It occurred to me while watching the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians with my grandchildren – their first World Series – that I wasn’t doing a very good job of explaining the game of baseball to them because we were all too busy watching the historical action while eating bad food and there was too much to learn in too short of a timespan.
I decided these kids needed to take a course called “Baseball 101” before their second World Series in a year and it was my duty, as a 70-year-old retired sportswriter, to author it for them.
Thus was born the idea of a kiddie book about baseball, a work in progress. In my first part of this series, we covered Chapters 1 and 2. Here, we jump into Chapter 3.
Chapter 3: Positions
Since there are nine players on each team, there are nine positions when it’s your team’s turn to go out in the field to play defense and try to stop the other team from hitting and scoring. They are:
This is the player who tries to throw the ball over the plate for you to try to hit.
Plays behind the plate wearing a chest protector and face mask (because of foul tips) and throws the ball back to the pitcher. Often says things like “Hey! Batta, Batta, Batta!” when he wants you to swing at a bad pitch not over the plate. If you answer “Catcha, Catcha, Catcha!” he might stop doing it.
3. First Baseman
Guards and protects First Base, usually somebody tall to catch high throws from third base.
4. Second Baseman
Guards second base and turns double plays. Has the shortest throw to first and doesn’t need the strongest arm.
5. Short Stop
Plays deep between Second and Third, the spot that gets the most ground balls and is often the best athlete on the team because of the territory he/she has to cover and the long throw to first.
6. Third Baseman
Has to have the best arm in the infield because of the long throw to first and quick fielding hands because Third is called “The Hot Corner.”
7. Left Fielder
All three outfielders need good arms because of the long throws and lots of speed to chase down fly balls and line drives.
8. Centre Fielder
Should be the fastest outfielder because he has the most ground to cover and should have the best arm because of the long throws to home.
9. Right Fielder
Usually the slowest outfielder, but still needs to be quick to cover his area and a good arm because he has the longest throw to third base.
This is where the other pitchers hang out and warm up if the starting pitcher gives up too many hits and has to be relieved.
Usually about 10 more players waiting to get into the game if the manager needs them. They’re all really good at mouth-shelling sunflower seeds and spitting out the husks. This is considered cool, because they used to chew tobacco and drip-spit like drooling horses eating alfalfa cookies, which was very uncool and kind of gross.
Some even chew bubble gum nowadays and blow bubbles like kids to remind themselves they’ve all become millionaires playing a kids game. That’s called talent… or good luck.