BATS – There were no aluminum bats like they use today, that’s for sure. All we had was wood, solid, hard wood. For our baseball games, we would all bring our bats to the field, allowing anyone to use them. Our bats were from one of two bat making companies: Hillerich and Bradsby or Adirondack. The cool thing about the Hillerich and Bradsby bats were the autographs on the end of them – There was a Nelson Fox bat (he was a second baseman for the White Sox) that had a good, thick handle. Someone had a Hank Aaron bat, and someone brought a Mickey Mantle. I’m sure there were others.
GLOVES – Spalding. Wilson. Rawlings. There were other brands but these were the most common. A kid could go to the hardware store or some other spot and procure a nice glove, stitched with rawhide and made of fine leather. Everyone would oil them up so a nice pocket would form on them. That is, except mine. I don’t know what I did wrong, but mine went pancake-flat – so flat to the point that the guys gave me a good share of guff about it. These gloves, too, had ballplayer autographs in them. My pancake glove was a Bob Allison model. When I replaced that one later, I had a much better shaped glove with the autograph of Brooks Robinson in it. Nice.
Interesting note: good friend and first generation Finn John Jarvi had the coolest glove of all of us. It was from Finland. It was shaped nothing like our American gloves at all. John used it most often as a catcher’s mitt, but it didn’t look like that, either. It was more of a scoop shaped glove with very little padding. I wonder if John still has it.
HATS – All of us had the typical baseball hat, complete with brim and adjustable strap in the back. 90% of us had hats with the TWINS logo on it, being from Minnesota. Then again, there was the one or two who weren’t Twins fans and sported other teams. Most notably, Charlie Smith was a (pardon my language) a Yankee fan, so he had a hat with the despised NY fancy cursive logo. We used no helmets in our own games – those were used only during Peewee and Cadet League games, and most of them were the wrong size.
OTHER EQUIPMENT – PADS, CATCHER’S GEAR AND SO ON – like the helmets, this stuff was not our own property, nor would we have bothered getting our own stuff like this. We used it for leagues and the high school team. So, you can bet it was common practice that in our daily games, we’d show up at home with skinned knees and elbows or some other such injury.
Guess what? We lasted this long anyway.