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Washington D.C., 1800

President Jefferson
in the White House

A Duel At Dawn, 1804

The Death of Lord Nelson, 1805

Fulton's First Steamboat Voyage, 1807

"Shanghaied," 1811

"Old Ironsides" Earns its Name, 1812

The British Burn Washington, 1814

Dolley Madison Flees the White House, 1814

The Battle of New Orleans, 1815

The Battle of Waterloo, 1815

Napoleon Exiled to St. Helena, 1815

The Inauguration of
President Andrew
Jackson, 1829

Aboard a Slave Ship, 1829

America's First Steam Locomotive, 1830

A Portrait of America, 1830

Traveling the National Road, 1833

A Slave's Life

Traveling the Erie Canal, 1836

Victoria Becomes Queen, 1837

Escape From Slavery, 1838

A Flogging at Sea, 1839

P.T. Barnum Discovers "Tom Thumb" 1842

Living among the Shakers, 1843

Visit to the "Red Light" District, 1843

The Irish Potato Famine, 1847

Aboard a Whaling Ship, 1850

the Forbidden City
of Mecca, 1853

Life on a Southern Plantation, 1854

Return of a Fugitive Slave, 1854

Charge of the Light Brigade, 1854

Livingstone Discovers Victoria Falls, 1855

Andrew Carnegie Becomes a Capitalist, 1856

Slave Auction, 1859

Good Manners for Young Ladies, 1859

The Trial of Andrew Johnson, 1868

The Ku Klux Klan, 1868

Building the Brooklyn Bridge, 1871

Stanley Finds Livingstone, 1871

The Baseball Glove
Comes to Baseball,

The Death of President
Garfield, 1881

A Portrait of Thomas Edison

College Football, 1884

Opulence in the Gilded Age, 1890

Death of a Child, 1890

Corbett Knocks Out Sullivan, 1892

Hobo, 1894

Leaving Home for the "Promised Land", 1894

America's First Auto Race, 1895

1st to Sail Around the World Alone, 1895

The United States Declares War on Spain, 1898

The Battle of Manila Bay, 1898

The Rough Riders Storm San Juan Hill, 1898

The Baseball Glove

Comes to Baseball, 1875

Baseball developed before the Civil War but did not achieve professional status until the 1870s. The Cincinnati Red Stockings became the first professional team in 1869. However, their life was brief and the team went bankrupt within a year of its founding. In 1871 the National Association of Professional Baseball Players was formed and at its peak, consisted of thirteen teams. Unfortunately it too was plagued by financial difficulties and was abandoned in 1875. The
Sam Barkley
1st Base, Pittsburgh
from a contemporary
baseball card, 1887

following year saw the formation of the National League of Professional Baseball Players (soon shortened to the National League). In 1884 the rival American League was founded and the era of modern professional baseball was begun.

In these early days of baseball, players were expected to take the field without benefit of protective equipment such as a baseball glove or catcher's mask. The pain of the sport was to be endured without complaint. Any effort to mollify the rigors of the game was looked upon as a sissified attempt to demean the sport.

"He confessed that he was a bit ashamed to wear it..."

A.G. Spalding began playing baseball in the 1860s. He joined the Boston Red Stockings in 1871 and moved to the Chicago White Stockings (today's Cubs) in 1876. Spalding was the premier pitcher of his day until the physical strain of continuous pitching took its toll and ruined his throwing arm. He founded a sporting goods company initially specializing in baseball equipment and soon branching out to supplying equipment for all types of sports. He never lost touch with baseball and served as president of the Chicago team and one of baseball's most successful promoters. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in its first year.

In 1911, Spalding wrote of his experiences in early baseball and describes his first introduction to the baseball glove:

"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. Now, I had for a good while felt the need of some sort of hand protection for myself. In those days clubs did not carry an extra carload of pitchers, as now. For several years I had pitched in every game played by the Boston team, and had developed severe bruises on the inside of my left hand. When it is recalled that every ball pitched had to be returned,
Tom Forster
Shortstop, Milwaukee
from a contemporary
baseball card, 1887

and that every swift one coming my way, from infielders, outfielders or hot from the bat, must be caught or stopped, some idea may be gained of the punishment received.

Therefore, 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.

Meanwhile my own hand continued to take its medicine with utmost regularity, occasionally being bored with a warm twister that hurt excruciatingly. Still, it was not until 1877 that I overcame my scruples against joining the 'kid-glove aristocracy' by donning a glove. When I did at last decide to do so, I did not select a flesh-colored glove, but got a black one, and cut out as much of the back as possible to let the air in.

Happily, in my case, the presence of a glove did not call out the ridicule that had greeted Waite. I had been playing so long and had become so well known that the innovation seemed rather to evoke sympathy than hilarity. I found that the glove, thin as it was, helped considerably, and inserted one pad after another until a good deal of relief was afforded. If anyone wore a padded glove before this date I do not know it. The 'pillow mitt' was a later innovation."

    Spalding, Albert G., America's National Game (1911); Wallop, Douglass, Baseball; an Informal History (1969). Ward, Geoffrey C., Baseball: an Illustrated History (1994).

How To Cite This Article:
"The Baseball Glove Comes to Baseball, 1875", EyeWitness to History, (2004).

Despite its obvious benefit, the baseball glove was not adopted as a necessary piece of equipment until 10 years after its introduction.
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