25 Best Catchers of All-Time

25 Best Catchers of All-Time

All catchers are asked to be accurate and consistent when catching pitches, but the best catchers of all-time were also known for their offensive play. It’s what separates a good catcher from a great catcher and can be the difference between a win and a loss in the MLB today. 

The catcher is one of the most important players on the defensive side of the ball. They’re not only responsible for catching balls from the pitcher, but they play a major role in calling the game, communicating with the pitcher, and are ultimately involved in every defensive play. 

A quality catcher can do a lot for a team. It can help the pitchers get a sense of consistency behind the plate and minimizes the amount of errors throughout the game, but they also give you a quality bat that can be relied on in clutch moments. They do a little bit of everything. 

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Who Are the Best Catchers of All-Time?

25 Best Catchers of All-Time
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The best catchers of all-time were essential to the evolution of the position throughout the history of baseball – which dates back as far as the early-1800s. They helped pave the way for all the current and future catchers, setting the bar for young baseball players all around the world. 

Before we get into our list of the best catchers of all-time – which will feature names you’d expect to see on the list and some names that might surprise you – let’s first highlight some of the names you won’t find on the list – not that they weren’t good, but they weren’t good enough.

Some of those names are Bill Freehan, Gene Tenace, Jim Sundberg, Jason Kendall, Darrell Porter, Roger Bresnahan, Wally Schang, Louis Santop, Russell Martin, Brian McCann, Victor Martinez, Mickey Tettleton, Salvador Perez, Manny Sanguillen, and Tony Pena.

Without further hesitation, let’s take a look at the best catchers of all-time!

25. Elston Howard

Years: 1948-1968 (15 seasons)

Teams: Kansas City Monarchs, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees

Career Stats: 1,623 games, 1,490 hits, .274 batting average, 168 home runs, 773 runs batted in, 633 runs scored

Elston Howard made his debut in 1948 for the Kansity City Monarchs of the Negro American League. He made his MLB debut on April 14, 1955 and hit 10 home runs his first season. He was a 12-time All-Star, one-time MVP, two-time Gold Glove winner, and four-time champion.

He finished his career with 10 or more home runs in seven different seasons – including three of more than 20 home runs and a career-high 28 home runs in 1963 – the season he won MVP. 

24. Benito Santiago

Years: 1986-2005 (20 seasons)

Teams: San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Cincinnati Reds, Florida Marlins, Kansas City Royals, Toronto Blue Jays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs

Career Stats: 1,978 games, 1,830 hits, .263 batting average, 217 home runs, 920 runs batted in, 755 runs scored

Benito Santiago made his MLB debut on September 14, 1986 for the San Diego Padres and recorded one hit in his first game. He only played 17 games his first season, but won Rookie of the Year in his first full season in 1987 – as well as his first of four Silver Slugger awards. 

Santiago ended his career as a five-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and one-time NLCS MVP. He hit double-digit home runs in 13 different seasons and a career-high 30 in 1996. 

23. Jason Varitek

Years: 1997-2011 (15 seasons)

Teams: Boston Red Sox

Career Stats: 1,546 games, 1,307 hits, .256 batting average, 193 home runs, 757 runs batted in, 664 runs scored

Jason Varitek made his MLB debut on September 24, 1997 and played his final game on September 25, 2011. He finished his career with more than 110 hits in seven different seasons, double-digit home runs in 11 different seasons, and at least 20 home runs in three seasons. 

He played his entire 15-year career with the Boston Red Sox and was a three-time All-Star, two-time World Series champion, one-time Silver Slugger, and one-time Gold Glove winner.

22. Biz Mackey

Years: 1920-1947 (22 seasons)

Teams: Indianapolis ABCs, Hilldale Club, Baltimore Black Sox, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Philadelphia Stars, Washington Elite Giants, Newark Eagles, 

Career Stats: 894 games, 1,008 hits, .328 batting average, 52 home runs, 603 runs batted in, 497 runs scored

Biz Mackey made his debut in 1920 and played his final game 27 years later in 1947 – though he only played 22 seasons due to two hiatuses, one in 1929 and another in 1941. Still, he’s regarded as one of the pioneer catchers in baseball history, especially in the black community.

He played in the Negro National League for three years before moving to the Eastern Colored League for six years and American Negro League for one year. He then played for the Negro National League II for 12 years. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2006. 

21. Buck Ewing

Years: 1880-1897 (18 seasons)

Teams: Troy Trojans, New York Gothams, New York Giants, Cleveland Spiders, Cincinnati Reds

Career Stats: 1,315 games, 1,625 hits, .303 batting average, 71 home runs, 883 runs batted in, 1,129 runs scored

Buck Ewing made his debut on September 9, 1880 and played his final game on May 27, 1897. He played for 18 seasons and while he only hit double-digit home runs once, he had more than 100 hits in nine different seasons – despite only playing more than 100 games in four seasons.

