Harry Decker

  • Card series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: Philadelphia
  • Team: Quakers
  • League: National League

Earle Harry Decker (1864-?) was a catcher for six teams over four seasons in the majors. He came into pro ball at an opportune time for a young man. 1884 saw the arrival of the short-lived Union Association whose entry into the “big leagues” allowed many minor league and marginal players a chance at the elite level, if only briefly. Harry was nothing if not opportunistic. He was clever enough to patent a thumbless catcher’s mitt (“The Decker Safety Catcher’s Mitt”) and cunning enough to pursue a criminal career that landed him in San Quentin prison under the name Earl Henry Davenport. Harry led a long life of crime, using multiple aliases, which has prevented baseball historians from tracking his life after baseball. He did show up in a team photo of the San Quentin squad and a reporter recalled him from his Keokuk days as a good defensive catcher. A versatile fielder, Decker played most positions but was a weak hitter, resulting in short stints in the majors followed by return to the minors (five teams in the US and Canada.)

  • Harry’s most productive season was his last, with Pittsburgh, in 1890. He hit .274 in 92 games

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