Christmas is only eight days away and I couldn’t help think how many little boys and girls would be getting a shiny new baseball glove under the tree this year. I thought back to my first glove and my second glove that I still have to this day and what it meant to break that puppy in and all the effort that went into it.
I can fondly remember my first glove. I had to share it with my brother and it was a Catfish Hunter glove. I remember asking my dad who Catfish Hunter was and hearing him tell me stories of this guy. Having never seen him, I let my seven year-old imagination wonder on what someone named “Catfish” would look like. You can only imagine a seven year-olds imagination! We played with that glove for years in sandlots until finally the lacing could not take another beating and there it went.
My second glove I bought myself from money I had earned working during the summer. I remember being in the store and looking at all the gloves and picking out a shiny black Rawlings Ken Griffey Jr. glove. I was so proud of that thing. I went home and asked my dad how to break it in. My first glove had been used and it pretty much fit everyone because it was so old and broken in. Not the Griffey though, with its brand new leather smell. It was tough and shiny and his name was cleary emblazoned in the palm. Yep, had me a sweet glove.
So like millions of fathers over the ages, pop went out and got me some leather balm and showed me how to work it in. Carefully massaging the leather, I made sure this glove was going to fit perfect. Relentless, I kept putting more and more oil into the glove. It didn’t fit my hand at all and I knew if I worked hard enough it would.
Along came pop and he said to slow down on the oil that I didn’t want to put too much in and it was time to seal it up. Seal it up I asked? We grabbed an old baseball and put it right in that basket and got the rope. Had to leave it tied up over night he told me, to make sure the basket would form around the ball. It’s tough being young and watching your shiny new baseball glove have to sit. You want to take it and punch your fist into it and show everyone you are ready for the next game and surely you won’t drop another pop fly because it had to have been your last glove that was the cause of that.
The next morning I grabbed that glove and put it on. It was big for my hand but it felt a lot better. Impatience got the best of me. I should have worked some more oil in and tied it up again but I wanted to play. Can’t have this shiny new glove lying around and not being able to use it.
I played and played and as college came and jobs and busy life took over the glove was relegated to ballpark foul ball duty only. It has stayed in my trunk ready for action with every car I have had. It has seen better days but it still fits my hand perfect. Poor thing once even smelled like beer for quite awhile. I had put a 12 pack of beer in the trunk on top of the glove and went into the house carrying other groceries. Well, in Colorado when the temperature drops below freezing beer in bottles tends to blow up if left in the cold! And blow up it did, leaving my glove smelling like I had been fielding baseballs soaking in beer. Oh well, it survived and I still use it to this day.
This last season, as I was standing near the dugout watching the Rockies AAA affiliate SkySox warm up, I looked down. Standing there was a little boy about 9 and his sister about 6. They were eagerly awaiting Troy Tulowitzki to come out as he was rehabbing in the Springs. The boy had his silver sharpie and ball and was more than willing to talk about baseball. His sister just sat there smiling like her brother was her hero. She would just repeat what he said and act as if the words were her own. “Yeah we have been to eight games this year,” the little girl said. Her brother just looked over rolling his eyes and whispering to me, “it’s nine.” Oh, I said back. Just then I looked at his glove and there it was. Just like mine years ago he had a brand new shiny Ken Griffey Jr. glove.
I said, “that’s a great glove.” He smiled and said “what is your glove” and I laughed as I held mine out flattened like a pancake and showed him it was also a Ken Griffey Jr. I watched and smiled as that industrious little boy and his sister squirmed between all types of people and held that ball out to get autographed. For me I just sat in my seat and put my old trusty glove on and waited for that foul ball to come. It never did but that glove of mine is going to see a lot of baseball this summer and maybe get a chance to show it can still be a best friend. It’s been there and it deserved it’s own blog and picture for everyone to see!