A father's journal: The Brotherhood of the Mitt
Published 1:04 am, Friday, January 29, 2010
Tomlinson Middle School held a sports equipment swap the other day, and my wife asked me to drop off a bag of our used equipment. As I was handing the bag to the PTA president, I noticed my baseball mitt was inside the bag. What was Laura thinking, getting rid of my mitt? I snatched it from the bag.
After I dropped off the lighter bag, I confronted my wife.
"You were throwing out my mitt!"
She responded, "I was not throwing it out. I was donating it so someone else could use it."
"But it has my name on it. It is my mitt."
"You don't use it. The girls have stopped playing baseball and softball."
"But I need a mitt. What if someone comes over to play catch?"
"You're a middle-aged man. No one comes over to play catch."
"What about playing catch with my grandkids ... eventually?"
"Julia is 10years old. Let's not push grandkids yet."
I maintain that to be a man in America you must own a mitt. Sure, you could own a lacrosse stick, or a soccer ball or maybe a football helmet. However, I can't figure what a grown man would do with only one football helmet. Head-butt people? Having a mitt in the garage, underneath the summer inflatables, makes me a man. It validates my Y chromosome. If you snuck the mitt out of the garage and didn't tell me, my testosterone level would still drop 10 percent. You need to own a mitt to be a man. My dad owned a mitt till the day he died, at 85. At 83, he used it with a grandkid. I think my brother has the mitt now.
My 80-year-old neighbor played semi-pro baseball back in the day. Three years ago, my daughter, Caroline, started playing softball, and I asked him if he had some tips for her. He responded, "Sure ... let me go get my mitt." As he was throwing, he apologized because his last cancer surgery had taken away part of the muscle in his chest and it was harder for him to throw. I made up a new rule for the Brotherhood. If you are over 80, beaten cancer, own a mitt and can still can throw, you never have to apologize to anybody, about anything, forever.
When I go to a Bluefish or Yankee game, I do not bring my mitt. Because mitts at a professional baseball games are only used by children to catch foul balls. A man who is a spectator at a game doesn't need a mitt. According to my imaginary brotherhood handbook, he needs to catch the ball barehanded. It is understood that the grown man has a mitt at home. The one time I caught a foul ball, I knocked over my good friend to make the catch -- the guy who had just paid for the tickets. I caught it barehanded of course.
The family sitting behind us probably said to themselves at the time "Wow, did you see the way he caught it? I bet you he has a mitt at home. Did you see the way he knocked over his friend? I bet it's a nice mitt. We are covered in beer from these two idiots. But I hope his wife never throws out his mitt. That would be a sin."
My friend, who also has a mitt at home, did not see me coming. He should have. It is another unspoken rule of the Brotherhood: every man for himself on a foul ball. I did help him up. That is also a rule. My friend held no grudge. He would have done the same, if he were on my blind side.
I continued the conversation with my wife: "What if Coach John wants me to be an assistant this year?"
"He asked you last year, and you told him to go to h***."
"I didn't mean go to h***."
"What did you mean?"
"Go to h*** is guy-talk for I can't fully commit to baseball this year, but have a great season. It's one guy who owns a mitt talking to another guy who owns a mitt. It's mitt talk, which you wouldn't understand. You don't own a mitt, and you tried to throw my mitt away"
She had to help me up after that remark. Perhaps she could be part of the Brotherhood.