Top of page

Exhibition Baseball Americana

Ralph Eaton’s (1898–1986) shin guards. Canvas and leather. Courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (084.00.00)

Early Shin Guards

When pitchers were allowed to throw overhand beginning in 1884, catchers began crouching ever closer to the batter for better defense. Masks, chest protectors, and thicker mitts quickly caught on, but shin guards were the last major addition to the catcher’s suit of detachable armor. Long used in cricket, such leg protection did not appear in the major leagues until 1907. Ralph Eaton, a catcher for a semi-pro team in Danville, Ohio, used these shin guards in the 1920s.