In middle school and high school, I played first base and left field. When I was stationed at first, I used a Rawlings RFM14 (Wally Joyner signature model). I Iiked it. It was a good glove. In fact, it helped me set a school record for consecutive put outs without an error in 8th grade at old College Place Middle School.
Here, in the only known picture of me during one of my high school baseball games…
Back in 1991, I went to Spring Training. For the final spring training game of the year, the Mariners let me be their bat boy for the day — a Mariners win over the Cubs behind the pitching of Randy Johnson and hitting of Ken Griffey, Jr. That day, the much-loved Harold Reynolds actually used my RFM14 to warm up before the game. So, it was definitely a good glove with a rich history.
Then came 1994 and my playing days were finished. But for some of my lucky friends, there was more organized baseball to be played. A contingent of my best friends went on to play at junior colleges and a couple four-year universities. One of those guys was my good friend since Sherwood Elementary School, Brian “The Amazing Speed” O’Neal. “The Amazing Speed” was a joke nickname in 5th grade. Later on, one of the guys would bestow upon Brian the nickname “Butch,” and for me it has stuck.
Anyway, Butch went on to play college ball in Oregon. He was a pitcher, and later a first basemen. With my playing days behind me, it made sense for me to loan my trusty RFM14 to Butch. And so, I did.
Fast forward 15 years to Monday, December 7, 2009. Butch and I have exchange thed occassional email and we spoke briefly on the phone once this past season. But for the most part, we’ve been out of contact for probably 12-13 years. But on Monday my wife called me at work to inform me, “You received a package in the mail today…from Brian O’Neal!”
Alarms instantly went off in my head. “Oh, my god,” I thought, “ITS MY GLOVE!”
Although I have never made any effort to retreive my glove or ever really been concerned about getting it back, I’ve never forgot about that glove. It has crossed my mind from time-to-time as the years have passed.
Could this really be the day? I didn’t know why else Butch would be sending me a package.
Colleen asked if she could open the package.
“No way,” I responded! “How big is it?”
“Like a package from Amazon.com,” she replies.
“Hmm…” Now, I’m not so sure.
On the drive home after work, I continue thinking. Brian and I made a bunch of home “movies” — most notably, “The Hound Of The Edmondsville” — when we were…hmm…sophomores, I’d guess. Maybe this Amazon.com sized box was a VHS copy of the “‘Brian & Todd: Come Jam With Us” video we shot at the little kid hoops at Sherwood? That seemed more the size of an Amazon.com box.
Finally, I walk into the house and see the box. “Hey, that seems glove sized,” I though. I shook the box like it was a birthday or Christmas gift. “Hmmm…that doesn’t seem very glove’ish. And it does sort of have a video cassette’ish sound to it.”
Colleen walked in and I declared to her that “I have two ideas of what this is…otherwise, I have no clue.”
THE MOMENT OF TRUTH:
And, Butch included a note:
That’s just too funny…and thoughtful. I’m sure he figured I had given up on any thought of ever seeing the glove again. So it was very cool of him to take the time (and postage) to send it across the country to me.
Anyway, I was pretty excited to see my old friend again. I did some inspecting and found that the years hadn’t been kind…so, after typing out a quick “thank you” email to Butch, Tim and I headed to “The Baseball Store,” our local Rawlings outlet. I decided the glove could use some new laces, and I figured that it would be fun to do them in dark green, which is the primary color of our high school baseball team.
Here are some photos from the last twenty four hours.
As you can see in the upper left, the sewn connection at the top of the webbing tore off. Hopefully Butch didn’t take a hard liner to the eye due to that. I had to fix that and, as you can see at the bottom right, it now looks much better.
Here are some comparison shots of the back of the glove…
Although Brian’s “fix” was creative, I think mine will hold up a little bit better.
Finally, you can see that my old friend was a little tired and flat from his 15 year journey…
Its good to have my old friend home again.
Tim and I went to D.C. on Wednesday and, although we did not actually see a game, that was our game for the week. No game this weekend. So I needed a weekend project.
As can be seen in my entry from Wednesday, I have a black Rawlings Randy Johnson signature RBG10B glove. (You can see me holding it in this picture). I love Rawlings gloves. They are one of the very few things in my life to which I am brand loyal. But it hasn’t always been that way. For a couple years in middle school and high school, I had a Spalding Dwight Gooden signature glove. That was right at the beginning of Ken Griffey, Jr.’s career. And with Griff’s help, I fell in love with the Rawlings Trap-Eze.
During my sophomore or junior year of high school — after a beautiful black Rawlings became my primary glove — I performed surgery on that Spalding. I made it into a Trap-Eze.
This weekend, I decided to perform a similar glove surgery. I decided to turn my Randy Johnson into a throw-back Mariners Trap-Eze. Yes, I did hesitate in doing this because it is a Randy Johnson signature glove and he’s a future hall of famer. But I figured who cares. I want to maximize my enjoyment of the glove, and to do that, it needed to become a throw-back Mariners Trap-Eze.
