Chuckie Robinson is the newest Black catcher in Major League Baseball. The Danville, Illinois native and former 21st round pick now has the chance to represent a position that was once rich in our culture.
Chuckie Robinson was born to be a catcher.
His father Charles Robinson Jr. caught in the Minors for the Royals and Cubs while his grandfather spent time as a catcher in the White Sox system.
First big league homer is a NO-DOUBTER.
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) August 30, 2022
Monday night Robinson hit his first career home run after battling back from an 0-2 count.
“I hit it and I knew it was out,” Robinson told reporters after the game. “I kinda blacked out. I had to battle back and just got my pitch and handled it.”
Chuckie Robinson on how it felt to hit his first big league home run. pic.twitter.com/m7WtcmLYui
— Bally Sports Cincinnati (@BallySportsCIN) August 30, 2022
A native of Robinson’s hometown which has a population around 30,000 was in the left field stands of Great American Ballpark and caught his home run ball. It turns out Robinson knew the family and they were able to get the ball to his mother who was watching her son play in the Majors for the first time.
Black people currently make up less than 8% of Major League Baseball players according to a study done in June on MLB Player Demographics.
That percentage has climbed a little over recent years, although not by much. Despite the low numbers, our culture has had a profound impact on the sport particularly during this season where we are witnesses to Aaron Judge’s chase of the home run record, pitcher Triston McKenzie dominating the Majors top offensive lineups and even the All-Star Game where Giancarlo Stanton and Byron Buxton carried the American League to victory with game winning homers.
However, it has been almost 20 years since we have seen a productive Black catcher in the Majors.
The most recent was Charles Johnson who was drafted in the first round by the then Florida Marlins in 1992. He won four consecutive Gold Gloves from 1995-1998. When the Marlins won the World Series in 1997, Johnson had a perfect fielding percentage of 1.000.
Other historic Black catchers include Hall of Famer and three-time National League MVP Roy Campanella who was the first Black catcher in Major League Baseball’s modern era and 12-time All-Star Elston Howard who was the first MLBbro in Yankees history.
The catcher position is a lot like the quarterback in football: You have to control the game and fight harder on the mental side a bit more than the physical.
It is enjoyable watching players run down fly balls and make spectacular grabs, or even dominate in the infield like recent Gold Glove winners J.P. Crawford and Marcus Semien, but it is refreshing to finally see a MLBbro behind the plate.
This weekend Robinson and his Reds welcome the Colorado Rockies to Cincinnati for a three-game series.