One of my most visceral memories from my youth is my first baseball glove. I can remember vividly the smell of it. I also remember the original color of it, before it darkened with use. Most of all, I remember the feel of the leather. It was soft but seemed rugged at the same time.
I have fond memories of breaking in my new glove with my dad. I had friends who put their gloves under the sofa cushions or baked them in the oven. We opted for oiling it up, putting a baseball into it, and putting it under some books. That did the trick, as that glove got me through tee-ball and Little League.
In thinking back about baseball and my father, that glove stands out. He had taken me to buy it at the sporting goods store, helped me pick it out and then guided me through the breaking-in process. He then taught me how to use it, and he and I would play catch countless times with that glove over the years.
Those are the things that I pictured when I first saw Coach’s Heritage Baseball Double Billfold. Made from actual glove-tanned leather, it looks and feels just like that familiar mitt. It’s a visit to the past for Coach as well. The company was inspired originally by the national pastime when it was founded back in 1941.
I wanted to get my dad something for Father’s Day that not only would mean something to him, but also to me. What better than a billfold, where fond memories would flood over him whenever and wherever he used it.
Ben Jenkins played one season of professional baseball: 41 games for the 1996 Martinsville Phillies of the rookie Appalachian League. One of his teammates that season happened to be Jimmy Rollins, who was just getting his feet wet in pro ball. It will be interesting to see what Rollins remembers of Jenkins, his one-time double-play partner, because while only one of them made it further as a ballplayer, they both wield important bats and “colorful” personalities today.
I was looking at Coach’s Father’s Day collection of gift ideas for men, and was especially inspired by the story of their dip-dyed bats. If you watch the video about the bats there, made by Warstic for Coach, you will see the story of Jenkins, in his own words.
Those words are a great example of this blog’s focus on Heritage Baseball, a father and a son playing catch and then a seed planted that becomes an inspired creativity. The bats are $248 each and would be a pretty cool Father’s Day gift, with several different colors in stock. Here’s what Jenkins had to say about his passion:
“Two things that I’ve always been most passionate about in my life would be baseball and making art for design. As early as I can remember playing catch with my dad, I was also drawing and painting, making things with clay. I was always doing those two things. Even up to the point where, during my early 20s, I was playing Minor League ball and designing in a hotel room.
“I don’t see myself much as an inventor-type designer. I’m more of an improver. I think as I get older I keep getting more and more minimal. It turns out that that creates more meaning. I love simple things, strong authentic design stands the test of time versus things that are overly complex.
“Design is in my blood, it’s not something I’ve decided to do, it’s just something I’ve always felt like I’ve needed to do. It’s kind of a fever type thing, where I get this feeling that: I need to make something, I need to make something, I need to make something. Design becomes like a therapy to getting that out of my system. It’s nice because I end up having made something.
“The designs are simple, bold and strong, and I think that’s what really resonates with people. Baseball is such a mental sport, and hitting a baseball is all about confidence and believing that you can do it. It’s just this feeling of, ‘Hey, this isn’t just a bat, this is my Warstic, this is my bat.’ Where Warstic and Coach really come together and see the world in the same way is that design is about simplicity, and it’s about essential, and it’s about creating something beautiful in the most simple way you can.”
It is Coach’s first collaboration with the Texas-born designer, who was undrafted but given a shot at a baseball dream, one he turned into an opportunity. He turns 39 in August. His is a limited edition collaboration of classic craftsmanship and modern style, and a good Father’s Day idea. Maybe he can get Jimmy Rollins to swing one at least in BP.
Here is the video of the bats’ story, in Jenkins’ words: