Introducing… Pop Snyder

Although Snyder holds the career records for errors and passed balls for catchers, one must note that he played in the 1800s when catching gear was crude.  He didn’t have the huge, padded mitt that catchers operate with today, nor the chest protector and shin guards.  All Pop had for bodily protection was his own flesh and blood. 

A rarity of the 1800s–a catcher who caught for 18 seasons–Pop Snyder brought little to the field offensively.  His error totals may have been steep, but Pop was regarded as an elite defensive catcher.  Errors were recorded much differently in the game’s early years then they are now, so one must take 1800 errors with a grain of salt.  Johnny Bench wouldn’t have been any better under the circumstances than Snyder.

Pop joined the Washington Blue Legs of the old National Association as an 18-year-old in 1873.  His first three years in the Majors were spent with three different teams, but in 1876, he latched on with the Louisville Grays as their everyday catcher.  The following year he paced the National League in games played.  Pop’s steadying presence behind the dish allowed Louisville to climb up to second place in the NL in 1877.  That year he led catchers in fielding percentage–something he’d do the next two years as well.

Snyder left Louisville for the Boston Red Caps in 1878 where his batting average fell to .212.  Despite his lackluster hitting, Snyder had the goods defensively, indicated by his league leading fielding percentage and most putouts by a catcher.  One of his best years with the bat came in 1879 when he posted a career high in doubles, but when his run production fell off significantly, the Red Caps bid farewell to their receiver.

The American Association began play in 1882 and Pop joined the Cincinnati Red Stockings.  He found the new league to his liking as Pop hit a career high .291 with 50 RBI (another career high) in 72 games.  The bulk of Snyder’s career would be spent with the Red Stockings, but with each passing year, as the talent in the AA rose, Pop’s offensive numbers dipped.  When he managed only a .186 batting average in 1886, Cincy sold his contract to the Cleveland Blues where he had his last decent year with the stick.  He platooned with Chief Zimmer in Cleveland in 1888 and was a backup the remainder of his career, which ended after the 1891 season.


G 930/R 433/H 855/2B 124/3B 41/HR 9/RBI 384/BA .235/SA .299/OBP .254

1 comment
  1. brettkiser said:

    Pop’s weak batting numbers will always keep him out of the HOF. He was one of the top defenders of his time (errors aside), but HOF voters care little for guys that field well and offer next-to-nothing with the stick. His HOF chances are very weak.

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