There aren’t many women, mothers of grown children, who stand in the baseball department of a sporting goods store to pick out gloves for themselves.
But then, I’m not your average grown-up mom.
A college-aged clerk ambled over and said, “Can I help you?”
“I’m looking for a glove. For me,” I said.
His eyes didn’t betray his surprise, but I could read his mind: ”Why would a woman her age want a baseball mitt?”
I was 11 the last time I shopped for a glove. I had signed up for a girls’ baseball league, not to be confused with softball.
My dad helped me pick out my first mitt. The cool, blue Rawlings glove nearly jumped from the shelf and onto my hand. Built for a righty, it looked just my size.
Maybe the mitt fit like a glove because it was a glove. All I know is my hand felt at home within the confines of its soft-grain leather.
I said to myself, “Self, none of the other girls will have a cool, blue mitt.”
To my dad, I said, “This is the one. Can we buy it? Please?”
I couldn’t wait to get home and try out my new glove. When I wasn’t wearing it, it slept under my mattress or beneath a pile of encyclopedias to speed up the breaking-in process.
As soon as I arrived at the field for my first baseball practice, I saw I’d been correct about the glove. No one else showed up with a cool, blue mitt.
Blue glove aside, any thoughts of actually playing in a game dissolved the minute I stepped into the dugout. Though I possessed a fair amount of athleticism, my teammates were tall girls with broad shoulders who had played a game or two or fifty.
At 11, I was one of the youngest to wear a uniform and a scrawny 11 at that. My feet graced the field a little and my derrière warmed the bench a lot.
In between practices and games, I played catch out in our yard with my dad and that made all the difference.
I gave up any illusions of playing competitive baseball and moved on to basketball, tennis, and golf, but my love for my blue baseball mitt stayed true.
I graduated from playing catch with Dad to playing catch with my husband. Well, he had to catch me first.
By the time I started throwing with my son, the supple leather of my cool, now faded blue glove molded to my hand.
To my credit, I wasn’t the one whose errant toss gave Trey a black eye. You’ll have to ask his dad about that one.
What happened to my treasured glove remains a mystery. One day it was on the shelf in our garage and then it was gone.
Believe me, I searched. It wasn’t with the lost, now found, bocce set, nor did I store it with my glittery red “Dorothy Gale from Kansas” roller skates.
At the sporting goods store, the young clerk acted like a pro in assisting women who shop for their own personal baseball gloves. I doubt he’d have batted an eye had I picked up a catcher’s mask for good measure.
A blue mitt on the wall display caught my eye, but its 13-inch cavity swallowed my hand. I pulled on a series of red and black, dark brown, and light tan gloves—Wilson, Mizuno, and Easton.
Finally, my hand slid into a soft black and tan mitt—one with a head start in the break-in process. The same one that’s now folded under the weight of our mattress.
It isn’t blue, but it’s a Rawlings. I couldn’t wait to get home and try it out.