitter, the first in team history. Other old-timey guys like Stan Lopata, Spud Davis, Red Dooin, Clay Dalrymple, and Butch Henline also deserve a tip of the cap. Great names, too.
Smoky Burgess was a good hitter for the club, amassing a .316 average over three full seasons with the Phils before being dealt away. And one of the players that he was traded for, Andy Seminick, was making a return visit to Philadelphia after having played with the Whiz Kids years before. In total, Seminick belted 123 home runs over his two stints with the team.
Lastly for this section, a special shout-out to Benito Santiago, who somehow hit 30 home runs in his one year with the club (he never hit more than 18 in any other season) while gunning baserunners down from his knees with regularity. Moving on.
You know what's even more fun than making a "best of" list? Making a "worst of" list. And while we'll resist the temptation to actively rank some of the shoddiest backstops that the Phillies have ever paid money to, a few deserve mentioning as being so far away from the best of the bunch that it's almost comical.
Lance Parrish may have had the best overall career of any catcher who ever played for the Phillies, but he was an utter disappointment for the club in 1986 and 1987 after being hailed as the team's savior.
We all love Bob Uecker, but let us not forget his anemic hitting, as he managed a .202 average over 242 at-bats across two seasons with the Phillies. It's also fun to bring up random guys like Tom Prince and Mark Parent because they're always good for a laugh from a certain segment of the fanbase.
Lastly, Andrew Knapp. Nothing else needs to be said. Now, onto the actual list.