One of my favorite father-son memories of all-time happened on Aug. 31, 1990. Ken Griffey Jr. and Sr. were in the same lineup for Seattle against Kansas City, and they became the first father and son combo to both play, hit and score in the same game. The next month, they would go on to hit back-to-back home runs. Junior would say later: “I got to play with my Dad. That’s the biggest thing to ever happen to me, other than the birth of my children.” Watch this from the MLB.com archives:
Joltin’ Joe breaks through a ceremonial “56” banner after hitting in that many consecutive games. As we saw with Andre Ethier last year, when today’s players reach 30 the watch becomes intense and the questions constant. The 1941 hitting streak remains one of the most unbreakable records in Major League Baseball. That image above is in this Summer of Legends video from MLB Productions, aired last season on MLB Network:
There’s something incredibly nostalgic about a vintage baseball glove. A glove from the 1930s and 1940s looks fairly similar to what we use today, except for the fact fielders’ gloves were yet to feature lacing between the fingers. One thing that’s remained the same is the rich leather used to make the gloves.
That leather inspired Coach when they started out back in 1941, initially specializing in small leather goods like wallets and billfolds. As a nod to that past, Coach has released the Heritage Baseball Billfold Wallet as part of their Baseball Collection.
The limited edition wallets are handcrafted with leather from vintage baseball gloves. Each wallet is numbered and totally unique, typically requiring the leather from 1 1/2 gloves and two to three days to create. Initially, the gloves for the wallets were found on eBay, before Coach found a dealer in the Midwest.
Establish your link with the game’s past by taking a look at the full collection Baseball Collection, available now online at coach.com and select Coach Men’s stores.
Ted Williams provided one of the most memorable moments in All-Star Game history with his walk-off home run in the 1941 Midsummer Classic in Detroit:
It was a time of real grass, real heroes and real magic.
Drumbeats of war were growing louder in the distance, several months ahead of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. But in the Summer of 1941, there was baseball and there was everything else. Boys played it all over and everyone watched, literally in their own world. Jimmy Dorsey, Glenn Miller and Billie Holliday were on the radio, but so were Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Bob Feller.
Entering 2012, Major League Baseball’s last seven seasons were the most-attended seasons in the game’s history. We are coming off an epic year that featured a mind-blowing regular season finish and then a postseason capped off by a World Series for the ages, featuring maybe the best Fall Classic performance (Albert Pujols’ three-homer game) and maybe the best Fall Classic Game (6).
You can’t really compare a season like that to the one that happened 70 summers before it, but you can hope to carry on the legacy, to remember that past and why people loved it and why they love the National Pastime today. We always wonder if someone could hit in 56 consecutive games again, like Joltin’ Joe did in ’41. We always wonder if someone finally will bat .400 again, like Teddy Ballgame did then.
We wonder if our modern memories will be as strong to fans later this century as those memories of the Summer of ’41 were to those who were handed them proudly from generation to generation. They were days of innocence, days no one could ever replicate again. The world changed on one day of infamy. For years to come, America was at war, its citizens rallying around a common cause of war.
Baseball became a matter of relief, played to remind us of what once was and could be again. Then came peace, baseball carried on, leading the way through societal change from the breaking of the color barrier to labor and free agency to mass broadcasting and one day four MLB.com apps ranking among the top four sports apps in something called iTunes. Baseball has carried on the spirit of 1941.
You see it in the fundamental elements of the game, pitcher throwing to batter, and batter whiffing or driving one over the wall. You see it in a company like Coach, because it was founded in that same year of 1941 as a men’s accessories brand that had baseball at its core. Yes, the brand known to so many for its popular handbags originally produced items such as wallets, attaché cases and bedroom slippers that were inspired by the feel of a much-loved, broken-in baseball glove.
Those same durable tanned leather as sporting goods houses made mitts for those baseball heroes. Today, Coach offers The Baseball Collection, and if you take a good look at that Heritage Baseball Billfold Wallet, you can feel the connection to the Summer of ’41. It takes about 1 1/2 gloves to make one of those wallets, and most of the vintage gloves came from the ’30s and ’40s. It is not just a feeling, but a tangible link to that halcyon past, a fun reminder of how baseball connects us now.
There was never a summer in baseball like 1941, and we go out to the ballpark today wondering if this might be the year that creates the same kind of magic that lasts a lifetime. We can only remember and hope.