By Michael Remas
I gave away my baseball glove the other day.
I'm 81 years old.
It was a Rizzuto model - named for famed Yankee shortstop Phil "The Scooter" Rizzuto - made by Regent in the 1950s and '60s, to give you some idea of its age.
Why did I finally part with it? It wasn't easy.
The memories are what I was really hanging on to. That glove was part of my youth.
"Why are you keeping that old baseball glove?" Sylvia, my late wife, would ask.
"Just a kid at heart, I guess," I would explain.
But she understood.
The glove lay on a shelf in the garage for many years. Next to my Phillies cap. I've followed the Phils since 1946.
On the shelf myself for a number of years, I would put the glove on now and then, pound the pocket, toss the ball into the air, and catch it. But I was just dying to field some grounders.
And that's what I usually did when I would try it on for old times' sake - through my 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and the other day - as it took me back to the unmanicured infields around Wilkes-Barre or of the Great Lakes Bluejackets of my Navy days.
I'll use it again someday, I'd tell myself.
At times, I would rub it with saddle soap or baby oil, wipe it off, and then set a baseball in the pocket to retain its shape, which I can't say I have myself.
The baseball was from the old Class A Eastern League. The name of Tommy Richardson, league president, is still visible. I obtained it from George Toma, the famed groundskeeper, during a Wilkes-Barre Barons basketball game about 1950. Heck, it was older than my glove!
It was in Wilkes-Barre that Toma, my hometown neighbor in nearby Edwardsville, began learning the skills that eventually brought him fame as a groundskeeper. George knows so much about dirt that he's enshrined in the National Groundskeepers Hall of Fame.
But I'm off base.
I've had other gloves.
My very first was Army issue, stamped right on its heel in black lettering. It was a Marty Marion model that my dad got from a World War II ex-GI in the late 1940s, when I was just learning to love the game. Great web!
I used it at Great Lakes after I enlisted and later packed it into my seabag when I was assigned to a minesweeper in 1954. Someone threw it into the East China Sea during a clean sweep-down of the ship as we sailed to Taiwan. Perhaps they thought it sacrilege that an Army glove was on a Navy ship. I've always wondered what else may have happened to it in those foreign waters.
Returning to civilian life, I played with various models over the next few years and eventually discovered the Scooter version sometime in the 1960s.
It served me well for quite a few seasons, even after hardball opportunities waned and I switched to fast-pitch softball - until Error 6 or Error 4 began cropping up more than I liked and I knew my sandlot days were coming to an end. My batting average soon followed.
I'd often get the itch to play, but it was time for my mitt to hit the shelf for good.
You're familiar with the expression that some things never change. Baseball is one of them. It gets into your system and remains there.
So, here it is, 2015. There is still snow on the ground and some on my temples, but the inevitable has arrived. Spring training is under way, rookies are trying to make the big team, and veterans are trying to hold on while Ernie Banks, Minnie Minoso, and too many other stars of my youth are no longer with us. Spring for some; autumn for others.
In any case, it was time to say goodbye.
I shipped that old glove to my great-grandson in Florida. May he enjoy it as much as I did.
Now, what do I do with these spikes?