Featured Column
Week of 2.9.2004
"Take care of it son
 and it'll take care of you"
Father and son playing catch
          Itís been almost fifty years since I bought it. Itís been twenty nine years since I used it in a game and itís been a decade since I used it to play catch.
          Itís a Spalding, Rocky Colavito model baseball glove with a ďWonder WebĒ and it has ďProfessional ModelĒ stamped on the heel.
          Rocky Colavito was an all-star outfielder with the Cleveland Indians and his signature is stamped right in the middle of the gloveís ample pocket.
          When I was seven years old, living in the Bronx, my dad bought me my first baseball glove. I donít remember the model, but it was for many years my favorite possession. For years I slept with it, sometimes wearing it on my left hand under the covers. As soon as he bought that glove for me he taught me how to care for it. He bought me a metal can of neatsfoot oil and showed me how to generously rub it in the leather. Then he showed me how to spit in the pocket to keep the glove flexible.
          I used that glove when I played in the New York Police Athletic League games and I used it to play catch in the middle of the street year-round except when it snowed or rained. My dad told me to take care of that glove and it would take care of me. Baseball gloves werenít used when we played stickball in the streets, but I always played with mine. My glove and me were inseparable. I had it on my left hand when my dad and I played catch in front of our house. Of all the things I did with my dad playing catch was my favorite.
          Dad was a baseball player himself. He played for his company teams and was a terrific outfielder with a good arm. He was a fair hitter with outstanding speed on the bases. Dad wanted me to be a major leaguer. He stayed interested in my baseball career all of his life. I knew he wanted me to become what he didnít.
          Iíve had my Rocky Colavito glove since 1957. I bought a fresh bottle of neatsfoot oil a few years ago and every now and then I take the glove out of its plastic bag and I spend an hour rubbing in the oil. I pound the pocket with my right fist and then I spit in the center just to keep it flexible. 
          Iím not sure why I still have the old baseball glove, but Iíve never been close to throwing it out. Iím sure it will be with me when I die. Iíd like to play catch one more time Ė maybe with my son or my daughter. I wish my dad were here today, but he died forty years ago. And to tell the truth, Iíve missed playing catch with him ever since.
          So, you see, my old baseball glove isnít just an old Rocky Colavito model. Itís my tie to my dad and both of our dreams. I can still slide my left hand in it and pound my right hand in the pocket and imagine my dad and I playing catch. I can still hear my dad telling me how to catch and throw the ball like a big leaguer. When we were done with our game of catch he would show me how to put a ball in the pocket and tie a belt around the glove so the ball would form a better pocket.
          Every time I put that old glove on my hand I see my dad sitting in the stands, watching me play. He always had that little grin on his face when he watched me play and I knew how proud he was of me.
As I grew older and played in softball leagues I still used my old glove. I knew it could last forever because I would always rub it down with neatsfoot oil and put a ball in its pocket before I put it in the closet until the next game. Iíve replaced some of the webbing and a few laces over the years and in some places the leather is shredding but my old glove is still playable.
          I have some of my dadís old baseball medals. I have some of his cuff links and some poems he wrote, but nothing I have brings my dad and me closer than my old baseball glove.
          Maybe someday, someplace, somehow Iíll be standing around, pounding my fist in the pocket and my dad will say, ďCímon, son. Letís have a catch.Ē Iíll see that little grin on his face and weíll start throwing the old baseball back and forth. 
          Itíll just be a little game of catch with my dad and me Ė and my old glove.
      Ron was born in the Bronx, New York. He was raised in Southern California and lived in Honolulu, Hawaii for three decades. He attended Inglewood High School and U.C.L.A.. His youthful goal was to become a major league baseball player. In Hawaii Ron played on a series of championship softball teams. He is an active tennis player.
      Ronís career began at the Inglewood Daily News where as a youngster was enrolled in a publisher training program. He served as an advertising salesman, circulation manager, writer and layout and design staffer. He has been a newspaper publisher at the Oregon City Oregon Enterprise Courier, the Beloit Wisconsin Daily News, the Elizabeth, New Jersey Daily Journal and This Week Magazines (Hawaii).
      Ron lives with his wife, Marilyn, in San Diego, California. His two children, Douglas and Diane also live in the San Diego area. Ronís interests range far and wide and are reflected in his columns diverse topics.
Ron Cruger