Love For The Glove

Love For The Glove

This week the baseball beat writers for the Chicago Tribune (Colleen Kane & Mark Gonzales), did an excellent story about various Chicago Cubs and White Sox and their baseball gloves.

Some guys were elaborate about breaking the gloves in, how many they have, when they use them (practice and in game gloves aka “gamers”), and even how they store them.

I thought I’d do a personal piece of baseball gloves (and the game of baseball), for I love them too.

Pictured are my two personal gloves and the new glove I just bought for my two year old son.

The larger, darker first basemen’s glove is one of my most prized possessions.

It was my late father’s glove, it goes with me to every game (I've yet to catch anything), and sometimes I just keep it in the front seat of my SUV to have a piece of dad with me.

So when I was 12 years old or so, my dad and I went to the old Toys R Us on 87th & the Dan Ryan and got baseball gloves. He bought the aforementioned glove I absolutely love and I got a smaller glove that I still have but too small for me and too big for my son.

So we used to play catch at the old house on 123rd Street in West Pullman and I used to practice pitching with a good friend (Kareem), down the block on Morgan Street.

There were also some good baseball games we played behind the old “tot lot” on 125th Street.

We were a baseball ‘hood.

But see my dad wanted me to be able to catch really well so as he called it, “he threw at me”, I know sounds mean and yeah it hurts when you miss.

We’d stand on the side of the house and I’d be in front of the chain link fence and you could tell when I missed because the ball either hit me or clanged on the fence.

But you get better real quick (or end up sore), and to this day I can catch things off the counter and have really good reflexes.

At first I hated it, it was not fun, he used a real “league” ball (not a nerf or practice ball),  as we called it on 123rd Street. And it made me a better defender.

But over time I got better and relished diving for balls and making good defensive plays, I’d be damn if a ball got passed me.

Plus its playing catch with the old man, few things are better than that. I’ve started playing ball with my son and it’s just special.

I got to Brother Rice High School and I was the freshman equipment manager and as I’ve mentioned before my love for the game of baseball really solidified there with a great team, awesome teammates, excellent coaches (Jim Antos, Jack Carlson & Joe Krajacic), and I learned how equipment is sacred.

I had a rolling laundry cart of equipment, practice balls, fungo bats (long bats for hitting in practice), extra bats and gloves, catchers equipment (tools of the ignorant), and so much more. I took pride in that and the guys on the team did too.

Once I was at Rice my dad gave me his glove which I had idolized since the day he bought it and I’ve babied that thing for over 25 years.

In baseball there is a lot of “clowning around” you have some down time and it’s a lot of fun and there are jokes but there’s a clear and unwritten rule that a guy’s equipment is sacred. You simply don’t mess with it.

The catcher’s glove I have I recently bought off of eBay, got a nice deal on it and it fits just right and yeah bought the first glove for my son, can’t wait for him to use it.

But in the words of the longtime Sox broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, the first rule of baseball is to catch the ball and that all starts with your glove.

 

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    Charles W. Johnson

    I'm a lifelong writer (since I was 8 years old), and have been doing this blog in some form or fashion since 2004. I'm a DePaul University alum, class of 1999 and prior to that Brother Rice class of 1994. . And I appreciate you taking to the time to read what I have to say, feel free to email charles.w.johnson@hotmail.com

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