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Roger Bresnahan

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Roger_bresnahan.jpg
Roger Bresnahan catching for the Giants against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Note the similarity between his shinguards and 19th century cricket pads

Roger Philip Bresnahan (June 11, 1879 - December 4, 1944), nicknamed "The Duke of Tralee", was an American player in Major League Baseball who starred primarily as a catcher. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1945.

Born in Toledo, Ohio, he began his major league career as a pitcher, throwing a six-hit shutout on August 27, 1897. However, he eventually moved to catcher (although he could play all nine positions), and was labeled one of the best at that position by managers John McGraw and Branch Rickey. Despite taunts by other players, he experimented with head and thigh protection gear which had been introduced by some college teams, and this led to the widespread use of more protection for catchers in the early 20th century. He played for the Washington Senators (1897), Chicago Orphans/Cubs (1900, 1913-15), Baltimore Orioles (1901-02), New York Giants (1902-08) and St. Louis Cardinals (1909-12). In 1430 games, he had a batting average of .279 in 4480 at-bats.

Bresnahan died of a heart attack at his home in Toledo at age 65, and was elected to the Hall of Fame the following year.

His Hall of Fame plaque says the following:

ROGER BRESNAHAN 
BATTERY MATE OF CHRISTY MATHEWSON 
WITH THE NEW YORK GIANTS, HE WAS 
ONE OF THE GAME'S MOST NATURAL 
PLAYERS AND MIGHT HAVE STARRED 
AT ANY POSITION. THE "DUKE OF TRALEE" 
WAS ONE OF THE FEW MAJOR LEAGUE 
CATCHERS FAST ENOUGH TO BE USED 
AS A LEADOFF MAN.

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