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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Smell The Glove

While everyone of a certain vintage has heard of Mister Miyagi teaching his Karate Kid protege Daniel-san all about wax-on wax-off, few have ever heard of the Mister Miyagi of baseball glove artistry.

You might even call him the Japanese version of Mister Miyagi, except that Mister Miyagi is Japanese, so the point is moot. Ha.

To the uneducated, one could assume that a baseball glove is a baseball glove is a baseball glove, with the key difference being that catchers use a different glove from everyone else.

True, but nowadays, there are pitcher’s gloves, middle infielder gloves, 1st baseman gloves, 3rd basemen gloves and outfielder models in addition to ye olde catcher’s mitt.

While many might assume there are few variations within each type of glove, there are in fact a plethora of them, and all, save the least expensive seem to serve a purpose for the baseball player using them.

Just like everyone’s hands are not created equal, the same could then be said for the ballplayer’s glove, necessitating the search for the perfect glove.

Yes, in non-reference to that famous 1990s utterance - if the glove don’t fit, you can’t commit.

Okay… maybe I changed the last word away from ‘convict’ in reference to the OJ Simpson murder trial in my paraphrasing...
OJ and murder - not just for breakfast anymore.
At the lead of the change in thinking about how the glove makes the fielding baseball player is a now-70-year-old Japanese man named Aso Shigeaki (surname first).

Born in Toride-shi, just north of Tokyo in 1945, Aso works for Wilson, and has been a designer of baseball gloves for over 30 years, with over 20-designs to his credit—though the Wilson 1786 model is considered by himself and major league ball players as his masterpiece.

Still manufactured today, the Wilson 1786 middle infielder (2nd Base & Shortstop) is a small glove preferred by those who play the position.

I played 3B and preferred a much larger pocket, and have what is considered an illegal glove for its length, but since I’m only coaching kids, there’s no urgency.

All I know is that I went to a shop, the glove caught my eye, tried it on, and it well, fit like a glove. Literally.

It felt like it was a part of my hand and I knew I had to buy it. So I saved up my nickels and dimes and bought it a few weeks later.

I still use it every day, but of course, I only bought it four years ago. I’m not a rich man, except in the things that count - which sucks.

I had made the mistake of letting my then seven-year-old son Hudson take my old—and I mean 30+ year-old glove to school, where it was destroyed. I still can’t get rid of it, though.

I know, I have a problem. 

Anyhow, to read the wonderful article on Aso Shigeaki, please click on the SportsNet article written by David Singh HERE.  

My only complaint of the article, is that there’s no commentary from Aso himself.

By the way, a 1786 Wilson ball glove can set you back anywhere from US$250 to $300.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Image above is from Wilson, showing Aso “breaking” in a glove with a wooden mallet  to remove its stiffness to make it easier for a ball player to cradle the ball. Shaving cream, lanolin, Vaseline, Mink oil, tanner’s glove oil, saddle soap, and more, including the glove manufacturer’s own oil brand… which doesn’t seem to be enough for the persnickety Aso.
PPS: The headline of this article—Smell The Glove—is, of course, taken from the fictional album by the mockumentary heavy metal rock group Spın̈al Tap from the movie This Is Spın̈al Tap.
PPPS: I have no idea why that nugget of information resides in my brain. But I'm glad it does.
PPPPS: How about that, not only did this blog feature a Karate Kid reference, an OJ Simpson reference—sports in both re: karate and football—but I even managed to not actually write about the actual topic myself. For the record, Spinal Tap played in Japan. And... the judge in the OJ Simpson murder trial was Lance Ito, a Japanese-American whose family was interned in an American camp during WWII. No... I don't plan these things. Just lucky I guess... again, not in the things that count.   

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