The Right Fielder
The right field, when properly played, is the most difficult of the out-
field positions. A ball hit in that direction by a right-handed hitter
always describes a curve and is therefore very hard to judge. A good
right fielder should also throw out many men at first base during a
season, and this means that he must possess all the qualifications of an
in-fielder. A few years ago it was not an unusual thing to see a batsman
thrown out at first on a hit into right field. One of the best fielders
for this was George Shaffer, who for several seasons played with the
Cleveland Club. Another good man was Jake Evans, of the Troy Club, and
when with the Providence Club, Dorgan seldom let a game go by without
catching one or more men in this way.
Of late this is not done so often, for the reason that the right fielder
plays a much deeper field now than he did a few years ago. Then, when
the curve was still a novelty, there were very few hard hits made to
right field by right-handed batters. Still, even now, there are many
batters for whom there is no reason to play a deep right field, and such
a batter should often be thrown out at first. Yet the only player whom I
have seen make the play this season was Brown, of Boston, who threw out
Titcomb twice in one game on the Polo Ground.
All that has been said about the other out-fielders as to judging a hit,
starting, running, and catching, may be said of the right fielder.
Equally with them he must locate a hit instantly, start quickly, run
speedily, and be able to catch the ball in whatever form he may reach
it. In judging a hit the fielder always takes into consideration the
force and direction of the wind--with the effect of which he has become
familiar in the preliminary practice--and the curve which the ball is
likely to take if hit by a right-hand batter.
In fielding ground-hits he meets the ball quickly, and, where possible
to catch the batter at first, he throws there on the fly. The reason for
throwing so in this instance is, that if he is near enough to catch the
man at all, he is near enough to throw accurately on the fly. But to
third base or home he should always throw on the bound.
He should back up first base on all throws from the catcher. He also
should assist the centre fielder in backing up second base, and to this
end run back of the centre fielder when the latter goes in to meet the
ball; so that if it passes one, the other will still be there to stop
it. He should also back up the centre fielder on all ground-hits to the
latter, and on all fly hits to him he should go near so as to quickly
recover the ball if it be missed.
He should call for the ball the moment he has decided to take it, and
as between an out-fielder and an in-fielder the former will take any hit
he can reach. He is running in for the ball and has it before him all
the time, while the in-fielder, running out, is apt to get twisted up
and in bad shape to make the catch.
Out-fielders, like in-fielders, must change position to correspond with
the direction the batsman is likely to hit. For instance, there are some
men who are never known to hit to right field, and for such the entire
out-field moves toward the left field, the right fielder going almost to
centre, the centre fielder to left centre, and the left fielder close to
the foul-line. When the fielder knows the batsman, he will change
without direction; but in any case he should respond quickly to any
signal from the pitcher, because the latter may be going to force the
batter to hit in a particular direction. The best fielders make the
greatest difference in the positions they play for different batsmen.
The right fielder must be on the look-out for the catcher's signal to
throw to first or second base, because, in order that he may get in line
with the throw, it is necessary that he shall start when the pitcher
begins to deliver. He cannot wait until the catcher throws or he will be
too late to get in line.
Next: The Batter
Previous: The Centre Fielder