During our church softball tournament last year, my beloved Rawlings "Bill Madlock" infielders mitt finally gave up the ghost. I had it for over 20 years. It was a "hand me up" from my brother who had several gloves at the time.
My first glove was a Rawlings, given to me in 1968. I still have it. When I got it, I thought that I would never need another baseball glove. It seemed huge on my hand. I used it throughout my childhood, until I stopped playing organized ball at about the age of 13. I soaked it in "glovoleum" and it could practically field balls by itself. Today, the Rawlings label on the back of the glove worn away, and I can barely fit my hand inside.
I took the kids mitt shopping last night, hoping to find a decent glove for around $50. I did a little research prior to shopping, and saw a 13.5" Rawlings for about $40 online. I also saw that I could spend as much as $280 for a fancy glove. Much to my kids' chagrin, I spent over 30 minutes looking at mitts. I picked out a Rawlings that I thought would do the trick, a dark brown model made for softball. I tried on lots of gloves, wishing that my talent could justify a larger investment. There was a Nokona glove that was gorgeous. American made from american cows. The leather was thick and soft, and even though it was only 12" glove, I had to battle my better self not to drop $100 to buy it.
I know that most mitts, and especially the ones in my price range, are made overseas. I flinch at the thought of buying a baseball glove, the crucial equipment of America's Passtime, that is not made in America. Think about how I must feel about Mizuno equipment. Major Leaguers who use Mizuno gloves are evil. What, Rawlings or Wilson or Easton aren't good enough? Yet, those Mizuno mitts are very, very nice. Especially those over $125. I am a Rawlings Guy, darn it.
I then laid eyes on a glorious glove, a Louisville Slugger glove. Again, my sensibility is offended. How dare a bat company make a mitt? Stay with your own kind, batmaker! I gotta tell you though, it was a cool glove. The leather was soft, the pocket was deep, and it had two (count 'em, 2) adjustment straps. My hands and fingers are long, but I do not have large wrists. I am scrawny. The 2 straps let me strap that baby to my arm, becoming an extension of my hand. I could see myself drifting back on a deeply hit fly ball, reaching out, and making the game saving catch with this glove.
Decisions, decisions. I really had a crisis. Do I spur my beloved Rawlings brand for comfort and performance? But it's a RAWLINGS! They were the same price. I had a similar attack last year when I bought some Sonoma brand jeans at Kohls instead of buying my beloved Levi's. How to choose? My son would have "Eenie Meenie Minie Moe'd" the decision. I was dumbstruck.
As I handed the clerk my credit card, I told her that it was a tough decision. "I'm an old fart, I've always had a Rawlings mitt. I'm a Rawlings Guy", I told her.
She put the Louisville Slugger mitt in the bag and just smiled.
I better have a good year in the field. Although I can always blame it on having a new mitt.