He hit a career-high 122 runs batted in and 117 runs scored during the 1893 season, was a two-time World Series champion, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1939. 

20. Ted Simmons

Years: 1968-1988 (21 seasons)

Teams: St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves

Career Stats: 2,456 games, 2,472 hits, .285 batting average, 248 home runs, 1,389 runs batted in, 1,074 runs scored

Ted Simmons made his MLB debut on September 21, 1968 and played his final game on October 2, 1988. He hit double-digit home runs in 12 different seasons and more than 20 home runs in half of those seasons – including a career-high 26 home runs during the 1979 season.

Simmons ended his career as an eight-time All-Star, one-time Silver Slugger, and finished in the top-20 MVP voting seven times. He was recently inducted into the Hall of fame in 2020. 

19. Yadier Molina

Years: 2004-present (18 seasons)

Teams: St. Louis Cardinals

Career Stats: 2,146 games, 2,112, hits, .280 batting average, 171 home runs, 998 runs batted in, 758 runs scored

Yadier Molina made his MLB debut on June 3, 2004 and is currently a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals – the same team that drafted him nearly 18 years ago. While he has only hit 10 or more home runs seven times, he has recorded more than 110 hits in 13 of the past 14 seasons.

Molina is a 10-time All-Star, nine-time Gold Glove winner, one-time Silver Slugger, four-time Platinum Glove winner, and two-time World Series Champion with the St. Louis Cardinals. 

18. Jorge Posada

Years: 1995-2011 (17 seasons)

Teams: New York Yankees

Career Stats: 1,829 games, 1,664 hits, .273 batting average, 275 home runs, 1,065 runs batted in, 900 runs scored

Jorge Posada made his MLB debut on September 4, 1995 and played his final game on September 29, 2011. He only played 69 games his first three seasons, but hit more than 10 home runs in 13 of the next 14 seasons – including a career-high 30 home runs in 2003.

During his 17-year career, Posada was a five-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger, finished in the top-6 of MVP voting twice, and won four World Series championships with the Yankees. 

17. Ernie Lombardi

Years: 1931-1947 (17 seasons)

Teams: Brooklyn Robins, Cincinnati Reds, Boston Braves, New York Giants

Career Stats: 1,853 games, 1,792 hits, .306 batting average, 190 home runs, 990 runs batted in, 601 runs scored

Ernie Lombardi made his debut on April 15, 1931 and played his final game on September 17, 1947. After hitting 24 home runs in his first four years, Lombardi would hit at least 10 home runs in 11 of the next 13 seasons – including 20 home runs in 1939 and 19 home runs twice.

He finished his career as an eight-time All-Star, one-time MVP, one-time World Series champion, and two-time batting title winner. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986. 

16. Gabby Hartnett

Years: 1922-1941 (20 seasons)

Teams: Chicago Cubs, New York Giants

Career Stats: 1,990 games, 1,912 hits, .297 batting average, 236 home runs, 1,179 runs batted in, 867 runs scored

Gabby Hartnett made his debut on April 12, 1922 and played his last game on September 24, 1941. He played the first 19 seasons of his 20-year career with the Chicago Cubs, finishing with double-digit home runs in 12 different seasons. He finished in the top-23 of MVP voting 10 times. 

In fact, Hartnett won the MVP award in 1935 and was a six-time All-Star throughout his career. He hit a career-high 37 home runs in 1930 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955.

15. Joe Torre

Years: 1960-1977 (18 seasons)

Teams: Milwaukee Braves, Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Mets

Career Stats: 2,209 games, 2,342 hits, .297 batting average, 252 home runs, 1,185 runs batted in, 996 runs scored

Before Joe Torre was a legendary manager for the New York Yankees, he was a legendary player for the Braves, Cardinals, and Mets. He made his debut on September 25, 1960 and played his final game on June 17, 1977. He was only inducted into the Hall of Fame as manager.

Torre finished his 18-year playing career as a nine-time All-Star, one-time Gold Glove winner, one-time MVP, one-time batting title winner, and one-time Major League Player of the Year.

14. Lance Parrish

Years: 1977-1995 (19 seasons)

Teams: Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, California Angels, Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Toronto Blue Jays

Career Stats: 1,988 games, 1,782 hits, .252 batting average, 324 home runs, 1,070 rubs batted in, 856 runs scored

Lance Parrish made his debut on September 5, 1977 – just several months after Joe Torre’s final game – and played his last game on September 23, 1995. He only played in 12 games his first season, but hit at least 10 home runs in each of the next 15 seasons – including 33 in 1984.

Parrish finished his career as an eight-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger, three-time Gold Glove winner, and one-time World Series champion with the Detroit Tigers in 1984. 

