My Brother's Baseball Mitt: Based on the Catcher in the Rye

February 25, 2008
By Caroline Troughton, Mason, OH

The mitt belongs to my brother, my brother James Castle Stradlater. His initials are etched inside of his glove with a black marker, faded from airlessness and sweat. The initials are hardly legible and small, but they are there in his small loopy handwriting. The mitt itself endures the countless games it is used in, all the while acting as a book, a teacher, a friend.
The mitt is covered in a green ink of many hues. Poems and excerpts from favorite books engulf every inch of the outside, right up to the very finger tips. Its freshest addition in the brightest green is from Emily Dickinson, a poet my oldest brother Drake Bowden tells me, is the greatest war poet to date. The last lines end with a flourish, reading, “Though I than He - May longer live, he longer must - than I - For I have but the power to kill, without – the power to die –”. James likes this one because Drake picked it, despite it being rather depressing.

The oldest inscription is one of James’ proudest, a product from his own mind. He says he likes it because it makes him happy, a vivid symbol of a fond memory. It reads in a crescent-shape, inked along the bottom of the thumb, “That summer night I laughed so hard that I fell off my chair, shaking with excitement.” Only James understands the importance of the memory.
Directly underneath the crescent is a rather rough sketch of what appears to be a duck, if you want to know the truth. James has a fascination with ducks, and is quite a regular visitor of a particular pond in the park. The duck, though sketched long ago, has since been re-traced time and time again by James. James continues to add on to the drawing little by little, and since starting the additions to the drawing include a slew of other ducks, as well as a big round sun on what looks to be a pleasant summer day.

James’ mitt, the exterior almost green in its entirety, is nicely broken in, a good glove by baseball standards. The mitt is carefully creased in all the right places, all the bends made to perfectly fit James’ left hand. The mitt is well cared for, and James can be frequently seen polishing it as his most prized possession. Whenever James plays his favorite sport on a warm summer day, a glimmer can be seen bouncing off his polished hand as he reaches towards the golden sun for the ball. The mitt always plays its part in the catch, never letting James down.

As I sit and look at the detailed baseball mitt, I add an inscription of my own, fitting it in a small space between an excerpt from The Great Gatsby and a line from a poet I have never heard of. The whole mitt is filled with lines from people I do not know, as James is a very intelligent person and all. But I write to James about something I do know, trying to carefully print my own scrawl into his neat glove. I do not want to disturb anything. It is a memory of my own, a day filled with golf that stopped abruptly with the presence of James’ red, show-stopping hair. It was a day I will never forget; a vivid, happy time. That day, I am almost positive those ducks that James loved were swimming happily in the clear water, underneath the fantastic sun.

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