Back Catcher vs. Catcher

I fell in love with baseball during the summer of '83 when I caught Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth calling Blue Jay games while spending a couple of weeks at my uncle's cottage. I was hooked.

Around this time, I was playing tee-ball. In my tee-ball league, the catcher was called "back catcher". In primary school, I played for the school's softball team, and the position was still referred to as "back catcher".

Tom and Jerry never called it "back catcher", they just called it "catcher". I'm well aware it's just "catcher", but I still periodically call it "back catcher". It just slips out after being implanted in my cranium at such a young age.

Does anyone know why we called the position back catcher instead of catcher? Is it a Canadian thing?

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Despite Mike Wilner's absurd attempts to "correct" people, there is nothing to correct because this is simply how language works. "Back catcher", as you demonstrated with your examples, is part of the Canadian dialect. I believe it is also said in and around West Virginia. If "back catcher" is wrong, then so are "icing sugar", "washroom", and "eavestrough".

May 10, 2016 @ 9:23 PM


@ Andrew

No, it's horribly wrong, don't justify its use. And it's not used in West Virginia at all. If Americans butchered hockey terms consistently (which sometimes happens), I'm guessing you wouldn't be too thrilled about it either.

May 10, 2016 @ 11:23 PM


@Andrew couldn't resist using this post to take a shot at Wilner, could ya?

I'm no fan of his nightly offering of spinmastering du jour, but this has nothing to do with him.

Back catcher seems to be a youth term, I used heard it all the time growing up playing little league and in the playground. Probably infused by coaches over time to the kids know to differentiate between the "back catcher" behind the plate and the other "catchers" in the field? If we're not calling Russel Martin the catcher, I prefer the term "backstopper."

May 11, 2016 @ 3:33 AM


I always wince when I hear someone use the term "back catcher." It sounds so "I know very little about baseball but I'm really into these Jays.." If a commentator used it, he would be fired the next day.

May 11, 2016 @ 8:29 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Now I'm not suggesting commenters should use the term, or that it's the proper term, merely that people like me grew up with the term and will occasionally slip up.

I was really wondering if it was a regional thing. Perhaps it was called 'back catcher' in Canadian youth leagues or something like that.

May 11, 2016 @ 8:44 AM

Chris in EY

I use baseball returner.

May 11, 2016 @ 9:28 AM




I grew up with "back-catcher" in school and in my soft-ball league. I lived in Florida for 3 years and played baseball in high school (sucked btw). I don't recall what term they used or if I even noticed.

May 11, 2016 @ 10:33 AM


If the "back catcher" doesn't actually catch the ball, that must be why behind him/her is the backstop in many ball parks. Or maybe everyone else on the field is a "front catcher", given the general direction of the ball in the field. Just throwing (frontwards) stuff out there, folks.

May 11, 2016 @ 11:21 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

This is quite possibly the most important issue we face today.

May 11, 2016 @ 11:23 AM


As a child of the 60's, we all used the term 'back catcher'.
With the advent of the Expos and then Blue Jays, the Americanization of the game took over here and there is the difference.
Still drives me crazy when my wife uses the term, though!

May 11, 2016 @ 12:07 PM

John M.

My copy of Dickson Baseball Dictionary does not include this word.

I checked with my friends in SABR and they report "Backcatcher" being used in Arkansas, Chicago and Virginia. So it is not just a Canadian-thing.

I recall Buck Martinez first hearing it and thinking people were saying he was a "bad catcher."

Like Argie, I always wince when I hear the word.

May 11, 2016 @ 4:22 PM

Randy Knorr

It's Catcher. Back Catcher is what George Michael does in public bathrooms.

May 11, 2016 @ 4:34 PM


Played fastball and hardball as a kid, I think Back Catcher was a softball/fastball term. Does anyone call it hardball these days?

May 11, 2016 @ 5:44 PM



When I hear the words Ice Hockey I cringe possibly as us Canadians know that Ice hockey is HOCKEY & the rest of the planet have little experience about Hockey, especially many in U.S.
When I played Baseball in school & on other teams back catcher was used in the late 60's, early 70's & then seemed to change. On defense there are "front catchers, the infield & outfield" & a back catcher.

Does they use these terms in Cricket as I don't know?

May 11, 2016 @ 6:35 PM

Alison in Ottawa

We always said back catcher too.....I say hockey too but I certainly understand the distinction as field hockey is very popular both in Canada the US and around the world......I believe it is the second most played sport in the world after soccer. It is also a very popular NCAA sport for women.

May 13, 2016 @ 2:32 PM


Again, the term is just a function of language. It is not wrong. Ice-hockey is actually another really good example. It may bother you because it is not typical in your lexicon; however, when someone from Europe says, "would you like to play ice-hockey?", you know exactly what they are talking about, therefore, the term is not wrong. The same applies to 'back catcher'.

My original point stands. I understand language, and dialects. So please, go ahead an "wince" when you hear, but don't say it's "wrong", because it isn't.

May 13, 2016 @ 11:05 PM

George Michael

Randy is right. Are you single Mr. Knorr?

May 19, 2016 @ 2:00 PM

Keith Byers

It was a term that was used all the time. Abbott and Costello used it in their "Who's On First?" sketch to show it was very common in literature. It is not wrong by any stretch. Just because you and the people now have started to drop the back in the title.

February 10, 2017 @ 2:49 PM

Shelley Tudin

My father was a baseball fanatic! He played and coached baseball and softball in Canada. I was born in the 60's and played girls softball in the 70's. This position was called "Back Catcher" by our coach.
When I used the word 'back catcher' my father would cringe. He said the correct term is catcher! I cringe now when my husband refers to Russell Martin as a back catcher.

July 7, 2017 @ 8:43 PM


When I played Little League baseball in the 70s they referred to the Catcher as the Back Catcher.

July 11, 2017 @ 10:40 AM


I'll always say back catcher, and the last letter of the alphabet is zed. AND I did have a hilarious conversation with an Indian friend who said hockey was super popular in India, and I said it was the most popular sport in Canada. We looked each other in bewilderment until we realized it was field hockey and ice hockey.

September 11, 2017 @ 10:51 PM


My baseball playing days started in Boston's Little League. From then on I've always played the "catcher" position. We moved to Canada (east coast) when I was 12 and that's where I first heard the phrase "back catcher". It was an unpleasant WTF moment. MANY years later (tonight), I arrive home after coaching our grandson's "first pitch" team (in Whitby) and my daughter asks "Did you play back catcher?"... it was yet another WTF moment. To put it into context, the term "back catcher" is worse than calling an NHL hockey game "ice " hockey.

May 22, 2019 @ 8:56 PM

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