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Waiting for April

March 2, 2010

Every March, we began oiling our baseball gloves so that they’d be ready for Little League try-outs in April. There was something almost  religious about squirting oil into the pocket of my glove, like blessing myself with holy water on Sundays at Sacred Heart Church. For me, holy water and oil were tickets to heaven and the Big Leagues. Looking back at it now, maybe I believed Fenway Park was heaven.

When I finished oiling my glove, I’d descend the creaky stairs leading to the dark, cobweb-filled cellar. I’d spread out an old newspaper on top of my father’s workbench and set my glove on it.  I’d admire the old, Mickey Mantle-signed Rawlings but never for too long. Things were always moving down there; the place gave me the creeps. Before leaving, I’d pray spiders would not set up residence inside the glove’s fingers.

The next order of business in those days of the late 50s and early 60s was to break out the old baseball cap wintering in the closet. Mine was a black hat with a white P for Penguin AC, the name of my team. The most important thing about  the hat was that you had to have a crease just above the letter. To create that effect you stuck 4 or 5 crisp baseball cards inside the front of the hat so that they’d sit on the band that rimmed it. We’d stick Red Sox baseball cards inside like Mike Fornieles or Frank Malzone. Gary Geiger and Ike Delocke always made the cut, too. Yankee players were frowned upon – we were from Boston. I did, however, on occasion, secretly slip in the slugging Harmen Killebrew from  the Washington Senators. There were kids from the next street over who filled their hats with baseball cards that had been clothespinned to the spokes of their bicycle tires. That was never a good plan because 1) the cards were already bent and 2) their bikes would lose that cool, flapping sound made by the cards.

The most difficult thing about the month of March was the waiting – waiting for April and that first good swing when bat-on-ball was all that really mattered…

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2 Comments
  1. Love the players names… Our team was Shipp’s Construction. We were last place two years in a row (maybe three). Most games, I took up anchor in the outfield. I was graceless, prone to error. I did not wait with the same excitement as you; but I enjoy reading these memories. Keep ’em coming… right down the pipe!

  2. John,
    I did some time in the outfield, too. I remember one time being distracted by some commotion at the the snack bar while I was in centerfield. I looked over to see what was going on. When I looked back to the plate, I thought I spotted a line drive heading right at me. I dove to the ground for what I thought was a fast sinking line drive. It turned out to be a bird. I nonchalantly got up, hoping no one saw my “graceless” move.

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