Charles Reipschlager

Catcher
  • Card series: 1880s: Spotted Ties
  • City: New York
  • Team: Metropolitans
  • League: American Association

Charles W. Reipchlager (aka Ripslager) (1856-1910) was a reserve catcher, playing the one position that didn’t require an ability to hit the curve, just corral it. His major league tenure was primarily with the New York Metropolitans, beginning in 1883. He lasted four seasons as a partner with Bill Holbert, himself a light-hitting but capable receiver.

Charlie moved on to the Cleveland Blues for the ’87 season where he labored in 63 games and batted .212. He would try one more time to escape the minors. He signed with the Brooklyn Gladiators for the upcoming 1890 season, only to be released before the campaign began. The Gladiators would go on to a 26-73 record that year which must have convinced Reipschlager that the majors were simply out of reach.

Reipschlager and Holbert were working behind the plate during an era of rapid change in pitching distances and pitching technique. The National League loosened the requirements for the pitching motion in 1884 but the Metropolitans’ American Association didn’t follow suit until mid-way through the ’85 campaign. In 1886 both leagues lengthened the pitcher’s “box” and placed a flat stone at the front of it to allow the umpire to police the pitcher’s adherence to the defined space. The “mound” would await the 20th century’s innovations.

  • Reipschlager’s career batting average was a meager .222, but he earned his keep in an era when short distances from the pitcher’s “plate” to home made it perhaps more challenging to catch than to hit

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