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A Piece of the Past - November/December 2006

Glove Exhibit

Two fingers, three fingers, four fingers. Hardly any padding. Some padding. Lots of padding.

The transition in the design of baseball gloves is easy to see for the visitors at the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum in South Williamsport, Pa.

MacGregor, Wilson, Spaulding, J.C. Higgins, National Trading Co. and Reach Co. baseball gloves and mitts are among those on display in the Vintage Baseball Gloves and Mitts exhibit.

Included is a fielder’s glove used by James Keeler in 1948 when the Lock Haven team defeated St. Petersburg, Fla., 6-5, in the second Little League World Series contest. The glove, a Wilson Ball Hawk 4, was donated to the museum by Torrence Keeler of Lock Haven.

According to information on a “catalog page” included with the exhibit in the museum’s Basics Room, a Ball Hawk glove is “a large-size model made of full-oiled, good-grade leather.” The flat leather binding is welted and the glove is leather laced. Available for $11.95, the glove is exhibited with a variety of styles and manufacturers with original prices ranging from $4.95 to $11.95.

The vintage exhibit features gloves and mitts that were popular between 1910 and 1960. Although gloves were introduced to baseball in the 1870s, they first were used only to pad the hands of fielders so they could knock down the baseball. The gloves were a piece of leather padding protecting the palm of the hand with holes for the fingers to fit through. Initially those using the gloves were considered “sissies.”

However, by the late 1890s the use of gloves caught on. By comparing the styles of catchers’ mitts, basemen’s mitts and fielders’ gloves in the display, it is evident why they became standard equipment.

Styles changed and padding thickened throughout the years. It still is possible to purchase a glove from a department store for less than $20, although a custom-designed model can cost hundreds of dollars today.

Also included in the exhibit are the following:
  • Catcher’s mitt, circa 1930.
  • Catcher’s mitt, Reach Co. Inc., circa 1950, provided by Thomas Gray, Williamsport, Pa.
  • First baseman’s mitt, MacGregor G152, Ferris Fain Model, circa 1955, provided by John Selsam, Lewisburg, Pa.
  • Fielder’s glove, Wilson A200, circa 1952, provided by Robert Besant, Williamsville, N.Y.
  • Amateur baseman’s mitt, c 1914, provided by John Selsam.
  • Fielder’s glove, Spalding Triple Play, circa 1955, provided by Mark Pompeo, Williamsport, Pa.
  • Fielder’s glove, McGregor Gold Smith AG2, circa 1925.
  • Fielder’s glove, Wilson A2190, circa 1948, provided by Clyde Whitman, Hummelstown, Pa.
  • Fielder’s glove, Wilson Co. Inc., circa 1915, Chet Doyle, Williamsport, Pa.
  • Fielder’s glove, J.C. Higgins Co., circa 1927.
  • Fielder’s glove, National Trading Co., circa 1930.

The museum is at 525 Route 15 Highway about two miles south of Williamsport. It is open for its winter hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday; noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Summer hours are from Memorial Day through Labor Day and are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday. The facility is accessible to the disabled.

Rates are $5 for adults; $3 for those 62 and older; $1.50 for children between the ages of 5 and 13. There is no fee for children 4 or younger. Group rates, tours, birthday parties and building rentals are available. For more information, call the museum at 570-326-3607, or click here for more information.