Baseball Etiquette: Is Wearing A Glove In The Stands Only For Dorks?

SEATTLE: Fans reach for a foul ball during the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Florida Marlins at Safeco Field. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

I remember being fourteen and reading an article in Spin in which a writer made a long, impassioned argument on why he still listened to Rush even though they were the definition of uncool. I read it six times. Rush ... was uncool? But my older brother listened to them! He got me into them! My friends in the Junior Debater's Club liked them too! How could they be uncool?

Turns out that Rush is the antonym of cool*. Doesn't mean that I stopped listening, but eventually I figured out that a significant chunk of the population enjoys poking fun at the band and their fans. Figuring out that something you like is totally dorky is a lesson you learn early in life, whether it's with music, comic books, or flossing.

I thought that by the time I was an adult, the lines weren't so blurry. You knew what was supposed to be cool and uncool, and you could decide as an adult whether or not you give a damn. This all comes up on a baseball website, though, because I was in my late 20s when I realized that a chunk of society laughed at grown men who brought gloves to baseball games.

They laugh at ... us.

I didn't start wearing a glove because I couldn't give up my playing days. I didn't think that six outfielders were going to get injured in one game, and the manager was going to look into the crowd and make eye contact with me. I wore a glove because I don't like getting hit in the face with baseballs. And if you were one of the few dozen people at Candlestick to watch a Tuesday-night game against the Expos, chances are you could get close to the field. I like my teeth. They help me chew.

Then I started noticing stray comments and jabs from people I respected, who hinted that only dorks brought gloves to games. Then the esteemed Jon Bois actually had to ask if bringing a glove to a game is lamer than the wave. The wave isn't lame -- the wave is evil incarnate, something invented by former Soviet scientists who couldn't let the Cold War go. He actually had to ask if the wave was even in the same, uh, ballpark as bringing a glove?

Turns out I'm a dork. More so, even. The worst part is that I didn't even know it. I wear the rest of my nerdery like a merit badge, but with this I was oblivious. Made me feel extra stupid, like I was walking around with my zipper down for two decades.

But when my wife was six months pregnant, we sat down the right-field line of a Giants game, and Mike Cameron tried to kill my wife and unborn child. He shot a line drive into the crowd, and I speared the ball before it could reach my wife, who was armadilloed in her seat. Pregnant women don't armadillo so well. She would have taken the ball in the chops, or worse. My decision to bring the glove saved my family.

Oh, the video evidence maintains that it was a lazy pop fly, and that if I didn't catch the ball, it might have hit the seat next to me. But you weren't there, man. You weren't there. I can still smell the scorched leather and horsehide when I close my eyes.

So now I'm rebelling. The sheepish feeling is gone. I'll continue to bring my glove, thank you. I plan to continue to go for foul balls, and I don't want broken hamate bones and faces to make me think twice. And, really, why is it necessary to even have this conversation? Are we so self-conscious that we have to develop some groupthink, some hive mind that tells people how to enjoy a baseball game? That there are rules about how one should or should not accessorize to enjoy America's Pastime properly?   It seems hyper-judgmental in a situation where passing judgment is completely unnecessary.

Now those ******* dorks who wear jerseys with their own names on them? What is up with those guys?

* I still think that Rush is cool, even if only for stuff like this.

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