With the resumption of the baseball season following the all-star break — the first games of the second half were Thursday night — I’ve decided to include a special addition with each blog post throughout the remainder of the Mariners’ drive to the World Series.
Just kidding, of course — I mean about Seattle’s Series hopes, not the bonus feature.
As some of you have learned, I collect old baseball gloves. It’s a hobby that started in earnest about 20 years ago with the purchase — at a long-gone Albany second-hand shop called Instant Replay Sports — of an Albie Pearson model Wilson glove from the mid 1960s.
At the time, I owned exactly four gloves: the Wilson A2000 I had gotten for myself prior to my forgettable 1980 season as Rex Putnam; two ancient specimens that had belonged to my dad, a Billy Martin glove made by Wilson and a Joe DiMaggio model manufactured by Spalding; and the Wilson-brand Bill Freehan catcher’s mitt I had gotten for my 11th birthday.
But for around $10, even though I didn’t need it, I bought the 30-year-old Pearson glove and the rest, as folks like to say, is history. From that point on, I trolled all manner of marketplaces that might carry used sporting goods and set about accumulating an arsenal of vintage leather — probably about 90 of the gloves were made between 1925 and 1965 — that now numbers about 115.
What do I do with them? Well, I use them to play catch and also sometimes to play in actual games, and I also tend just to put one or another of them on my hand while I am watching TV.
Where do I keep them? All over the place, including in my truck and in desk drawers at work. I’m always ready to throw and catch.
And why exactly does someone, anyone, need 8 or 9 dozen ball gloves? He doesn’t, really, but I’ve just always loved baseball, and baseball history, and I love the visceral feeling I get from pulling on an ancient mitt.
Plus, American craftsmen made these things, and it provides me with pleasure to give those gloves a home where they are appreciated and cared for; if lacing, webbing, etc. needs repair, I fix it.
Anyway, that bonus blog feature I mentioned — we can call it Catch of the Day, perhaps? — is to include front and back photographs of one glove in each post, regardless of what else I may have written about, from now until either the season or the gloves run out, whichever comes first of course.
So to begin, here’s one of those that belonged to my dad, who were he still alive would’ve turned 91 on Tuesday: