A Little Game of Catch

A taste of summer’s pastime lobs some memories for a Midwestern grandfather.

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We bought two new ball gloves for the grandkids, and it turns out Grandma and Grandpa are the only ones using them.

Since we have several grandchildren at various stages of T-ball, softball or baseball, my wife just knew they’d latch onto the new gloves, which she tossed into our big tote of toys.

That’s the first issue — most of the kids have outgrown that toy box, which is rather sad.

Secondly, the old game of “catch” doesn’t compare with the gadgets and backyard shenanigans enjoyed by today’s kids.

Oh, sure, they still like a little game of baseball, but we notice that a half inning is plenty for them. That’s enough to make Grandma and Grandpa huff and puff anyway.

But those ball gloves — exactly alike with “softball” stamped on one and “baseball” on the other — are still getting a good workout.

After the grandkids went home, Grandma and I started picking up the backyard and stowing away the play things.

That’s when she picked up a glove, pounded it with her fist and said those magic words: “Wanna play some catch?”

She didn’t have to ask twice.

We both grew up in an era when front yard catch was a daily ritual.

But first, we had to get those gloves ready for action.

We pounded them, oiled them and bent them in every direction.

We repeated old stories about taking a baseball and pounding it in a new glove at least a thousand times. Only after forming a pocket would the glove be ready for mid-afternoon action.

When I bought my first glove in 1953, an old coach in town told me to pound that glove, oil it, then toss it the back window of my parents’ car.

“They need lots of heat,” he said.

So, I followed his directions to the letter. It mainly left an oily spot, which aggravated my dad.

It must have worked, because that ball glove still rests on a book shelf in my office. I paid $1.75 for it at the hometown hardware store. It bears the autograph of Mickey Mantle. But I wrote the name on there myself to impress my buddies.

I figure someday my great-grandchildren will find the glove, observe that fake signature and sell the glove on eBay for $500.

As for Grandma and Grandpa playing catch in the backyard — the ol’ knack for throwing and retrieving is still there.

But, the rule still applies that if I throw it over her head, I’ve got to go get it myself.

Life isn’t fair, but it’s made better by a little game of catch.

Rudy Taylor and his family publish three weekly newspapers in southeast Kansas, with offices in Sedan, Caney, Cherryvale, Independence and Oswego.

 

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