Baseball and glove
Image by gwilmore
“It measures just 9 inches in circumference, weighs only about 5 ounces, and is made of cork wound with woolen yarn, covered with two layers of cowhide, and stitched by hand precisely 216 times.
“It travels 60 feet 6 inches from the pitcher’s mound to home — and it can cover that distance at nearly 100 miles an hour. Along the way it can be made to twist, spin, curve, wobble, rise, or fall away.
“The bat is made of turned ash, less than 42 inches long, not more than 2-½ inches in diameter. The batter has only a few thousandths of a second to decide to hit the ball. And yet the men who fail seven times out of ten are considered the game’s greatest heroes.
“Baseball is played everywhere: in parks and playgrounds and prison yards, in back alleys and farmer’s fields, by small children and old men, by raw amateurs and millionaire professionals.
“It is a leisurely game that demands blinding speed, and the only one in which the defense has the ball. It follows the seasons, beginning each year with the fond expectancy of springtime and ending with the hard facts of autumn.
“Americans have played baseball for more than 200 years, while they conquered a continent, warred with one another and with enemies abroad, struggled over labor and civil rights and the meaning of freedom.
“At the game’s heart lie mythic contradictions: a pastoral game, born in crowded cities; an exhilarating democratic sport that tolerates cheating and has excluded as many as it has included; a profoundly conservative game that somehow manages to be years ahead of its time.
“It is an American odyssey that links sons and daughters to fathers and grandfathers. And it reflects a host of age-old American traditions: between workers and owners, scandal and reform, the individual and the collective.
“It is a haunted game in which every player is measured against the ghosts of all who have gone before. Most of all, it is about time and timelessness, speed and grace, failure and loss, imperishable hope — and coming home.”
— Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns, Baseball: An Illustrated History (1994)
I purchased this baseball glove in 1989, the year my son Colin was born. When he was growing up, I spent countless hours playing ball with him, many of them in a large meadow a short distance down the road from our home in Ohio. (We called that place the Elysian Fields.) The glove has also accompanied me to many baseball games over the years, in all of which I have been a spectator rather than a participant, because between a bad eye and a lack of coordination, I simply can’t play the game. But that didn’t stop me from being a fan.
The ball is one my son caught when it was hit into the stands during a rookie-league game in Zanesville, Ohio sometime in the mid-1990s. It was signed by a few members of the local team, the Zanesville Grays, which has since been disbanded.
I have not followed baseball much in recent years, owing to a considerable amount of personal hardship which has distracted much of my attention, coupled with a sense of revulsion at such developments as the steroid scandal, the ridiculous and still-skyrocketing players’ salaries, and the changes, such as interleague play and the extra round of playoffs, which the powers-that-be have imposed on a game so deeply rooted in tradition. But in spite of all that, I know that my enthusiasm for the game is still there somewhere, waiting just below the surface for someone or something to come along and revive it.
The glove, unfortunately, has seen little use for some time, partly because Colin is no longer living with us, and partly because I have developed arthritis in my hands — especially in my left, or glove, hand. But I will always hang on to it, as it has great sentimental value for me, and I will always associate it with good experiences, as well as a host of cherished memories.
For this colorful backdrop, I used one of my two Mexican blankets.
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