Wandering With Wayne

by Wayne Dodson

How to Make a Runner's Last Step, His First to the Dugout
A Tribute

The difference between a good fielder and a great one is how efficiently he fields and delivers the ball to remove a runner from a base. With few exceptions, the same fielding principles can be applied to both the OF and IF.

Game 1 –Today

Insane McNutly, playing SS, is facing a hard-hitting, 5 foot 5 inch batter. See if you can count the number of steps Insane gives up to the runner by his thoughts and actions:

When the inning finally ended, Nut's throwing error scored a run. He came into the dugout and slumped down next to Oz lamenting, I just couldn’t see that runner, I think the circumference of the earth between SS and 1B hid that guy.”

Oz, once again sensing a teaching moment counseled, “It’s not the earth, Insane, It’s you, and practice will instill a quicker release on the ball.”

Practice? Nah, that interferes with my cocktail hour.”

Oz replied, We hold infield practice in the morning.”


We’ll return to the boys at another time and place to see if anything has improved.

It takes an average right-handed batting senior citizen 18 steps to run from the batter's box to the orange bag. In the above scenario, Nut had many chances to cut the runner by 8 steps – he only needed one.

Between Innings

Science Fiction writers explore concepts of a parallel universe – similar to ours – to explain how events in our lives have different outcomes in alternative worlds. Wander with me as we explore the events of above in another world.

A Hope and a Tribute

It’s a beautiful sunny day at the new softball complex OTOW built on 12 circular acres. There are four fields divided between 4 quadrants with a centered two-story building containing concession, showers, and bathrooms on the first floor and scorekeeper/announcer booths on the second.

The field – totally carpeted with permanent chalk lines and dugout with fountains – has a 10-foot fence 300 feet from the plate. There is also a 50-foot net attached to the 5 light poles that keep home runs from breaking windows in the ample 100-car parking lot.

The main entrance to the field is a 12-foot wide concrete pathway that has an archway sign across. The sign designates the field name – “Welcome to the JR Memorial Softball Field”.

Just to the left of the entrance is a bigger-than-life bronze statue of JR holding the reigns of a life-size horse in his right hand and his glove in the other. His face – with a smile and two raised eyebrows – is turned slightly to the batter's box. There is a plaque below that reads:

 “I distracted you down there, I can still do it up here – Lookout, the pitch is on the way.”

Game 2 – In Another World On The New Field

Zane McNally (an alternate world means different names), playing SS is facing a hard-hitting, 5 foot 5 inch batter. This time we will count the steps Zane takes away (-) from the runner through his thoughts and actions:

This time he knows what to do and can react and attack the ball.   -1 step

He’s loose and his hunter-gatherer mind is ready to pounce- 1 step

No frozen moment, he attacks the ball like it’s lunch.  - 2 steps

No chance of a ball transfer slip, the ball is in his throwing hand as soon as it touches his glove. [I hear the howls of the OF.] - 1 step

This is a big-time catcher move. Rather than drawing the throwing hand as far back as possible, a snap from behind the ear gets the ball quicker to 1B.  - 1 step

Straight line over loopy throw–we’ll take it any day.  -1 step

Without flicking a look at the runner, he takes away another step.   -1 step

Advocacy to master all 8 steps is not intended (but it would be great); sometimes a fielder just has to take one step at a time to remove a runner.

So there you have it – an alternate world where fielders are efficient, we play in a beautiful softball complex, and JR is forever with us.

February 9, 2024


In memoriam of James Robert Cavanaugh

You were always one of us – we miss you already man.