Glove on the Rocks

On Saturday afternon I went over to Tompkins Square Park for a leisurely game of catch with Nick and Andra (a fiancée with a live arm). Leisurely, that is, if you consider the shrill blare of a hardcore band playing an outdoor show elsewhere in the park to be none too disrupitve. Suffice it to say we could have had a better soundtrack than one with a lead singer who sounded like a dog barking into a microphone.

A few minutes into our session, a zinger from Nick (who may be the next lefty option out of the Yankee pen if C.J. Nitkowski‘s religious awakening doesn’t include a miracle out pitch) literally went right through my glove. I looked down to discover that the laces on the middle run of its web had broken. In the words of Tanner Boyle, “CRUD!”

Now this glove, a Rawlings RBG80 “Greg Luzinski” model, dates back to my Little League days (yes, that’s it in my old photo). Only the second glove I’ve ever owned, it was big on me when it was brand-new circa 1980, back when Luzinski (“The worst outfielder I ever saw, bar none,” according to Bill James) was still “playing” the field. But 22 years later it fits my hand perfectly… like a glove, you might say. Replacing it is virtually unthinkable, despite — or rather, because of — the wear it’s endured over the years, which includes a bit of sweat-induced peeling on the interior heel. I haven’t done jack to maintain the mitt since I went out for my high school’s freshman team, due in equal parts to idleness (it lay dormant for well over a decade until I retrieved it from my childhood bedroom in Salt Lake City in the summer of ’98), laziness, and superstition — I’m too worried I may do more harm than good with some hamfisted attempt at maintenance. Just pound the leather a few times and let’s go, damn it!

I finished the afternoon’s game with my damaged mitt, one ball squriting through the hole in the web but the rest compensated for by catching the ball in the pocket (ouch) or the upper web. But it’s clear I’m going to need to send it to a glove doctor not only for a new lace but some long-overdue TLC. I’ve skimmed through several web sites and consulted Noah Lieberman’s definitive tome, Glove Affairs, and I have some options. What I’d like to know is if any readers have experience in getting their gloves repaired and can recommend somebody, especially if it’s a New York-area local so that I could save on shipping. I figure this could run $50-75 all in if I spring for a whole set of laces and perhaps a fix on that peeling, a price that still beats buying a new one.

A little help? Please drop a line in the comments.

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