I spotted his 6-fingered glove as soon as we shook hands.
“I bought this for my son at Play It Again Sports and was up until 1 AM breaking it in a few years ago. At a weekend tournament, he lost a couple of gloves, bats, and his spikes — all in his baseball bag.”
Ben played baseball collegiately. The lost gloves were gloves from his college days on the diamond as a pitcher and outfielder at Oklahoma Christian University. I know it’s not reasonable by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have an emotional connection to all of my gloves. I can tell you the year I got each of my gloves, as well as the gloves I tote around that are Dad’s and Jamie’s. The gloves are carriers of stories and seasons past, a leather-bound reminder of comebackers caught and home-runs robbed.
“But it was a good lesson for him and for me, too. A little grace can go a long way.”
Ben has lived all over the Midwest and moved to Springfield a couple of years ago to be closer to family. We shared stories of torn ACLs and sore fingertips from extended guitar-playing sessions at church. Although he wore a Cardinals hat, his favorite player is Nolan Ryan.
“I saw him pitch his final home game in Texas.”
At the age of 46, Nolan was still competing in the major leagues, something that still boggles my mind.
Ben still pitches and plays outfield, now for the Raptors in the Grip ‘N’ Rip Baseball League.
“I just pitch a couple innings; Justin does a good job of managing all of us. Thursday nights, I play outfield in a slow pitch softball league and by Friday and Saturday I’m ready to play catch and loosen up for Sunday.”
At Phelps Grove Park, near a small grove of walnut trees, we tossed the ball and Ben told me of his “once-in-a-lifetime” trip to see the Giants and Rangers in the World Series.
“And then the Cardinals were in it the next year…”
I popped the trunk of the Bryan Family Millennium Falcon and showed him all of the gloves — from the 1940s Wilson to my first glove, which I just discovered has a broken lace.
As he smiled and tried on the old Wilson, Ben said, “There’s just something about this game and the way it brings people together.”
I completely agree.
With three games remaining in the MLB regular season, I’m pulling for all kinds of chaos to happen in the National League!
And with one game left in the Grip ‘N’ Rip regular season, I’m hoping the Raptors win and advance with top seeding.