Friday, June 17, 2011

Goodbye to a 50-year-old glove

I buried my old baseball glove yesterday, not in some sacred spot under home plate or beneath the dugout but in the kitchen trash. After 50 years, it was time to let it go, so I dumped it unceremoniously and without remorse. I no longer have any use for this artifact of my youth.

I've been trying to remember if I had another baseball glove before that one, and I suppose I must have, but it is not memorable, perhaps a hand-me-down from one of my older brothers or a cheap faux-leather toy, not a tool in the sports equipment bag like the glove I got when I was 10 or 12 years old.

As best I remember, it came as a Christmas present, in the dead of winter far removed from hot summer days of baseball season. It was by far the best sports equipment I'd ever claimed as my own, though its now-forgotten generic brand name fell far shy of my brother's professional-level Rawlings glove made of leather as soft as a pillow and fingers as long as my foot. I can still remember that my brother's glove cost an astounding $18, about a day's wages for either of my parents at the time. My glove must have cost about half that or less.

The glove got plenty of use in those ephemeral days when every boy in my class would bring his baseball glove to school, and we'd choose sides and play ball at morning recess and afternoon recess (yes, twice a day). I also used it in the organized play of church-league games and in the back yard as my athletic brother tried in vain to salvage me from my klutziness. My glove stood out on the playground because it was black, as black as a man's dress shoes — a color almost unheard of in baseball gloves then — and in those clearly not-politically correct days, I took some ribbing about the racial origins of my baseball glove. I oiled it and flexed it and wrapped it tightly around a baseball to improve its shape. On the left hand of a better athlete, I'm sure it would have been more than adequate for a teenager in the early 1960s, but in my hands it never made it to a high school or American Legion baseball game.

Years later, after I was grown and married, I rescued the glove from a coating of mildew it had developed in a cabinet on my parents' back porch, where it had lain unseen for years. I have a photo of me wearing that glove as I played a game of catch with my son in the back yard of my childhood home. My son was learning to use his first baseball glove more than two decades ago.

I can toss out the old black glove now without regrets. Not one of my five grandsons has shown any interest in baseball, and the game is not the ubiquitous glue that, 50 years ago, taught young boys coordination, athleticism, camaraderie, teamwork and orderliness. It's an artifact as ancient and useless today as the flat, inflexible baseball glove that I remember from early childhood. That glove must have belonged to my dad or one of his brothers. It looked like the fat, awkward glove that Babe Ruth had used in the dark, mythical past. That old glove, which must have been tossed out with the trash when I was my grandsons' age, was not as old then as the black glove I just threw in the trash.

1 comment:

[+] said...

fun play on words; changing "baseball" and "glove" to "Atari" or "Xbox" or "iPad" or ...