When a Glove is More Than a Tool of the Trade

A few years ago, we here at Krause Publications managed to assemble enough crippled bodies to cobble together a softball team, lower-tier if there was any doubt.

We had a great time, even won a few games in a local league where the social aspect is by far the greater goal than what happened on the field.
After the last game of the season, I wandered home and forgot all about softball until the following spring when I couldn’t find my glove anywhere. It was nothing special, except that I had used it since early high school and I believe it had Willie Wilson as the facsimile signature on it. Anyway, it shagged a lot of fly balls in its day. The model I used to replace it was actually used by my mother, who had taught me the game while using that glove. It didn’t have any player signature in it and is probably past its prime in usefulness. However, I will keep it because of the details I just mentioned.

What I’ve come to realize of late is a lot of collectors have player signature gloves as part of their collections – and they have a lot of them. I guess it’s something I never really considered collecting. I think of a glove as a tool of the trade. Oil it up, throw it in the oven, slap it on your knee and you’re good to go until the laces break and you need a new one. I never though about hunting down Robin Yount, George Brett or Ozzie Smith models just to keep around as keepsakes when I was younger.

And perhaps that’s not how it works. You want player gloves from a bygone era – something you can’t grab off the sporting goods shelf. I’ve seen a lot of gloves roll into the offices of late, from Pee Wee Reese to Ted Williams to Joe DiMaggio. It’s fun to see the style of gloves from the 1970s back through the 1950s, and I might try using one for the next softball season. I’m kidding, of course – don’t you know the size of those model gloves is way too small to grab a softball?

Why it is that outfield gloves are now big enough to catch a watermelon? Is it like tennis racquets, where bigger is better to “capture” a greater area?
It’s a lot of fun to see some of these gloves. You can see how they’ve been kept around, as I’m sure many little leaguers used these as their first gloves and they were later handed out at secondhand store before being deemed collectible. Heck, it’s a cheaper route to go to grab the Hall of Famers versus cards, autographs or jerseys. 

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