My first baseball glove was orange. My dad had exchanged several books filled with S&H Green Stamps to obtain this horrible instrument of futility.
For those of you too young to remember trading stamps, think of them as one of the first loyalty programs. Merchants would give them away with purchases, and if you collected enough, you could exchange them with the company that made them for rewards.
They became popular after World War II, when supermarkets began issuing them as an incentive. According to Wikipedia, in the early 1960s, the S&H Green Stamps company boasted that it printed more stamps annually than the government did for postage.
I can still see the orange monstrosity my father got with those stamps clearly in my mind. Unlike every other baseball glove I had seen in my seven years of life, my trading-stamp glove was not the color of rawhide or any other leather I was familiar with. It was bright orange, like the color of a hunting vest. With the black stitching outlining it, my glove resembled a Halloween mask.
It was as flat as a piece of paper, except for the thumb portion, which was located directly in front of the forefinger portion. The only object I could ever catch while using this glove was a pancake. It was hideous, and as a second-grader, I would arrive to a game and immediately toss it underneath the dugout bench and grab my brother’s Rawlings outfielder’s glove with the fake Mickey Mantle autograph on the palm.
His glove had been bought with Plaid stamps. The center of my brother’s glove had a deep pocket that allowed its user to catch any fly ball that came in contact with it. My brother didn’t care that I took his glove because we were seldom in the field at the same time, as our team could only experience one inept Buckley at a time.
On those rare occasions when the two Buckleys were in the field together, I ended up with the Halloween glove and took my usual position in deep right field, praying that nothing would be hit in my direction. Since I had no hope of ever catching a fly ball, I would use my glove like a flyswatter and strike any incoming baseball onto the ground before picking it up and bouncing it toward second base.
If a ground ball made it into the outfield, I used my frying-pan-like baseball glove to block the ball, which would usually ricochet in the direction of the center fielder. I attribute my abysmal baseball career to that orange glove ... and my inability to hit a curveball, fastball or any other pitch lobbed over the plate.
My baseball career could have been different. If only my Dad had bought my glove with Plaid stamps.