I watched the Cubs play the Phillies a few days ago and as always I paid most attention to Chooch Ruiz and Wellington Castillo catching. Now you may have noticed that Wellington Castillo puts his skull cap forward underneath his helmet, instead of the traditional backwards cap. Just about everybody who wears the skull cap wears it backwards, but there are a few guys who buck the trend.
|Wellington Castillo. Source|
|Jose Lobaton. Source|
Towards the beginning of the Cubs-Phillies game I noticed that Carlos Ruiz was wearing his skull cap forward, but I always knew him to be a traditional guy. Would a guy really change this late in his career? As the game went on, I saw that it wasn’t just a fluke.
Chooch had never done that before, so it made me wonder why somebody would be wearing his brim forward instead of backwards. I mean it seems like a lot of trouble to go through.
After a brief scouring of Youtube I found this interview with Salty, which lends some insight on the forward-facing brim:
“It started in Spring Training because there was a day game so I always had it in front to cover the sun so I didn’t have to wear glasses or anything, and then it turned into having a pretty good Spring catching-wise so I was like alright maybe it’s a superstition thing…”
He went on to talk about how it may be more than superstition:
“The truth of it is it makes me focus on what I need to focus on. If it’s open I’m looking at the outfield and I see everyone moving and where they need to be, if I focus on what I’m supposed to focus on, the pitcher and the shortstop and second. That’s honestly why I like to do it, because it helps me focus…”
As for Chooch, we know he’s worn sunglasses this year, we also know it’s not a superstition thing because he hasn’t done it before. But I wonder if front-brimmer Wellington Castillo didn’t go over to him and suggest that he try the front brim because of the afternoon sun at Wrigley. The Phillies haven’t played the Cubs at home yet this year, so it’s very possible that Wellington warned Chooch of the glare and he took his advice.
Another bit of evidence is that, in the later innings, Chooch switched back to normal when the sun subsided.
That would be weird for me to switch in game like that. The Front Brim Catchers Club is a small and exclusive club of guys that tried something and found it comfortable, and that’s what catchers gear is supposed to do. Make you feel comfortable, or the most comfortable you can be. I guess Chooch got used to the mask quickly. I’ve been there before at a late afternoon game where the sun is low and right in your sight line, you have to do something different, and Chooch did.