The Fielder's Glove

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic

It was February 16th, a cold but sunny day. We’d had heavy snow the day before, and now the cloudless sky had that deep sheen of sapphire blue, the kind of blue you wished you could siphon into a can to paint your house.

I stared at the Rawlings fielder’s glove in the window of Coleman’s sporting goods, its intricate webbing partially absorbed by my reflection in the glass. The price tag showed $27. That was a lot of money when you’re 11 years old. However, it was 3 days before my frigid February birthday, and playing little league baseball was on my mind.

I knew what I wanted. 

Sure, I had a glove given to me by my older brother, who got it from my other older brother, and so it went. But it was more of a catcher’s mitt really, and I was not a catcher. So I told my Dad what I wanted as a birthday gift.

“How much is it?” he asked, then seemed to scoff when I told him. “You need new boots, winter isn’t over yet.” I sighed.

And that was that.

We weren’t poor, but were pretty far from rich. In a family of 8 kids, frugality was the word of the day, which meant I was getting new boots - not a fielder’s glove.

“OK,” I said, and shuffled away without another word.

I went outside and started throwing snowballs at the telephone pole next to our house. After a few minutes, I sat on the hood of my Dad’s car, staring down at the snow.

He soon came outside. “Hey, you can’t play baseball with frostbitten feet,” Dad chided, “you get the difference between needs and wants right?

“Yes,” I said, “but I also know I need to play better as a right fielder if our team has a chance to win, which I want.”

I went on. “Spring is a month away, and I’ve been making do with these boots, I mean, my feet are still there!” I chuckled.

“I just wear another layer of socks, who needs insulation anyway?”

Dad just stared at me, he wasn’t convinced. Yet.

I got serious again. “And don’t you always say, you can’t do the job right without the right tools?”

Dad smiled then. “I do,” he said.

He started to walk back toward the house, then turned back to me, smiling. “Don’t stay out too long.”, he said before going back inside. 

I woke up on my birthday to find a gift box at the end of my bed. The rich leather smell hit me hard as I opened the box, and stared down at that brand new Rawlings fielder’s glove. The Coleman’s label was still on it, but the price tag wasn’t.

I laughed.

I broke that glove in as soon as I could hold a baseball without getting frostbitten fingers. When little league started, I was ready.

And that June, we made the playoffs.

We got all the way to the Major Division championship. In the best of five, we were tied 2-2, and playing the final game that would determine who would win it all.

Up by a run in the 9th, we were on defense, trying to get the final out that would give us the title.

With two on, the left-handed batter hit a fastball square across the meat of his bat, sending the ball screaming over our outstretched shortstop. It was coming my way.

I ran across its trajectory, anticipating the catch – and the win!

I raised my brand new Rawlings fielder’s glove to the summer sky, reaching to align the webbing with the fast approaching ball.

And missed. The two men on scored, game over.

We rode home in silence, the radio in our coach’s van playing a sad sappy love song, how appropriate.

So even though I had the right tool, I did the job wrong.

I never played little league again. No, not because of losing that game, but because I got into junior high the next fall.

That was where I noticed girls. Who needs baseball?

Submitted: November 22, 2022

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