Here we are at the beginning of the process:
The top picture shows the glove intact. Its a fine looking glove. But its no Trap-Eze. When I made my old Spalding into a Trap-Eze in high school, I just cut certain portions of the webbing out and laced the remaining portions together in a Trap-Ezesque fashion. But I wanted to do this one in a more authentic manner.
I made a glove by hand a couple years ago and (as shown in the top picture) I still have a big roll of black leather. I used the black leather to fashion a sixth finger for the webbing. I eye-balled it and tried to get it the right size and shape. I then punched holes in it for lacing.
As shown in the top picture, I used royal blue lacings like some of the Mariners did back in the day (or some (like Griff) had royal blue gloves).
In the bottom picture, you can see that I removed the original webbing. I kept it incase I was to change the glove back to its normal state some day. But I don’t foresee that. I like it too much.
I use this for all of my glove lacing needs:
That is actually a vein clamp. My mom was a nurse and over the years, she got me several vein clamps — yes, used in surgery to clamp veins — to use for stringing gloves. As a result, I was sorta the go-to guy for my baseball team when anyone needed a glove re-strung. The vein clamp works great because it locks in place once clamped down.
The stringing of all gloves can be tricky if you’re not used to it. The Trap-Eze is probably more confusing than any other glove because it has a lot more going on. Lots of lacing all over the place. But, the project turned out great. I think the sixth finger turned out just right — or as close as I should expect to be able get it by hand and eye-ball.
Here are some before and after shots. First, inside:
And the outside:
Finally, here is a shot showing some comparisons with a real Trap-Eze:
No too shabby, eh? Much better than my original Trap-Eze surgery, in my humble opinion.
By the way, while at the Rawlings outlet to get the blue lacings, I picked up a face mask for Tim’s batting helmet. He’s recently managed to foul a ball or two off of his face (how does that work?), so I figured a mask would help him avoid injuries.
Here is a look at this helmet/mask in action from this afternoon:
That is it for this weekend. The Mariners are in Baltimore Tuesday through Thursday. Tim and I will be there either Wednesday or Thursday. Getting excited to see our M’s!
By the way, the M’s won today on Griff’s RBI double in the 8th — scoring Ichiro who had 3 hits on the day. Excellent.
A strange thing happened this Memorial Day Weekend. It was a weekend. It was the baseball season. But for the first time this season, Tim and I did not go to a MLB game this weekend.
So the question, what do you do with a whole weekend without a baseball game? And a three day weekend at that?
That’s right. Baseball exists independent of Major League Baseball. In fact, I would venture to guess that its that good, old fashion, home grown non-MLB baseball that makes many of us such big fans of MLB.
So, this is what baseball looks like in the Cooks’ backyard — its a beautiful thing:
That’s Tim hitting with a wood Rawlings Tee Ball bat. At not quite three-and-a-half, Tim no longer uses a tee. And for the past week or two, he’s cast aside the foam bat in favor of the “heavy” bat.
Well, this weekend, he broke this bat hitting balls. I congratulated him on his first broken bat. When our neighor walked by with his dog, Tim ran up to the fence and yelled, “I broke my first bat on my life!” That’s no typo, he said “on” his life.
Luckily, that same neighbor — who is one of Tim’s biggest “fans” (he watches Tim hit a lot while walking his dog) — recently gave Tim his son’s old tee ball bat.
Here is Tim ready to hit:
Tim crushed some balls with his power stroke:
He went with some pitches hitting them to the opposite field:
It was great fun. However, several times on Saturday, Tim would hit himself on the back of his head with his back swing. So, I figured we should go to the best store ever — the Rawlings Outlet at the Vanity Fair Outlets in Reading, PA — and get Tim a batting helmet (if they had a size that fits a three year old). The problem was that I had to get Tim to agree to stop playing baseball to go to the store. We had the following conversation (background – Tim LOVES frosties from Wendy’s and there is a Wendy’s down the road from the Rawlings outlet, and Tim LOVES wearing all of the helmets at the Rawlings store):
TODD: Tim, do you want to go to the baseball store to get a helmet?
TIM: But first, let’s play baseball!
TODD: But, why don’t we go to the baseball store and get you a helmet and then we can come back and play more baseball?
TIM: But first, let’s play baseball!
TODD: Okay. How about this? We could play more baseball OR we could go to the baseball store and get you a helmet, and then stop by Wendy’s and get you a frosty, and then come back home and play more baseball?
TIM: (Leaning close to me and whispering in a firm voice) I CHOOSE BASEBALL!
He then ran back out in the yard and grabbed his bat.
Anyway, Sunday morning, we went and got a helmet before starting to play any baseball. And guess what? They had a helmet that fit Tim! And it was even Mariners colors!
So, to make a long story short, we played many more hours of baseball over the course of the three day weekend — as seen here:
Yes, it was a little sad not to get to a big league ball park this weekend. But, all in all, it was a great weekend. Hundreds of balls thrown, caught and hit. Lots of base running and staged run downs. Lots of high fives. And not a single blown save (like the Mariners are suffering as I type).
I highly recommend it.
Next weekend: Saturday, baseball in the back yard; Sunday, Tigers vs. Orioles in Baltimore.