In their article Glove Story (May 7), Steve Wulf and Jim Kaplan have put into words what I have been futilely struggling to explain to my wife for the past 10 years. I have never been able to successfully convey to her the essence of the relationship between a ballplayer and his glove—even for someone like me, who played all the way from Little League to semipro ball.
Perhaps now she will realize I am not alone when I pause at the glove rack in the sporting goods department just to smell the new leather.
WILLIAM P. HOPKINS
To some of us, the baseball glove of our youth replaced the flannel blanket of our infancy. My Rawlings Brooks Robinson MVP model with its wool-lined strap provided mc with blissful security during the awkward years of growing up. The confidence it gave me as I stood in leftfield, pounding my fist into the deep-well pocket, flowed over into the academic and social sides of my life.
I finally realized the importance of my mitt when I took the oral exam for my master's degree in geophysics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Armed with chalk and my well-worn Rawlings, I stood before five serious professors.
June 10, 1990
The committee chairman asked me, "What's the baseball glove for?" I nervously replied, "So that I can field the tough questions."
I passed. My mitt still hangs next to my degree. Thanks, Brooks.
La Jolla, Calif.
Now I understand why former California Angel third baseman Doug DeCinces got mad at me. About eight years ago, I was producing a preseason television special on the Angels. John Baumann ("Bowser" of the musical group Sha Na Na) hosted the show.
At one point, Baumann asked to borrow DeCinces's glove for an on-camera bit. DeCinces reluctantly agreed. Unfortunately, Baumann had just greased his hair. The grease was still on his hand when he put on DeCinces's pride and joy. I was surprised when DeCinces, who was usually unflappable, started screaming that Baumann ruined his glove. I offered to buy DeCinces a new glove. He said I didn't understand.
I do now. Sorry, Doug.
In 1937, at the time when he could least afford it, my dad spent $11 to buy me a brand new Spalding glove. I was 12, and that glove went through junior and senior high school games, American Legion ball, a tryout with the Red Sox (Uncle Sam wanted me more), overseas service in Africa and Europe, semipro ball and finally, when I was 42, the local church league. It endured innumerable games of catch with my three sons.
When I recently found it moldy and soaking wet in the leaking trunk of my car, 30 years of treasured memories flooded back.
Thanks and well done.
In his description of life in the bullpen (A Land of Stupid Dances, April 16), Dan Quisenberry says he believes the word bullpen derives from the practice of having pitchers warm up in a pasture. According to Michael Gartner's article, "Words," in The Fireside Book of Baseball, the reason it is called a bullpen is that pitchers warmed up in the shade of the billboards advertising Bull Durham tobacco on the outfield fences, which existed in many ballparks.
•In The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, Paul Dickson, who traces the baseball usage of the word bullpen back to 1877, mentions the derivation given by Gartner. He also discusses two other possibilities: that the term described an area in foul territory beyond first and third bases in early ballparks, where spectators stood penned in like bulls; and that the term was taken from bullfighting (relief pitchers being likened to reserve bulls, which are penned near the arena so they can be quickly brought in should the bull in the ring be found lacking in fighting spirit).—ED.
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