Baseballism wrote, “A baseball glove is one of the few gifts you can give a 6 year old, 16 year old or 60 year old, and have them all equally excited.”
I couldn’t agree more.
My church participates in the Angel Tree Christmas program, purchasing presents for children whose parent or parents are incarcerated. On Sunday, my pastor drew attention to two gifts that were in need of an expedited effort. The children were moving out of the area at the end of the week and risked missing out on the possibility of a gift. He picked up one of the gift tags and read, “This gift is requesting a baseball glove. I wonder who could do that?”
Sometimes God works in not-so-mysterious ways.
The catch (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Perfect pun. I crack myself up.) was the cost. Gifts were supposed to cost around $20. Most of the gloves around that price are intended for little children — synthetic materials that are easily torn with no long-term future. This gift was for a teenager. No teenager wants a plastic glove.
I did some shopping at Play it Again Sports, but their glove section was hit hard from the holiday weekend sales. And then, for some reason, Chandler’s (Day #270) name came to mind. We messaged back and forth, looking at various gloves and then he had an idea. Chandler put me in touch with Justin.
For the last 18 months, Justin has been relacing and repairing gloves as a hobby.
“My boys were getting older, starting to throw harder, and really making fun of my old glove from junior high and high school. So I relaced it and did some conditioning work to give it new life.”
The glove-relacing hobby has turned into a significant side-hustle.
“I’m getting ready to do my 100th glove, and funds from the work helped cover the sports expenses of my kids as well as get me a new glove.”
Which he relaced with gold laces.
On the day the Grip ‘N’ Rip League had tryouts, Justin set up shop. When Chandler found out he was playing for the Yogis, he dropped off a glove for Justin to relace in green.
“Now we’re texting each other almost every day talking about ball gloves.”
Justin was buying laces at Springfield Leather when he met Greg (Day #246) through a serendipitous encounter at the checkout. The two exchanged information, and now Justin sells gloves that can’t be salvaged to Greg who transforms them into wallets. Justin met with Greg just a couple of days ago who also contributed to the Christmas cause.
A Yankees fan, a Don Mattingly fan, Justin pitched at Marshfield High School. He played catch with his middle son last Saturday, on a gorgeous day, as they both worked on breaking in their new gloves.
I would not describe today as a gorgeous catch-playing day. Gusty winds kept the temperature below freezing.
But they made for fantastic knuckleballs.
Just outside the Cooper Sports Complex, Justin threw knuckleball after knuckleball that would have made Phil Niekro, Jim Bouton, and R. A. Dickey proud. He’s definitely in the top 3 knuckleball throwers I’ve played catch with this year.
“I just can’t pass up a chance to hook a kid up with a glove. Baseball is a big thing in my house,” Justin said.
And that’s the story how a Royals fan, a Yankees fan, and two Cardinals fans came together to give a little bit of joy and hope for Christmas.
For the glove of the game.