The Cy Young Catcher by Charlie O’Brien and Doug Wedge (2015)


The Cy Young Catcher
by Charlie O’Brien and Doug Wedge
Texas A&M University Press, 2015
208 pages

The Cy Young Award is the highest individual honor a pitcher can receive after an outstanding season. During his major league career, catcher Charlie O’Brien played with thirteen different pitchers recognized as the best pitcher in the league. Some of those pitchers were at the end of the road (Pete Vuckovich, Steve Bedrosian, Jack McDowell), while others were in their primes (Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Roger Clemens, Pat Hentgen). Some were still learning how to effectively pitch at the big league level (John Smoltz, Chris Carpenter). O’Brien utilized his wisdom behind the plate to call the pitches that would get batters out and help his team win, and his pitchers trusted him to make the right calls.

The Cy Young Catcher is a thirteen-chapter book in which O’Brien discusses working with these thirteen pitchers, but it is so much more. With his conversational tone, O’Brien discusses the ups and downs of his career, what worked and what didn’t, and what went on in the clubhouse. He expresses disappointment with Darryl Strawberry‘s selfish attitude at the end of the 1990 season, and explains how he encouraged Chipper Jones to take infield practice more seriously. He mentions Dwight Gooden‘s hospitality when he first arrived in New York, attributing some of the young pitcher’s substance abuse struggles (which he never personally witnessed) to his desire to be liked. He also discusses the allegations of steroid use by Toronto teammate Roger Clemens, stating his opinion that Clemens never used, pointing out that he even refused to use a scuffed ball in a game because he considered it cheating.

O’Brien is also known for developing the hockey-style catching mask, and writes about the difficulties he faced in getting approval from baseball to use it in a game. He peppers the books with compliments about various managers and umpires, and gets a few digs in as well. The Cy Young Catcher is a highly entertaining book. The language may be a bit too salty for younger readers, but mature readers will enjoy his stories and recollections of his major league experience.

Learn more about Texas A&M University Press.

Purchase The Cy Young Catcher by Charlie O’Brien and Doug Wedge.


About JT

Preacher. Author. 911 dispatcher. Baseball fan. Horror nut. Music nerd. Bookworm. Time Magazine's 2006 Person of the Year.

Posted on April 28, 2015, in baseball, books, reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I always liked O’Brien when he was a youngster with the Brewers. I am going to have to get this book. Thanks for the review!

  2. Sounds like a book I’m going to have to pick up!

  3. splinters from the bench

    I played baseball and basketball with charlie’s brother tom at bishop kelley in tulsa.tom was an excellent baketball player, and charlie was an unofficial hoops ball boy as a 7th grader. It is hard to believe 43 yrs later charlie played 15 years in the major leagues and fortunately, charlie could hit a baseball, something that was difficult for tom. As a career bench warmer for 5a semifinalist, I have watched a lot and read a ton of baseball. Reading excerpts from charlie ob’s book, cy young catcher, was rivetting. Yes, charlie was known as a defensive catcher, but his book is about handling pitchers, and calling a game. I will buy ob’s book for my sports book collection of 50 yrs, just need to find a depository for my collection. Having caught 2 yrs myself, cy young catcher takes you directly behind the plate giving signals for pitches. Ob’s calling the 5 pitch is f bomb epic! What happens when you can’t hit a hook, you become a cpa. Read the book and enjoy candid mlb insights.

    One of my high school teammates lost his 3rd base job in class a ball to a 1st yr minor leaguer who could hit, hall of famer wade boggs!

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