13. Thurman Munson

Years: 1969-1979 (11 seasons)

Teams: New York Yankees 

Career Stats: 1,423 games, 1,558 hits, .292 batting average, 113 home runs, 701 runs batted in, 696 runs scored

Thurman Munson made his debut on August 8, 1969 and played his final game on August 1, 1979. While he only played 11 seasons, he recorded at least 110 hits in 10 of them. He also finished with more than 100 RBIs in three seasons and hit more than 10 home runs six times.

Munson finished his career as a one-time MVP, Rookie of the Year, seven-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, and two-time World Series Champion. 

12. Joe Mauer

Years: 2004-2018 (15 seasons)

Teams: Minnesota Twins

Career Stats: 1,858 games, 2,123 hits, .306 batting average, 143 home runs, 923 runs batted in, 1,018 runs scored

Joe Mauer made his debut on April 5, 2004 and played his last game on September 30, 2018. He played his entire 15-year career with the Minnesota Twins and had more than 119 hits in 13 of those seasons – including 191 hits in 2009, 181 hits in 2006, and 176 hits in 2008. 

He finished his career as a six-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, five-time Silver Slugger, and three-time batting title winner. He also finished in the top-8 of MVP voting four times in a five-year span from 2006-2010, including winning the MVP award in 2009. 

11. Buster Posey

Years: 2009-present (12 seasons)

Teams: San Francisco Giants

Career Stats: 1,371 games, 1,500 hits, .302 batting average, 158 home runs, 729 runs batted in, 663 runs scored

Buster Posey made his debut on September 11, 2009 and is currently the catcher for the San Francisco Giants. He has played his entire 12-year career with the team and is one of the best catchers in the league today. He bats well, he hits a lot of home runs, and gets a lot of doubles. 

He won the Rookie of the Year award in 2010 and then won the MVP award in 2012. He’s a seven-time All-Star, one-time Gold Glove winner, five-time Silver Slugger, one-time batting title winner, and three-time World Series champion. 

10. Bill Dickey

Years: 1928-1946 (17 seasons)

Teams: New York Yankees

Career Stats: 1,789 games, 1,969 hits, .313 batting average, 202 home runs, 1,209 runs batted in, 930 runs scored

Bill Dickey made his debut on August 15, 1928 and played his final game on September 8, 1946. He played his entire 17-year career with the New York Yankees and would’ve played longer if it weren’t for a two-year hiatus in 1944 and 1945 due to military service (World War II). 

Dickey finished his career as an 11-time All-Star and won the World Series seven times with the Yankees. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player in 1954.

9. Gary Carter

Years: 1974-1992 (19 seasons)

Teams: Montreal Expos, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants

Career Stats: 2,296 games, 2,092 hits, .262 batting average, 324 home runs, 1,225 runs batted in, 1,025 runs scored

Gary Carter made his debut on September 16, 1974 and played his final game on September 27, 1992. He played the first 12 seasons of his career with the Montreal Expos before spending five years with the New York Mets, a year with the Dodgers, and a year with the Giants. 

Carter was an 11-time All-Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, five-time Silver Slugger, two-time All-Star MVP, one-time World Series champion, and eventual Hall-of-Famer in 2003. 

8. Mickey Cochrane

Years: 1925-1937 (13 seasons)

Teams: Philadelphia Athletics, Detroit Tigers

Career Stats: 1,482 games, 1,652 hits, .320 batting average, 119 home runs, 830 runs batted in, 1,041 runs scored

Mickey Cochrane made his debut on April 14, 1925 and played his last game on May 25, 1937. After nine years with the Philadelphia Athletics, Cochrane finished his career with the Detroit Tigers and is one of few players to win the Most Valuable Player award with two different teams. 

In fact, Cochrane finished in the top-20 of MVP voting in each of the first four seasons of his career – including finishing 10th his rookie year, 4th in 1927, and winning the award in 1928. He was also a two-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion.

7. Carlton Fisk

Years: 1969-1993 (24 years)

Teams: Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox

Career Stats: 2,499 games, 2,356 hits, .269 batting average, 376 home runs, 1,330 runs batted in, 1,276 runs scored

Carlton Fisk made his debut on September 18, 1969 and played his final game on June 22, 1993. He played 24 seasons in the big leagues and played a game in four different decades. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 1972 after playing just 54 games the previous three years.

Fisk ended his career as an 11-time All-Star, one-time Gold Glove winner, three-time Silver Slugger, and was eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame as a player in 2000. 

