For a hard-core baseball guy like Tom Dolan, it was the ultimate compliment to bestow upon a player.
“He’s old school baseball,” the Bordentown Post 26 manager said of Chris Wade.
Coming from an old school skipper, it gets no better than that.
“He just can’t wait to get on the field,” Dolan continued. “He’s prepared to play anywhere.”
He darn well had to be last summer, as Wade needed a GPS to figure out where he would go next with a glove on his hand.
“Last year they put me at first, third, short, second, all over the outfield,” Wade said. “It was crazy.”
But the Bordentown High rising senior had no problem with it.
“He plays anywhere I need him,” Dolan said. “He’s playing third base for us now, he played short for Bordentown, he can play the whole infield. He’s an all-around utility guy and good at every position. I really like him at third. He probably hasn’t played there since little league, but I’ll ask him and he says ‘Yeah coach I played third before.’ He just wants to get out there.”
Wade has been a member of the Scotties and Post 26 for the past three years, and a fixture in both lineups the last two. As a freshman, he went 1-for-3 with BRHS and pitched 3.1 forgettable innings. He made the legion team that summer and only pitched in one game for then-manager Doug Moore, but picked up a valuable lesson.
“I was able to learn the culture that we have here; and the mentality we all bring to this team,” he said.
The following spring, Wade played his natural position of shortstop for the high school team and hit .400 with five doubles, a triple and 15 RBI. Then came his summer of rotating positions with Post 26, which was managed off-and-on by Moore and Dolan due to Moore’s health issues. It did not affect Wade’s bat, as he hit in the mid-300’s.
His junior year with Bordentown saw his average dip to .342; but his power surged as he hit two home runs and 11 doubles while driving in 26 runs.
“I never thought of myself as a power hitter,” he said. “I used to be a more up-the-middle type hitter, gap to gap. This year I was actually able to put two over the fence. I guess it correlates with the work I put in the gym.”
This summer, Wade has returned home to the left side of the infield and played mostly at third base during the 26ers’ 6-2 start.
“He’s good at every position,” Dolan said. “He played a tremendous shortstop for Bordentown this year but (Alex) Popovich is a 19-year-old back from Northern (Burlington). Pop’s my starting shortstop. Chris plays a tremendous third, he played second last year and when Cody (Schroeder) was healthy we moved him over to first to keep his bat in the lineup.
“He’s athletic, he’s a nice sized kid. He surprises you. He’s got a cannon for an arm so he’s probably better off for us on the left side.”
Wade said he prefers the left side, and now that his position seems solidified, he has pretty much limited his defensive drills to that part of the infield.
“The angle is different at third so I have to work on that a little and get used to that,” he said. “I don’t practice on the right side anymore. I’m just hoping if they put me there I’m able to bring it back into my mind from last year.”
Offensively, Wade bats fifth or sixth in the lineup, and is tough to defend.
“He’s aggressive, he hits gap to gap,” Dolan said. “When he’s really on is when he goes to the right side with the outside pitches to right field. He’s very successful at that. He’s a team player. With a runner on second he’ll hit the ball to the right side. He’ll always try to advance the runner.”
Wade got off to a somewhat slow start offensively this summer, but felt he was still swinging the bat well.
“I’ve been getting on base, drawing walks, reaching on errors, getting robbed a lot,” Wade said. “They’re just not falling but I’m not too concerned.”
Wade began playing baseball in the backyard at age 3 and started playing organized ball when he was 7. He played in Bordentown Little League and travel ball, and estimates the nucleus of this year’s legion team—consisting mostly of Bordentown and Northern Burlington players—has been together for 10 years.
“Both high school teams had a pretty good run,” he said. “With the combined people we have on both teams we practically make a combined all-star team.”
A team that he helps guide along.
“He’s definitely one of our leaders,” Dolan said. “He’s a quiet kid but he gets people going and leads by example.”
Baseball is the only sport Wade plays, although he feels he could succeed at others if he gave them a shot.
“I like to think I’m pretty athletic in other sports,” he said. “I’m an athlete, I guess I can compete if I wanted to.”
Asked what he excels at, Wade smiled and said, “I’m pretty good at ping pong.”
That’s too individualistic of a sport for him, however.
When the question was posed about what his personal goals were for this season, his answer went right past “me” to “we.”
“I hope we make top three for the league so we can pick where we’re going for districts,” he said. “I hope we win out districts, win out states, and just keep running until we get to hopefully the World Series.”
Now, about those individual goals.
“I don’t think I really have any,” Wade said. “It’s more a team-type goal we have.”
Gotta love old school.