I had always played right field, except for the year. Right field was reserved for the worst player on the team, because it was junior little league (whatever they called it when there was still a machine on the pitcher’s mound instead of a player), and so hardly anyone ever hit the ball into the outfield. When a ball did make it into the outfield, it was usually an extra-base hit, if not an inside-the-field home run, because the lousy players who had be exiled to the outfield couldn’t throw, and so we stopped the ball and tossed it as far as we could and someone from the infield had to meet us halfway.
There wasn’t really any out-of-the-park home run, since the field just kept going farther than even the biggest jocks could hit it, except for the rushes that were barely in fair territory not too far from first base. The rushes were actually a boon for us, because a ball that went into the rushes was proclaimed a ground rule double.
One year, though, I played center field because there was actually someone on the team worse than I was. He was enough worse than me, in fact, that there really wasn’t that much controversy over who should be next to the rushes.
For context: I was truly awful. As a batter, I made serious contact with the ball once. The ball bounced to the shortstop. I know because I watched it, standing, frozen and awestruck, as somewhere in the back of my mind I heard my manager, my teammates, and half the stands first telling me to run, then hurling insults in an attempt to stun me out of my dumbness. I dropped the bat and started running towards first base, but I wasn’t even out of the batter’s box before I was declared out. The manager told me I would have been out regardless, my parents said something to make me feel better, and my teammates acted like I was a special ed student.
Which, in a way, I was, but that’s a separate story.
There was a player that was worse than me, though. He didn’t always play; I didn’t always play. When we played at the same time, though, I was in center field because he was worse than me.
One time, a ball got hit into right field, bounced a few times, and hit him on the shin. It was barely moving at that point, and had he picked it up and lobbed it in the general direction of second base, he might have prevented a double. Probably not, but it would have been worth the effort.
Instead, he scanned the crowd, made eye contact with his father, and started bawling, grabbing his shin and falling to the ground. Time was called, his father came to check him out, there was much worrying and carrying on, he was pulled out, and another, better player was put in to replace him.
And I went back to right field for the rest of the game.
— ptkh, 6.18.10