The Problem Was Always Known in the MLB
It is well known that catcher have one of the toughest jobs in baseball. Staying in crouched position calling the pitches, blocking badly thrown balls and blocking the plate intuitively seems to place an extraordinary demand on their body, especially their knees. In the baseball world, it is well known, that catchers get “bad knees”. It is believed by both the organization (coaches, trainers, etc.) and the media that these players incur some type of chronic damage secondary to their positioning, squatting. This baseball lore is so prevalent that players actually change positions either early or late in their career in order to prolong their occupation. An “early” example would include Craig Biggio who moved to second base and “late” examples would include Darren Daulton, Gary Carter, and Johnny Bench, to name a few, who moved to first base. Recently, Bryce Harper moved to the outfield.
Many catchers themselves had given testimony to their athletic trainers, coaches and media how their position has affected their knees. In a personal interview with Gary Carter in 1993, his final year, he described to me how bad his knees were. The pain was excruciating in the squatting position. In fact, he could no longer bend his knees past 90 – 100 degrees flexion during the squat without being extremely uncomfortable. He therefore called his signals kneeling and got into a high squat, greater that the 90 – 100 degree flexion, during the pitch. This allowed him to play with less pain but caused more fatigue because he was unable to have his buttocks rest on his calves as other players do during a full squat.
The Story Behind the Invention
The Knee Saver was patented in 1991 after a few years of working out the kinks.
I was a catcher as a little kid but I also had massive knee injuries as a college wrestler and could not squat. I guess multiple menisectomies and an ACL repair had taken its toll. A few years after college I was trying to squat to fix a plug cover and just couldn’t do it. By putting towels where the Knee Savers go I was able to remove all the discomfort. That is when the light bulb went off. From there I did tons of research to see if something existed like this. It didn’t. I was able to get the patent you see on the left a few years later. With tons of effort trying to get companies to make it usually ended with rejection. I actually went through five companies before the right prototype was a success. From there I would meet pro players to try and get them to wear it. This was an eight year journey and only became successful when Cleveland Indian catcher Sandy Alomar Jr used them to save his career. The rest is history.