"He put on a couple of thin, half-fingered buckskin gloves.  He went out to catch and he caught hell from everybody…" – Regarding Cincinnati's catcher Allison in Glove Affairs by: Liberman

The original disgrace

I still have my first little league glove at home, safely tucked away with newspaper clippings and a worn uniform, in the family hope chest.  I remember getting it as a gift, from my old man, on my ninth birthday. At the time, I thought, "Man, no other kid can have a black leather mitt as sweet as this Wilson". I wore that thing everywhere those first few days, in anticipation of the season.  I'd pace the backyard, repeatedly slamming a brand new ball into the stiff netting, breaking it in. I was always very fond of that piece of leather, and it suited me well through my grade school years.  So, I can completely understand why people have an affinity for their gloves. One time, after snagging a line drive at short, I even recall thinking, "How did guys ever play this game without one of these things?"

But they did.

Navy dudes are super tough!

Today, I still occasionally wonder how those baseball pioneers, playing in the late 19th century, had the nads to catch fastballs or knock down come-backers with nothing more than their bare hands.  But that's when I realize that those guys were heroes, heroes who used to play with cracked, blistered, and bloody hands. "Gloves? We don't need no stinking gloves!"…that was their motto.  Those dudes should be an inspiration to us all.  They played hard every night, after working in fields and crummy factories all day long.  They didn't need some silly hot tub to soak their weary bones after a game…they just slammed some whiskey, hit the sack, and did it all over again the next day.

Unfortunately, that pure essence of play couldn't last…and some wussy catcher by the name of Allison started the downward spiral that has led to the accursed prosthetics, which are relied upon by all major leaguers today.  However, as disappointing as the baseball glove's evolution is to me personally, its necessity may be difficult to refute.  Playing through bruised hands is one thing…having every one of your catchers hit the IR after receiving a Randy Johnson fastball is something entirely different.  So, although early glove wearers were justly ridiculed by their peers, one could argue that these pansies had a point. Baseball gloves are probably a good thing…for baseball.

Still, we should be very careful about extending the age old adage about "What's good for the goose…" to our beloved Wiffle-ball.  As similar as the two are, they are most certainly NOT the same.  Just because your favorite pro totes around a Rawlings XLS-6000, doesn't mean your replica is welcome at the wiffle rink.

This guy's uniform is sweet!
But that glove's gotta go!

We need to keep the spirit of this league pure, baby!  Like the founders of baseball, those gravel-in-their-guts heroes of old who played just for the love of the game, we all need to toughen up! What do you need a mitt for?  Honestly. Toss aside the crutch, comrade, and play wiffle the way it was intended to be played. If it's "gloves" today, it'll be "aluminum bats" tomorrow. Before you know it, we'll have guys showing up with batting helmets and Barry Bonds elbow-pads.  A wiffle ball is made from plastic…hollow plastic.  It doesn't hurt to catch one.  It doesn't hurt to get hit by one (regardless of what Jim West will tell you). Until the day when my paws are too bloodied to play, my glove's staying right where it ought to, with the rest of my childhood memorabilia.

Be a hero, be a man…use your hands!

Notice what this glove does to your wrist?

Editor's note: The author's views were in no way skewed by the 2 home run robbing catches made by his gloved-opponent last Monday night, nor by his own 15+ bare handed fielding errors committed this season.

Joe Lawrence is an HRL:TC writer as well as a player for the Brewers.  Comments or questions can be addressed to Joe at the Message Board.

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