The Glove Says "I Love You"


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The ball in the glove stretches out in front of me, papers strewn below, around and beyond it, the sweat stains on the sides hint at long hours and tired fingers, sore palms under the palms that lined the streets of my childhood, where baseball seemed synonymous with the word “LIFE” and life can be encompassed in the sound of the ball smacking into the glove--home, home plate, home of the strikes and balls, innings and outs, pitches and runs, runs through my memory like some timeless shadow that echoes the shadows that play across the bill of my ball cap that holds back the locks of sweaty bangs, and reminds me of hours of work with a dad who said “I love you” without ever doing more than holding out a glove.
My dad did the same for me. Like his dad before, his glove was pounded countless times from hours at the baseball diamond. Sometimes, perhaps more than his dad had to do for him, he would have to run and grab the pitches that went way too far to the right or over his head...or too far to the left. But he never complained. I’ll never forget the hours that he spent behind home plate, helping me learn the value of hard work and a two-seam fastball. Those hours, though he never made a dollar off them, are worth all the money in the world to me.
I don’t play much baseball anymore. My glove, hat, cleats, and bat stand in the garage where I left them several years ago. There’s not a chance I’d fit in those baseball pants, and my jersey would probably be more of a crop top than a jersey...but what I will never forget is what they stand for. When I see them there in the garage, I see hours spent with my hero. I hear the countless conversations we’ve had across the years echoed in the activities we did and the time he spent with me.
Age doesn’t necessarily take away our ability to enjoy the things we once loved. It doesn’t have to taint the memory of road trips, and surf trips, and work trips. Experience brings wisdom...but not without knowledge and at least some kind of understanding of the things that matter most. My dad gave me that. He, in the wisdom brought by years of experience, understood what I needed to grow and learn. Sometimes, I guess, it’s more productive to spend an hour kneeling behind home plate on a dusty baseball diamond in the sweltering heat than to spend another hour at the office. It’s the kind of thing that can’t be measured in time. Or dollars. It’s seen in battered shoes, worn gloves, and smile lines around the eyes. It’s the dent on the bat, or the scrape on the knee, or the calluses on hands that have pulled countless weeds alongside a young son.
The lessons I’ve learned from my father are a labor of love. He wasn’t paid for it, he doesn’t get a massive ROI from it, or some huge tax write-off. But maybe, just maybe, someday he’ll drive up to a house at the end of a lane somewhere and see a boy and his father playing catch. He’ll walk up to the father and say “Where’d you learn to spend time with your son like that?” And I’ll turn, and hug him, and say “Just following your example dad.”
And maybe, just maybe, my dad will remember an old baseball glove sitting on his desk, covered in the sweat-stains of a father who loved his son. “I love you” is a phrase often heard in our family. But, more than anything, it’s something that’s shown through service. Through time. Demonstrated, rather than just said. That glove, more than any amount of words, says “I love you.”
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