Wandering With Wayne

by Wayne Dodson

Blind as a Bat

After completing the 3rd inning, with his team giving up two runs, Insane Mcnutly, the team's shortstop, has just returned to the dugout with an unhappy look. 

“What's wrong Nut?” asked his Manager.

“Well gee-willikers Oz, I never know where to throw the ball after taking the relay from the OF. I ain’t got no eyes in the back of my head. Sometimes I think these guys wanna keep the base runners a secret just to see what I do. If I had a heads-up I coulda cut that last runner down before he scored.”

Oz sympathized, “So you feel like you’re down in a deep dark abyss?”


Insane is right. Aside from wondering what part of the country still uses the expression “gee-willikers”, every middle infielder that charges out to get the relay from the OF has his back to the bases with no idea where the runners are at that moment. He is as blind as a bat, and without verbal help runners gain 3 - 5 steps before the relay man can zero-in his throw. It’s insane!

[notice how the shrewd editor used the same word to begin and end the paragraph]

Upon reflection, the situation gets worse – or funny depending on the point of view. Consider this: 21 players, 2 umpires, 2 scorekeepers, 18+ spectators, and even the delivery truck driver going by on SW 98th Street knows the location of all the base runners. Yet the one poor guy who truly has a ”need to know” is left blind.

A problem identified always cries out for a solution:

Designate the LOUDEST player not in the action – usually 1B, P, C, even OF can see all the bases – to locate and anticipate runner advancement. Make that person the sole designated megaphone “play-caller.” To keep the relay person from being confused, it is vital to have one-voice communication. That voice should keep the calls simple with some of the most magic words a relay person could hear: "2B","3B","HOME", "Hold the Ball", or some consistent variation.

This is a challenging job. The “play-caller” must be loud, consistently alert, and time the call before the relay person catches the ball. Understand, the relay person must make a smooth turning motion to the IF which starts before the catch from OF is made. So as not to upset the rhythm of his upper body action to finish his turn to the infield and make an accurate throw he must know where the ball is going before the catch.

Managers, players, anyone; help the poor wandering middle infielder from falling into the deep dark abyss. It will pay off, defensively.

Relay all comments to me at jacway48@gmail.com.

February 2, 2024