You held my hand in joy and in sorrow, in that indescribable elation of victory and in that indescribable hollow heartbreak of defeat.
You were my friend, you were my constant companion, you were an extension of me … of my left hand.
The first time I saw you was on a shelf in a Dallas sporting goods store. And I thought nothing could be more beautiful. You cost $25 and I thought it might as well have been a thousand dollars.
We all love to hang special memories on our walls, a tribute to the wonderful days in our past. But some memories don’t need to be hung on a wall. Some memories are etched into our hearts, our very souls and they are there forever — as vivid as a night at the movie theater, as fresh as five minutes ago.
Everyone who ever fell in love with the summer game, who ever dreamed of tumbling along in the giant footsteps of the boys of summer, remembers that first glove.
For so many of us, it was a series of hand-me-down gloves. Baseball was a family affair and there were gloves everywhere. They were old and small and stuffed with unwanted padding. But they were gloves and you could play the game with them.
One afternoon, at the close of practice, the coach was hitting some extra ground balls to a trio of boys at shortstop. The ball came skittering across the hard dirt infield — just another of those countless ground balls at the end of those countless practices.
This 14-year-old freshman was down, in good position, ready for the ball. But, at the last minute it hit something and jumped on him. The glove, one of those small old hand-me-downs, was an instant late. The eye can still see the ball coming over the top of the glove, conking him on the eyebrow, making him soon look like a left-handed unicorn.
The coach was disgusted and barked: “You shortstops know there is a bad spot there. Get in front of it or get back more or get out here early and fix it.”
We took a few more ground balls and then headed for the field house. The coach saw the gigantic, unicorn-looking knot and grinned. Later, his dad got the same chuckle. Ah, but mom.
After I explained what happened, explained how a little bigger glove might have helped, arms were twisted and piggy banks were broken and we went to the sporting goods store and you were mine. Lesson learned. Dad might be king of the castle but you do not, under any circumstances, mess with moms and their boys.