- Card series: Beginnings: 1880's
- City: Kansas City
- Team: Blues (WA)
- League: Western Association
Joseph Brook Gunson (1863-1942) was a pioneer catcher in baseball’s early days. Three years before his death, Gunson donated his original mitt to the new Hall of Fame. During his life and since, historians have been as split over who deserves the honor of inventing the catcher’s glove as were the fingers of Gunson and his fellow backstop on the Western League KC Blues. Those torn hands prompted Gunson to contrive some protection. Doc Bushong or Harry Decker may have beaten Joe to the draw, but there can be no argument that this stalwart receiver was a key contributor to the game he loved. Gunson debuted with the lowly Washington club of the upstart Union Association in 1884, then knocked around the minors until catching on with the Browns, Spiders, Orioles and Cowboys during a four-year ML stint.
- Gunson’s stats are unimpressive: a .211 BA, with little power. Yet, like so many early players, he made his mark on the fledgling sport with grit and creativity which laid a foundation for all who were to follow
- The Sporting Life compared Gunson’s hands with their “knots and gnarls” to famed Chicagoan Sylvester “Silver” Flint’s “battered paws.” Such was the catcher’s lot in the 19th century….