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Sports Then and Now



The Pocket: A Story About Life and Baseball 2

Posted on January 16, 2010 by Rojo Grande

It was summer, in the late 1950s. I was a young kid about to enter the “Sandblasters”, an intermediate baseball league, just a step below Little League.

My old hand-me-down ball glove was feeling it’s age, so I was saving my money for a new one. The fact that all my friends were sporting new gloves may have fueled my motives as well…

Finally the day arrived when I had enough cash to plunk down $8.95 at the Montgomery Wards store and buy my very own mitt. I didn’t care that it was a Hawthorne, Wards’ economy “house brand”.

It had a great new-leather smell and it was a Stan Musial signature model.

After the initial thrill began to wear off, I noticed it was rather stiff and felt awkward in my hand. It had no “pocket”, like my old glove.

A pocket is important in a baseball mitt. It is the very heart of the glove—a vague, but tangible “sweet spot” inside the webbing, where every hit or thrown ball would ideally be captured.

In the mind of a yet unspoiled and innocent lad, the pocket held a certain mystique—a magnetic attraction to any spherical horsehide object in motion.

My older brother told me how I could quickly form a pocket in my new glove: oil the mitt generously with goose grease, place a ball in the web of the glove, then close the glove around the ball and tie it tightly with a rawhide shoelace.

For some yet unknown reason, it was also important to place the bundle under my pillow and sleep on it. Read the rest of this entry →

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    • Paul Warfield: The Perfect Receiver
      December 10, 2018 | 3:36 pm

      Warfield-DolphinsThe Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was perfection personified as a wide receiver during his NFL career.

      Known for his fluid movement, grace and jumping ability during his 13 year NFL career, Paul Warfield was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and key performer for the Miami Dolphins during their 17-0 campaign in 1972.

      Because the role of the wide receiver has changed so much and today’s star receivers get the ball thrown to them so many more times than in the pre-1978 era, Warfield is often overlooked when discussing all-time greats.

      But, think about this. Warfield averaged 20.1 yards per catch for his career (427 receptions, 8,565 yards) and 19.9% of his receptions went for touchdowns (85). By comparison, Julio Jones has averaged 15.5 yards per catch for his career and a touchdown in 6.9% of his receptions (46 TDs in 669 catches). Antonio Brown averages 13.4 ypc and a TD in 8.7% (70 of 804) of his receptions. Terrell Owens averaged 14.8 ypc and a TD in 14.2% of his receptions. Even Jerry Rice, considered the greatest receiver of all-time, averaged only 14.8 ypc and a TD in 12.7% of his catches.

      Read more »

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