Schechter: Charlie Berry, six careers in one

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on February 23, 2017:

Why don’t more catchers become umpires? The majority seem to be former pitchers, who are used to controlling the tempo and flavor of the game. But catchers are the field generals, calling defensive signals and selecting pitches. There’s a bond between catchers and umpires behind the plate, sharing the same wide-angle view of the field action and the same vulnerability to stray pitches and foul tips. Maybe a catcher, having survived all those years of physical abuse, doesn’t want to get paid less money to move two feet farther back from the plate into a more thankless role.

Charlie Berry was the big exception to this rule, a seasoned catcher who had an even more significant career as an umpire. He was the exception to a lot of rules, a man who had significant stints as a player, coach, and official—in both major sports of his time. This remarkable man crowded six careers into a period of several decades, distinguishing himself in each one.

Born in New Jersey in 1902, Charles Francis Berry was the son of Charles Joseph Berry, an infielder for 43 games in the Union Association in 1884. Young Charlie made his first mark as a football player at Lafayette College. An end, kick returner, and placekicker, he played on Lafayette’s undefeated team as a freshman and in his senior year, in 1924, was named to Walter Camp’s final All-American team. He also starred on the baseball team and was the president of his senior class.

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Originally published: February 23, 2017. Last Updated: February 23, 2017.