For some of us there's nothing better than the smell of a new glove.
This week, as fathers of ball-playing sons have received their Bradley Gloves just in time for Christmas, the thing I've heard most is, "Man, it just smells so good."
It's part of the romance of baseball. And it goes along with sounds like the crack (or ping) of ball meeting bat, or infield chatter, or (my favorite) the pop-gun sound of a dozen or so guys playing catch at the same time. Pop, pop, pop. Or the taste (depending on your favorite flavor) of sunflower seeds, or a post-game hot dog and root beer from the snack shack.
Not to get too much into my personal history, but I was around a baseball field almost every spring and summer day of my life from the day I was born until I graduated college. After a few years running around trying to earn a living, I became a baseball beat writer in 1992 and, again, found myself standing around batting cages and dugouts, all day, almost every day. When I became a dad, after a few years of watching my oldest son grow, there we were, back on the field, in the batting cage, sometimes in a gym...but around the game. After a while, professional circumstances led me away from baseball. That's life, I guess.
Fast forward to the birth of Bradley Baseball earlier this week, and the thing I look forward to the most, is getting back in the game. Just yesterday, I took a bag of gloves to the Compete Academy in Neptune, N.J., just to see if anyone wanted a look. The kids, mostly beyond my 8-15-year old target audience, wasn't too interested. But that didn't matter. I grabbed a lacrosse ball, found the concrete wall on the far side of the facility and started doing some of my favorite one-man drills. Short hops and back hands. Catch every one in the sweet spot. Try to be perfect.
I was 14 years old again.
It's good to be back in the game.