Vintage photos of baseball and softball in N.J.
Those of you who are left handed might feel somewhat slighted in everyday life. Lefties, who make up 10 percent of the population, notice the right-handedness of the world in subtle ways. Some of the “majority rules” concepts are reasonable, like doorknobs; but others, like scissors designed specifically for right-hand use, are not.
Growing up, some folks may not be aware of another hurdle lefties faced — right field dead.
If you played stick ball in your childhood or didn’t play sandlot ball, you have no idea what that means. Since the majority of people are right handed, so were the players in neighborhood baseball/softball games (in my neighborhood, for example, there were 30 kids who would play at any given time, only one of whom was a lefty). Most kids weren’t good enough to “hit to all fields” and were pull hitters.
On days when there weren’t quite enough kids to field a full squad, even after resorting to “own pitcher” and “batting team supplied the catcher,” the ruling would be made that was the bane of all lefties: “Right field dead!”
Meaning no one had to play right field … and meaning that any ball hit to right field didn’t count. Meaning left-handers had to learn to hit the ball “the other way” or get called out when everyone got tired of running down their hits to the “dead” field.
In my neighborhood, it was exacerbated; there was a lumberyard with a barbed-wire fence bordering right field. The left-handed kid also had to climb the fence to retrieve the balls he hit in there. So Rusty, on behalf of all of us, this is my apology to you, and to your mom, who had to stitch up all those ripped jeans from climbing over that fence.
Here’s a gallery of baseball and softball in New Jersey in which right field was NOT dead. And here are links to other galleries you might enjoy.