Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Charlie Waitt's Glove

Albert Spalding wrote in America's National Game that the "first glove I ever saw on the hand of a ball player in a game was worn by Charles C. Waite, in Boston, in 1875. He had come from New Haven and was playing at first base. The glove worn by him was of flesh color, with a large, round opening in the back...I asked Waite about his glove. He confessed that he was a bit ashamed to wear it, but had it on to save his hand. He also admitted that he had chosen a color as inconspicuous as possible, because he didn't care to attract attention. He added that the opening on the back was for purpose of ventilation."

Waitt, at the time, was playing with the St. Louis Brown Stockings and was a backup outfielder and first baseman. If you do a bit an internet search for him, you're going to find several sites that state that Waitt was the first player to ever wear a glove. While I think it's nice that there is some information about Waitt, who really wasn't that good of a baseball player, out there in the ether, it's a shame that most of it's wrong.

There's evidence that baseball players were using gloves as early as 1860 and there is documentation that Doug Allison used a glove in a game in 1870. So not only was Waitt not the first player to ever use a glove (as I've seen stated), he is also really not even one of the first to use a glove (as some have qualified it). The significance of Waitt's glove is that Spalding noticed it, thought about how much damage his own hands were taking, and in 1877 used one himself, leading to the acceptance of the glove as a baseball tool.

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