February 12, 1878 – Harvard University team captain Fredrick Thayer patents the
catcher’s mask. Nearly 100 years later, a throat guard becomes standard
protection after a Dodgers game in 1976 when Steve Yeager,
standing in the on-deck circle, was struck in the throat by a piece of
Bill Russell’s broken bat. Yeager suffered a pierced
esophagus and nine pieces of wood were removed from the area during a 98-minute
surgical procedure. L.A. trainer Bill Buhler designed a plastic
guard to hang from the catcher’s mask.