When I was 12, I lost a blue bicycle jacket with a red racing stripe
down the front. This wasn’ t a Kmart knockoff; it was the real thing. In
a “ Brady Bunch” kind of way, it was then the coolest piece of clothing I’ d
It was also then the most important thing I ever lost.
My mom never noticed the jacket was gone; at least she didn’ t ask
about it. Yet more than 30 years later I still carry the guilt.
Nearly 30 years later, my son Eric, who was 11 then, felt that same
He was at the local Little League field watching his younger brother
Thomas play a game. Eric let his friend borrow our prized possession: a two-
tone Wilson 1861 Pro 20 catcher’ s glove made of Aztec leather. The two ran
off to play catch.
I splurged on the glove the year before when Eric expressed interest
in playing catcher after watching a documentary about one of my childhood
heroes, Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench. I rationalized the purchase,
mindful of how Eric’ s fastballs were beginning to bruise the palm of my
infielder’ s glove.
A couple days later, I reached into the Eric’ s baseball bag for some
gloves to play catch. The Wilson was missing.
“ Where’ s the catcher’ s mitt?” I asked.
“ I don’ t know,” Eric said.
“ When’ s the last time you had it?”
He mentioned his game of catch with his friend the other day. His
friend may have let another boy use it. Maybe they stopped playing to get a
Slush Puppie at the concession stand. Maybe they watched some of Thomas’
game and then …
Just like my jacket, the glove was gone. I had that empty feeling in the
pit of my stomach.
My wife, Julie, was beside herself. She has gone through this with the
boys daily, only it was over a misplaced shoe or a toy that magically appears
after a cursory investigation. But the glove was expensive.
Eric would learn a lesson, Julie declared. I sulked, but supported her.
His $5 weekly allowance would go to cover the cost of the glove (that’ s 14
weeks, three and a half months). He would have to do extra chores.
Eric put out an A-P-B for the glove at the Little League complex and
regularly checked the lost-and-found. Nothing.
The full extent of his inherited guilt was revealed one day when he
told Julie about crying himself to sleep every night. My wife shared the story
with a friend who had boys a few years older than ours. She deduced that
Eric was developing a conscience.
A few weeks after the glove was lost, I took the boys to a ball field for
While there, we found a rain-soaked outfielder’ s mitt someone had
left behind. We inspected it and declared that it was a quality glove and I put
it back where we found it.
As we were leaving, Eric said, “ Why didn’ t we take the glove?”
Just as he said it, I could tell he wanted those words back.
“ Don’ t you wish that when you lost the catcher’ s mitt that someone
had left it behind?”
Six days after our workout, Julie took the boys to a used sporting
goods shop for skates, preparing for the new hockey season. While she was
lacing up skates for Thomas, Eric walked up to her white as a ghost.
“ Mom … our glove is here,” he stammered. “ Look, it’ s got our name
Sure enough, there was “ Anderson” written in black Sharpie on the
inside heel of the glove. A $39.95 price tag dangled from the mitt.
Whoever picked up the glove at the Little League field had sold it to
Julie called me from her cell phone. “ You’ re never going to believe
this … ”
I was giddy.
Julie told the store manager our story. He said he had paid $20 for the
glove and that’ s what he’ d charge her.
She and the boys left with two pair of skates and our two-tone Wilson
1861 Pro 20 catcher’ s glove made of Aztec leather. It would be a long time
before Eric would let that glove out of his sight since.
The boy learned a lesson about responsibility and, maybe, honesty.
Or maybe he was just growing up.
Postscript: Eric is now 18 and pitching for Harper College in Palatine, Ill.