The next challenge

The life of a catcher is pretty simple they catch nine innings and take a beating behind the plate. The life of a catcher is no different that being a goalie in hockey. Both positions take a beating, and the players who play those positions can’t have it all upstairs.

Why else would a young man put his body through the pain he does on a daily basis?

Catchers take a lot of beatings behind the plate. There isn’t a game that goes by where a catcher doesn’t take a fowl ball off a body part like a shin, arm or hand. And don’t even talk about when they take a foul tip off the mask.

But, being a catcher is also exciting. The catcher is involved in almost every aspect of the game. They call out the defense and are instrumental on the pitching staff.

“I spend a lot of my offseason and early practices catching bullpens and working with my pitchers on how they're feeling with their specific pitches, and new pitches they're trying to throw,” stated Lancaster High School’s Tony Brown. “I feel almost unprepared if I haven't caught a pitcher in a while, and I always like to know their tendencies and how their pitches work to benefit both myself and the team.”

Brown has been a big part of the recent success of the Lancaster baseball team that has Division I and II scouts from across the country drooling. Brown is one of a handful of players that is continuing his collegiate career at either a Division I or II institution.

Like most kids going through the recruiting process, Brown would have just rather focus on baseball. At least then he could control what he could control. The recruiting process in an animal that many players would rather not have to go through.

“The recruiting process for me was very long and difficult, but also fun. It was a very tough decision deciding between the offers I had, and the benefits of going to each university,” stated Brown. “I spent a lot of time over this past offseason visiting each college, and making sure each one would fulfill my needs. In the end, the recruiting process is unique and one that I will never forget. I would definitely go back and do it again if I had to.”

Out of a handful of schools, Brown decided on Mansfield University. The school in Ohio was perfect fit for the Lancaster backstop.

Mansfield has a solid baseball program to go along with a solid academic program. It also is the perfect distance from home – not too far away to come and visit, but just far away enough to be on his own.

“I chose Mansfield due to the history of the program, and also the culture that's becoming of Mansfield baseball,” stated Brown. “Also, it's relatively close to my home, and offers a good program for my major. My family helped a lot with my decision to go to Mansfield, and having the chance to compete as a freshman played a large role as well.”

Competing as a freshman is key for a lot of kids when looking at colleges. No one wants to have to sit on the bench and waste eligibility. For Brown to be able to play right away, he knows he needs to improve his all around game.

That includes fine tuning his hitting and his approach to the plate.

“I think the biggest thing will be to fine tune my hitting,” stated Brown. “I'm pretty confident in my defensive ability to carry me through college, and it will be a bonus to really solidify my offensive approach throughout college.”

No one will doubt his catching abilities. You can easily put Brown up there with some of the best catchers in Western New York. Some of his biggest strengths are his how he calls a game.

Brown puts a lot of stock in being a good defensive catcher. He wants to make sure the pitching staff is having a good game. With the type of offense Lancaster has, Brown isn’t ask to carry to load.

“I think being a good catcher requires many qualities. I think you have to be a good leader, and really know the game of baseball,” stated Brown. “It also helps to be a little bigger, and you have to be tough. I also believe that defense is more important than offense as a catcher, as in many plays we're the captain of the field. We take a beating behind the plate and often times are under appreciated, but that's what we signed up for.

But, catching does take a toll on the body. Making sure you come home and get the proper rest is important. Taking care of all the bumps and bruises is important if someone like Brown is going to last the entire season.

Adding to the aches and pains is a compact Western New York baseball schedule. Playing a lot of games in a short amount time can take a toll on anyone.

“I try to get a lot of rest, and eat a lot of protein, and drink water and cranberry juice,” explained Brown. “Rest is very important with our loaded schedule and being able to last the whole season and not get tired out is one of my main goals for this season.”

Another goal for Brown and Lancaster is to finish what they started and win a state title. With the team being as loaded as they are, Brown couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to play with.

“It's an unbelievable atmosphere being able to come to school and practice everyday and knowing that each guy is here pushing you to get better,” stated Brown. “Everyone is so positive and reassuring and they're always there to cover you if you make an error. I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to play my senior season with.”