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Carl's Corner: The Unsung Courtesy Runner

Dec. 1, 2012 – Carl Gustafson CA Regional Tri-Director (San Diego)

The 102-degree heat at a three-day tournament in Texas certainly takes a lot out of softball players. And when youíre out there trying to come through the loserís bracket in that heat, factor in the humidity.

When you consider many seniors have clogged arteries and parts that donít work, this scenario isnít what the doctor ordered.

I played outfield in that tournament which means I could still run fast. It also meant that during our nine games, I went to my outfield post and then back, a combined 100 times or nearly 5 miles.

In addition, I was chosen to be a courtesy runner. The rule was implemented to help those unfortunate players who, due to injury, disease, surgery, or some chronic debilitation, could still swing a bat, but could no longer run without extreme difficulty or pain. But it soon expanded to become a strategic ploy in every game where fast runners replace pretty much anyone slower than they are.

This strategy also means that the fastest runners will be used as often as possible. Translated: I ran either for myself or somebody else virtually every inning of every game.

I lost 11 pounds in three days and ached for a week. My batting average and power were reduced game by game as I tired. When some of those for whom I was running returned to their shade in the dugout to brag about their liner that tore the shortstopís glove off, and then complained about me dragging a little grounder through the hole, I committed myself to be courteous to the courtesy runner should the role ever be reversed.

Later I had Plantar Fasciitis for a whole year, and as I watched my courtesy runners pounding their arches into the turf for me, I realized what an idiot I had been for a decade.

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