A personal catcher is a catcher who catches one pitcher in order to give the regular catcher a day off. This catcher rarely catches the other pitchers on the staff. A personal catcher is often used with a knuckleballer. The idea goes back to the 1930s, but it has become more prevalent in recent years.
There have been some extreme cases of a personal catcher.
- From 1976 to 1979, Tim McCarver started 128 of Steve Carlton's 140 starts.
- In 1986 and 1987, Chris Bando caught 51 of Phil Niekro's starts for the Indians.
- In 1995, the Braves allowed Charlie O'Brien to start 56 games, 28 starts by each Steve Avery and Greg Maddux. Javy Lopez handled the other pitchers including 28 of the 29 starts by John Smoltz.
- In 2006, the Red Sox traded for Doug Mirabelli in May after he was signed by the Padres in the off season. Starting catcher Jason Varitek was uncomfortable catching knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
In a rare case of a personal catcher associated with a relief pitcher, the Montreal Expos kept Tim Spehr on the roster from 1993 to 1996 to act as reliever Mel Rojas's personal catcher. Rojas threw a nasty forkball that few catchers could handle.