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Nice Catch
2008-05-22 09:06
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

The first mitt I remember owning was given to me by my father as a birthday gift. It was a letdown. There was no fingers inside, just a mushy place to put your hand, a strange feature that my father thought was clever. I didn't agree. He bought himself a glove at the same time that was a traditional glove (a Joe Morgan autograph version). At the time, I wished I had had his glove and felt somehow as if he was telling me that I wasn't ready for a regular mitt yet.

I don't know how long I had that mitt, but through high school it seemed as if I lost a mitt each season. Which wasn't the worst thing because I so thoroughly enjoyed the process of breaking a glove in--oiling it, bending it back and forth, throwing a ball into the web over and over, and then tying up the mitt with a ball in the center at night and putting it under my pillow.

During my second year of high school, my coach gave me his old Wilson A2000, which had been lovingly broken in and used for years. I lost that one too, leaving it behind on the field at an away game. I don't recall having my own mitt after that, although there were always a couple around the house. Then, about ten years ago, I bought a new one even though my baseball activities had been reduced to the occasional catch. It is a Nokona 12" second baseman's glove, a swell mitt, one that was desinged and suited for baseball and really too small for softball.

I got to thinking about the glove after reading Steve Lombardi's wonderful post featuring some of his mitts--he's owns seven!

Anyone got any good glove stories? And, do you call it a mitt or a glove?

Comments
2008-05-22 09:43:01
1.   weeping for brunnhilde
I call it both, pretty randomly, I think.

I remember getting a new mitt in fourth grade and sitting on it all through the school day. And all the wrapping up under the pillow thing and the throwing the ball into the pocket over and over.

And the saddle soap.

I did love that whole process.

These days they come pretty much broken in already, which is kind of sad.

2008-05-22 09:43:08
2.   mehmattski
My first glove was a Roy Pettis outfielder's glove... jet black, with plenty of room for the ball to get stuck in when I tried to make a play. I don't remember much about little league, I think I played a lot of right field and therefore never saw much action. Anyway, what I do remember was playing in my league's All-Star game. I had gone 2 for 10 over the entire season, with probably 30 walks- I was very short and patient, you see. I was in the All-Star game, they said, because I played great defense, but I think mostly cause my team was terrible.

I finally get into the game and I'm warming up in right field, tossing back and forth and all of a sudden the ball is behind me. It had gone through my glove and was rolling up the foul line. I was thoroughly embarrassed. Luckily, my dad had brought his glove to the game that day, and I got to play with it.

My dad's glove fits the description of one of Steve's... perfectly broken in so it feels like an extension of your own hand. It was a pitchers' glove, a Mickey Lolich signature, that my dad bought in the 1960s. I love it, and I basically inherited it that day. No other glove has ever come close- I bought one for softball a few years ago and I can never get it truly broken in. I guess they don't make them like they used to...

Oh, and it's glove, not mitt. Except for the first baseman and the catcher, they're allowed to have mitts.

2008-05-22 09:46:07
3.   JL25and3
1 Saddle soap? We always used neatsfoot oil.
2008-05-22 09:56:33
4.   unmoderated
withmy family being in the used books / antiques / collectibles business, most of my old mitts were old mitts. same for bats. i was a catcher / first basemen in my later little league years, and i remember having a johnny mize model and an earl battey model. my first little league bat was a gen-u-ine hank aaron. i was the only kid on in the league with a wooden bat, and wouldn't you know, i splintered it to bits early into the year's first PRESEASON game. what a letdown.
2008-05-22 09:56:36
5.   standuptriple
I had a couple gloves, but one that stood out was a red Darryl Strawberry Rawlings that ushered me into the 90' basepath era. When I became a catcher full-time I had little use for it, but eventually passed it along to a less-fortunate friend who made good use of it through high school ball.
Just last week a guy on my softball team asked if I had a good catcher's mitt. Hell yeah I do. He said that his kids league doesn't have any good ones because they take so long to break-in. There is no way I'm ever getting rid of that mitt though. Too many fond memories.
3 I liked using mink oil.
2008-05-22 09:57:39
6.   unmoderated
sadly, i never got to break a glove in. i understand it is the best part.
2008-05-22 10:00:39
7.   Ken Arneson
As for the terminology, to me, a glove has fingers, and a mitt does not. So there are first-baseman's mitts and catcher's mitts, and all the others are gloves.

As a kid, I played with a Gene Tenace-model first baseman's mitt.

2008-05-22 10:22:05
8.   joe in boston
Great post. My first glove was a Whitey Ford model. Funny because it was a righty glove ! Must have been a factory second or a recall. Who knows (it was 1966).

My dad was very poor, grew up in Schenectady, NY in the 30s/early 40s. He was a lefty, and his family was too poor to buy a lefty glove ... so he learned how to throw righty (while borrowing his friends' gloves). I was so amazed as a kid playing catch when he would snap off pitches with either hand. Love ya dad !

