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Big League Stew

Art: Evolution of the catcher

Big League Stew

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(H.S. Crocker and Co., via the Library of Congress)

Happy new year, Stewies! Before we turn out the lights on 2012, let us check out a five-panel cartoon from the 1890s that is heavy with pun. Possibly with a nod toward the famous "Ascent of Man," this poster illustrates the natural progression from a cat with a ball of string to cat-cher with a baseball. Thanks to Erik Malinowski of the Deadspin for rummaging around in the basement of the Library of Congress and finding this.

Some things to note about our catcher:

• The lack of a mitt. If our backstop is wearing any kind of glove, there's not much material to it.

• Also, he's got a facemask. Seems pretty progressive for the Old Hoss Radbourn era.

• Can you imagine the patience required to roll yarn into a ball?

• That ball is HUGE.

• The catcher has dainty little feet!

• Cat paws actually would make for good baseball cleats.

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