"The Tools Of Ignorance"--quite possibly the most inappropriate nickname for the characteristic gear of any position in sports--refers to the equipment (heavy mask, chest protector, and shin guards) of the catcher, which--when introduced in the first decade of the twentieth century allowed catchers to move closer behind the batter without drastically increasing their risk of being maimed by a foul ball or a flying bat, though until recently spotting a long-time catcher was easy: shake hands with him and count the creatively mangled fingers. Thus protected, the catcher was better enabled to practice his crucial role on the team: handling the pitchers, keeping baserunners locked down, and serving as the last line of defense against runners trying to score, among other important tasks. These defensive tasks are considered so important that a man capable of performing them well has historically been able to hold a starting job with a bat so weak that even some pitchers watch their performances at the plate disdainfully. The very best catchers have traditionally been the ones who have balanced superb defensive talents with a solid bat--though as a group the great catchers are far, far less capable hitters than those at any position except shortstop (and pitchers, of course). The arrival of Mike Piazza in the majors in the early 1990's produced the first real challenge to that formula, and requires a rethinking of the position to the degree that others like Piazza might be along one day, making the "superb hitter, OK fielder" archetype for the great catcher a real alternative, rather than an anomaly.