6. Roy Campanella

Years: 1937-1957 (18 seasons)

Teams: Washington Elite Giants, Baltimore Elite Giants, Philadelphia Stars, Brooklyn Dodgers

Career Stats: 1,430 games, 1,401 hits, .283 batting average, 260 home runs, 1,107 runs batted in, 771 runs scored

Roy Campanella made his debut in 1937 for the Negro National League II and played in the league for eight years. He then made his MLB debut on April 20, 1948 and played his final game on September 29, 1957. He won three MVP awards in a five-year span from 1951-1955. 

Campanella led the league with 142 RBIs in 1953 and hit more than nine home runs in each of his MLB seasons – incuding a career-high 33 home runs in 1951. He was an 11-time All-Star, one-time World Series champion, and eventual Hall-of-Famer in 1969. 

5. Mike Piazza

Years: 1992-2007 (16 seasons)

Teams: New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Florida Marlins, Oakland Athletics

Career Stats: 1,912 games, 2,127 hits, .308 batting average, 427 home runs, 1,335 runs batted in, 1,048 runs scored

Mike Piazza made his debut on September 1, 1992 and played his final game on September 30, 2007. He won Rookie of the Year in 1993 after hitting 35 home runs and driving in 112 runs. He hit double-digit home runs in 13 straight seasons, including 40 home runs in 1997 and 1999. 

Piazza ended his 16-year career with 12 All-Star appearances, 10 Silver Slugger awards, one All-Star MVP award, and an eventual Hall-of-Fame induction in 2016. 

4. Josh Gibson

Years: 1930-1946 (14 seasons)

Teams: Memphis Red Sox, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Homestead Grays

Career Stats: 598 games, 806 hits, .374 batting average, 165 home runs, 725 runs batted in, 611 runs scored

Josh Gibson made his debut in 1930 with the Negro National League, but only recorded two hits in one game played. He was the pride of the Negro National League II from 1933-1946 and was one of the league’s best hitters of all-time. He was way ahead of his time and competition. 

Gibson led the league in home runs 11 times, RBIs seven times, walks three times, triples twice, doubles twice, hits twice, batting average three times, and runs five times. He was a 12-time All-Star, two-time champion, and two-time Triple Crown winner. 

3. Ivan Rodriguez

Years: 1991-2011 (21 seasons)

Teams: Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, Washington Nationals, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Florida Marlins

Career Stats: 2,543 games, 2,844 hits, .296 batting average, 311 home runs, 1,332 runs batted in, 1,354 runs scored

Ivan Rodriguez made his debut on June 20, 1991 and played his final game on September 28, 2011. He spent the first 12 years of his career with the Rangers and hit double-digit home runs 10 times during that span. His career-high was 35 home runs in 1999 when he won MVP. 

In addition to being a one-time MVP, Rodriguez was a 14-time All-Star, 13-time Gold Glove winner, seven-time Silver Slugger, one-time NLCS MVP, and one-time champion. 

2. Yogi Berra

Years: 1946-1965 (19 seasons)

Teams: New York Yankees, New York Mets

Career Stats: 2,120 games, 2,150 hits, .285 batting average, 358 home runs, 1,430 runs batted in, 1,175 runs scored

Yogi Berra made his debut on September 22, 1946 – where he hit a home run and drove in two runs – and played his final game on May 9, 1965. He spent the first 18 years of his career with the New York Yankees, winning an impressive 10 World Series Championships in that span. 

From 1950-1956, Berra finished in the top-4 of MVP voting each season. In that span, he won the award three times (including back-to-back in 1954 and 1955) and finished as the runner up twice. He was an 18-time All-Star and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972. 

1. Johnny Bench

Years: 1967-1983 (17 seasons)

Teams: Cincinnati Reds

Career Stats: 2,158 games, 2,048 hits, .267 batting average, 389 home runs, 1,376 runs batted in, 1,091 runs scored

Johnny Bench made his debut on August 28, 1967 and played the final game of his career on September 29, 1983. He had one at-bat in his final game, which he turned into a two-RBI hit. He won the Rookie of the Year in 1968 and then the MVP award in 1970 and again in 1972. 

Not only that, but Bench was a 14-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove winner, two-time champion, one-time World Series MVP, one-time Major League Player of the Year, and Hall-of-Famer.

Who Are the Best Catchers in 2022?

The best catchers of all-time will forever be remembered for their greatness on the field, both as a catcher and as a batter. No one was better at the position than the players listed above, but that doesn’t mean it always has to be like that. In fact, new greats are born every single day. 

Things are no different in today’s game. There are a few active catchers in the MLB right now that could be considered some of the best catchers of all-time by the time they retire. Some of them are already on the list, including Yadier Molina (#19) and Buster Posey (#11). 

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Some of the other best catchers in the league today include J.T. Realmuto, Yasmani Grandal, Will Smith, Willson Contreras, Sean Murphy, Austin Nola, Salvador Perez, Travis d’Arnaud, Mitch Garver, Gary Sanchez, Christian Vazquez, and James McCann.

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