Connected successfully  The Okie Legacy: Vol 12, Iss 16 1875 - Baseball Glove Come To Baseball

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                             Volume 12, Issue 16 -- 2010-04-20                     

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1875 - Baseball Glove Come To Baseball

Did you know that baseball developed before the Civil War, but did not achieve professional status until the 1870s?

As for the very first professional team in 1869, that would be the Cincinnati Red Stockings, but their life as some say, "Their life was brief and the team went bankrupt within a year of its founding."

It was 1871 that the National Association of Professional Basebal Players was formed, at its peak and consisted of 13 teams. Those too were plagued by financial difficulties and were abandoned in 1875.

It was 1876 that the formation of the National League of Professional Baseball Players (shortened to National League) saw its formation. The rival American League was founded in 1884 and an era of modern professional baseball had begun.

It was during these early days of baseball that players were expected to take the field without benefit of protective equipment such as a baseball glove or catcher's mask. They go on to state, "The pain of sport was to be endured without complaint. Any effort to mollify the rigors of the game was looked upon as a sissified attempt to demean the sport."

Do you know who was on a contemporary baseball care in 1887, as a 1st Base, Pittsburgh? If you guessed Sam Barkley, you guessed correctly.

In 1911, Spalding wrote of his experiences in early baseball and his first baseball glove, ""The first glove I ever saw on the hand of a ball player in a game was worn by Charles C. Waite, in Boston, in 1875. He had come from New Haven and was playing at first base. The glove worn by him was of flesh color, with a large, round opening in the back. Now, I had for a good while felt the need of some sort of hand protection for myself. In those days clubs did not carry an extra carload of pitchers, as now. For several years I had pitched in every game played by the Boston team, and had developed severe bruises on the inside of my left hand. When it is recalled that every ball pitched had to be returned, and that every swift one coming my way, from infielders, outfielders or hot from the bat, must be caught or stopped, some idea may be gained of the punishment received.

"Therefore, I asked Waite about his glove. He confessed that he was a bit ashamed to wear it, but had it on to save his hand. He also admitted that he had chosen a color as inconspicuous as possible, because he didn't care to attract attention. He added that the opening on the back was for purpose of ventilation.

"Meanwhile my own hand continued to take its medicine with utmost regularity, occasionally being bored with a warm twister that hurt excruciatingly. Still, it was not until 1877 that I overcame my scruples against joining the 'kid-glove aristocracy' by donning a glove. When I did at last decide to do so, I did not select a flesh-colored glove, but got a black one, and cut out as much of the back as possible to let the air in.

"Happily, in my case, the presence of a glove did not call out the ridicule that had greeted Waite. I had been playing so long and had become so well known that the innovation seemed rather to evoke sympathy than hilarity. I found that the glove, thin as it was, helped considerably, and inserted one pad after another until a good deal of relief was afforded. If anyone wore a padded glove before this date I do not know it. The 'pillow mitt' was a later innovation."

My Grandpa William J. "Bill" McGill began his baseball days in the earlier 1900s in Oklahoma and Kansas -- which took him down to Austin, Texas as a fast, south-paw pitcher for the Southwest Texas league with the Austin Senators and later a season with the St. Louis Browns and the Major leagues before coming back to the brand new state of Oklahoma and pitching for the Guthrie baseball team in 1909.
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