2008-05-22 10:25:20
9.   tommyl
I still use my Louisville Slugger, Orel Hershiser glove that I had in little league. Best damn glove I've ever put my hand into and broken in just perfectly. Sadly, the last time I had a catch and tried to pitch I was reminded of why I stopped. Shooting pain from the elbow to the wrist is never a good feeling. My slider still darts though, even if its probably going 65 mph. Man, I'm old and I'm not even 30 yet.
2008-05-22 10:35:53
10.   Yankee Fan In Boston
i remember the day i was given my first glove. i was about 5 years old. my dad took me out into the backyard and started throwing me a tennis ball.

i was terrible. i know that it was a new glove and everything, but i couldn't track a pop up or even the little soft tosses he was giving me. my dad must have been out there with me for an hour or two throwing his son the ball just to watch him have to scurry around the yard to pick it up.

toss after toss after toss after toss.

it got to the point that i gave up. i was just standing there with my glove out, barely paying attention, frustrated.

"don't quit. reggie wouldn't quit. he'd want to work at it. you can do it."

i wasn't having it. i was just standing there. i remember being so frustrated that i pulled my cap down over my eyes, letting out a groan. just then, i feel something hit my glove.

dad lobbed one right into webbing, god bless him. he'd probably been trying to do that for 45 minutes.

of course, now i thought i was ozzie smith or something. i was all excited asking for more.

he decided we should end things there for the day. "you look tired," he tells me. he looked exhausted.

2008-05-22 11:33:24
11.   Shaun P
My first glove was a Mookie Wilson model. It long and thin, lots of room in the pocket. Fit my hand and its long, thin fingers like, well, a glove.

When I outgrew that, I bought the biggest, longest, thinnest glove I could find. It was a Ken Griffey Jr. model. The Kid killed the Yanks. I really didn't like him - but its a damn fine glove, that I still use to this day.

I bought my little girl her first glove about a month ago, though she calls it a mitt (the "gl" sound is still a bit hard for her). There we were in the store. I'm trying to see if they even make gloves for 2 year olds, and she grabs my arm and excitedly shouts, "Daddy! A Dora mitt!" Dora as in Dora the Explorer. It even came with a cute little soft ball. So far we've only used it twice, but the first time she "caught" the ball I lobbed in there, her smile went from ear to ear.

2008-05-22 12:37:58
12.   thelarmis
what a great idea for a post, alex!

i agree w/ mehmattski: "Oh, and it's glove, not mitt. Except for the first baseman and the catcher, they're allowed to have mitts."

i loved my pop's Wilson Richie Zisk glove. when i go and visit home in NY, i always put it on. it seems small to me now.

i don't remember the first glove that i personally owned, but my main glove since high school, like standuptriple in 5 , was the red Darryl Strawberry Rawlings glove. i still have it. in fact, i just went into the bottom of my closet and took it out. ball in web and i just popped a few throws in it. nice!

i didn't like the Muts or the color red, but it's a great glove. still is!

11 Mookie was my favorite player as a kid. still is, kinda. even though i was always a Yanks fan, i loved Mook and had the Strawberry glove...

2008-05-22 13:43:01
13.   shawn me
My first glove, was my brother's glove.
He painstakenly broke it in and once it was just right, "perfect" he would say, someone stole it as a baseball game. My brother was crushed, no other glove he got after that compared to it.
5 years later, I was walking across a baseball field and fould my brother's glove abandoned. Luckly for me, my bother had wrote our last name in indelible ink on the glove (we have a extreamly rare name). I started to use it every base ball game. I played with it for the next ten years.
My brother came home from college & was astounded that the glove came back to us.
A few years ago I gave it to niece when she started to play baseball.
2008-05-22 15:01:16
14.   BronxToCT
In high school, my Dad bought me a glove (not a mitt) to replace a starter glove that I had for years and outgrown. The new glove -- a Johnny Callison model -- seemed enormous and unwieldy, and needed lots of neatsfoot oil and string to tame. It was stolen once from my school locker, and the only reason I got it back was because I spotted it in the thief's locker the next day. I used this glove through college and beyond (I'm 54 now), and just the other day I used it to play catch with my 12-year-old daughter who was using a lacross stick!
2008-05-23 07:21:22
15.   Murray
First glove I remember was a small leather Regent glove that was bought used for me at the big flea market at Aqueduct. I loved it, but it was too small to catch a softball. I was no older than six when I got it, I think, and it was already broken in.

The next, which my parents purchased new when I was eight, was a Rawlings Dave Concepcion autograph model with an "EDGE-U-CATED HEEL." I could catch a sottball with this one, although when I put it on now, I'm not sure how that was possible; it's not like I have Rachmaninoff's hands or anything, but my palm now sticks out the bottom of the heel. I used glove oil and shaving cream (just like Bucky Dent taught us on "The Baseball Bunch") to break it in and I think I got it just right, a perfect fold from the thumb across the palm and up through the middle of the webbing. I still have this glove, and assuming she's right-handed, it will become my daughter's when she's born later this summer.

The next important glove I had was second-hand, a red Frank Robinson autograph model MacGregor with a very thin pocket. (My secondary glove from that era was a very 1950s style Stan Musial model glove with an even thinner pocket that I returned to my uncle when his first son was born in the mid 1980s). It was great for catching a softball, but the harball stung like hell. I wrecked that glove, eventually having to replace some of the leather stitching with twine to hold the fingers together.

The current weapon of choice is a dark brown Mizuno brown leather softball glove that I bought on sale for $20 in 1988. It was broken in out from the minute it left the factory, and I've never had to do more than play with it to make it feel broken in. It is a huge glove, almost as big as the one Luis Polonia used, and is best suited to outfield play. It still works like a charm but I haven't used it in almost five years. I'm looking forward to getting some mileage out of it soon.

When's the last time you brought your glove to a big league game??

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