Ruane: Doug Allison, king of catchers, braved the game with guts, no mask

From Michael E. Ruane at the Washington Post on October 5, 2014, with mention of SABR members Peter Morris and John Thorn:

Doug Allison had been a clerk in the dead-letter department of the post office for 30 years when he collapsed on the sidewalk near his home in Washington’s Columbia Heights neighborhood right before Christmas 1916.

He was 70 and had died of heart failure. He was laid to rest in Rock Creek Cemetery, and his passing was only briefly noted in the newspaper.

Few remembered that years before, in the distant time right after the Civil War, Allison had been a hotshot sports figure — the “king of catchers” in the roughhouse game of baseball.

In a sport more rugged than today’s, he was among the early catchers to stand unprotected right behind the batter, braving foul balls, swung bats and the increasing velocity of pitches.

“He’s one of the really major figures,” baseball historian Peter Morris said.

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Originally published: October 6, 2014. Last Updated: October 6, 2014.