The Game Called Catch (Part II)

Chrissy Wilson is a writer who lives in Reno, Nevada. She recently bought her first baseball mitt. We’re joining Chrissy as she breaks in, and ultimately becomes one with that glove. Read part one here.

“Well beat the drum and hold the phone, the sun came out today.” It seems this winter has brought insane weather all over the country. Blizzards, flash floods, endless cold fronts. Nevada, my current home, has had no salvation from these terrors. Mostly, we were completely robbed of a spring. It was cold and snowy throughout May with only a couple of days sprinkled here and there of tolerable weather where a light sweater was still required.

My new glove sat in the corner, and I yearned for sunlight and the opportunity to follow through on my purchase and break the glove in. Any time the weather was decent enough I would attempt it.

The first opportunity I got was in the beginning of April. My boyfriend and I headed to his childhood elementary school and played catch as the sun set. We wore sweaters; however, I eventually shed mine as I found myself running all over the place trying to retrieve the ball I was continually unable to catch. My boyfriend stood still fielding each ball I threw. I quickly learned that I luckily don’t throw like a girl, but I catch like one. With each ball he threw at me, I flinched and almost ducked out of the way, working up a sweat running back and forth for the ball. I was also disappointed to realize exactly how stiff my mitt was and how much breaking in this was really going to take. When the ball happened to land in my mitt, it would plop directly out and onto the ground in front of me in a depressing manner. Eventually we had to abandon ship as I was completely out of breath.

The author has more in common with Manny than she thinks.

I looked at my glove with disappointment and anger. Had I picked the wrong one? Why on Earth was it so stubbornly bowl shaped? Was it cheap leather? Do I have unnaturally weak hands? Will I ever be able to play catch without embarrassing myself? Maybe I really just wasn’t built for playing any sort of sport. I worried that maybe I should just stick to knitting and reading.

That night we went to sushi with my boyfriend’s good friend who is a die-hard Yankees fan but still a good person. His wife and my boyfriend are both novice baseball fans who just don’t understand spending a ton of money for online-streaming of games with poor video quality from or watching the Ken Burns documentary over and over again in the winter. So when the four of us go out, we tend to cross-separate with each other’s significant others to talk about our respective interests.

He informed me that he was a little-league all-star as a child. His pitching was featured in the local newspaper, and he broke records for number of strike-outs. How much of this is true, I am unsure, but I was open to any advice he was willing to give me. He advised me to fold the mitt in on itself, wrap it with rubber bands, and sleep on it. So that night when I got home, I made sure my parents weren’t home as I snuck into the kitchen and found my mother’s prized possession, her rubber band ball. She has been working on it since she moved to Reno 13 years ago. It sit satop a crystal podium and measures about a foot in diameter. As you can imagine, regular old rubber bands no longer cut it. Her rubber band of choice is the thick blue one that come on broccoli or asparagus at the grocery store. This was what I was after. I stole a couple and hoped my mother would not notice. I slipped them around my mitt and went to bed, hoping this would work. An hour into tossing and turning because of the lump under my pillow, I got frustrated and chucked it across my room. My glove and I were really off to a rough start.

Another cold front swept through the desert, and it took a week or so before I had another opportunity to play catch. This time we went to a nearby park where a multitude of families were trying to soak up the intermittent sun and thaw out from the recent freeze. I had confidence that it would all go smoothly this time around. Yet the baseball just would not stick in the glove. I was frustrated to watch the ball we used grow scuffed from grass, asphalt, dirt, etc while the glove stubbornly remained the same as the day I bought it.

The boyfriend offered to trade gloves and quickly agreed with me that the glove was still stiff. We played for a while as he struggled to bend the glove around the ball. I watched the glove molding.

“Okay, we can trade gloves back now,” I told him.
“I’ll just keep using it. It will break in faster.”
“No, that’s okay. Give it back.”
“My hands are probably a lot stronger than yours; it’ll go faster this way.”

But I wanted to break it in. Even if it takes weeks to break in, I want the glove to mold to my hand, and I want the satisfaction of knowing that I broke it in. So I took the stubborn hunk of leather from him and put it back on my hand. That’s the only way it will ever feel like my glove.

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