Of Mitts and Mutts

So purchasing a new ball glove was a tough decision for me back in the days I played softball competitively.  I  preferred using my Dad’s but my parents generously figured I would like to have my own.  I thought I did too, but I found myself bringing the ol’ reliable mitt, as well as my new one to almost all practices and definitely for any games.  I tried breaking it in but…I ended up using  that huge shovel of a glove most of the season 🙂 If I could have combined the old glove with the new, I certainly would’ve been ok creating a mutt of a mitt.

‘Scoop’ naturally became my nickname as a shortstop due to my broad fielding range and also due to the ‘front end loader bucket’ I called my softball glove.  I had this inner determination that told me I could make plays that were seemingly impossible.  My brain would see  the ball off a bat and it would quickly relay the message to my body, “Go!”

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And I would most often make the play (or at the very least kept the ball in the infield).   My confidence increased significantly when using  the Rawling’s glove my Dad and I shared.  In addition to this being a man’s size ball glove, it was also created for an outfielder.  Infielders tend to make more plays that require catching and immediate throwing than outfielders do.  Because of this difference, the two types of gloves are somewhat different in design.

For those of you that didn’t know, infielder’s gloves have varying characteristics specific to benefit his position on the diamond.  For example, a first baseman traditionally uses a style that is more like a mitt with extra leather layer in them and also are a bit longer than other infield positions.  In baseball, the phrase “get the sure out” means as an infielder, if the ball comes to you, throw the ball to first base for the out.  Using this logic, the size of the players mitts are related to their distance from first base.  So that being said, the second baseman has the smallest glove, followed by the shortstop.

Overall, outfielder’s gloves are larger, heavier and more thickly padded than infielder’s gloves.  I  had no business using one as a shortstop, and perhaps my former coaches should have pushed me to use the new infielder’s glove but maybe they knew I needed to part with it when I was ready.  Eventually I did let go of my big, leather security blanket and let Dad have his mitt back.  If I’m being honest, when using that glove, I felt Dad with me on the field and I liked that.  I wouldn’t call myself a Daddy’s girl but our sports connection had always been a strong one and I wanted to continue to hold onto it.

At this time in my young life, I still wanted to play backyard ball with Dad, I felt safe.  Playing slow pitch ball with a church league with family and friends was a whole different ball game than finding my place in competitive sports at school or Little League.  It was time to put on my big girl sliding shorts.  I conditioned that new mitt with oil, placed a softball inside it and wrapped a large rubber band around it regularly to break it in.  It only took a few weeks to truly feel comfortable playing entire games with this new Rawlings infielder’s glove.  It appeared strikingly similar to Dad’s actually which was exactly the look and feel I was going for…but it was fit for me.  New glove, new season of life.

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