Leather

WITH MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL’S first work stoppage since 1994 looming, here’s a question: Do your remember your first baseball glove? This was mine:

I remember my dad taking me to buy it at a sporting goods store near Bachman Lake. On the caramel-colored leather was inscribed the name of the manufacturer, HUTCH, of Cincinnati, Ohio; and the words SAIN MODEL. I was 9 or 10 and needed Dad to explain to me that SAIN referred to Johnny Sain, who was then retired but had been an all-star pitcher for the Boston Braves and the Yankees in the ’40s and ’50s. Not sure I ever bothered to find out how good he was — or that sports editors in his era were capable of poetry.

From his obit in the LA Times when he died in 2006 at the age of 89:

His best year as a pitcher was 1948, when he and Spahn led the Boston Braves to the World Series, where they lost to the Cleveland Indians.

The popular saying — “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain” — came from a poem written by Boston Post sports editor Gerald Hern that reflected the state of Boston’s starting pitching.

Spahn and Sain were dominant — especially during the pennant stretch — and the rest of the rotation was unheralded.

First we’ll use Spahn, then we’ll use Sain,

Then an off day, followed by rain.

Back will come Spahn, followed by Sain,

And followed, we hope, by two days of rain

So wrote Gerald Hern.

During the pennant drive, the right-handed Sain pitched nine complete games in 29 days, winning seven.

About Sean Mitchell

SEAN MITCHELL is a journalist, critic and former staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Herald Examiner and Dallas Times Herald. His articles and reviews have also appeared in The New York Times, New York Magazine, and other publications. Born in Bethlehem, Pa., he grew up in Dallas and is a graduate of St. Mark’s School of Texas and Brown University. He lives in Dallas.
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One Response to Leather

  • Eric Nye says:

    My first glove was a regular glove like yours, most likely made by Wilson. My father bought gloves for him and me at Cullen & Boren downtown. When my father would come home from work every day, we would get out our gloves, ball, and bat and play “flies and grounders” in Lee Park. As the name implies, my father would hit me flies and grounders to hone my fielding skills.

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