Now I must say that I’m not much of a sports fan, but the next piece – yet another “oldie” – is one of my favorites. I don’t have much to say about the carving itself. It is about 1/4 scale, carved from Basswood (what else?) and finished with 3 or 4 coats of sanding sealer (sanded with 220 between coats) followed by a hard paste wax. I think turned out rather well, even if I do say so myself. But I think that the story behind the carving is kind of interesting, so here goes:
I carved the Ball and Glove for my brother-in-law. I’ll call him “B”. “B” is sort of my opposite number. He has always excelled in sports, basketball and Baseball in particular…me…uhhhh…not so much. Family pressures many years ago denied him the chance to try it for real after the Pittsburgh Pirates scouted him. Would he have made it? We’ll never know for sure, but I think he probably had a pretty good shot at it.
Shoot ahead 35 years or so, his kids are grown and out of the house and the Pirates begin offering a Fantasy Baseball camp where for a not insignificant sum of money you can spend a week in Florida (right before spring training) and get to play real baseball under the tutelage of former Pirate players and coaches. “B” signed up, did quite well and over the course of the next 10 or 11 years got to play in both Three Rivers Stadium (before they tore it down) and PNC Park. He knows, and is known by, more former Pirates than anyone else I know.
Now, getting back to the carving. The number “27” popped up many times in "B's" life. It was part of his street address in several houses that he and my sister lived in, their zip code, phone numbers and probably some other places, too. So it was natural that given the chance to pick the number for his uniform he chose “27”.
“But the base of the carving has a “4” on it”, you say. OK, I’m getting to that. After about his 3rd or 4th season at fantasy camp, “B” switched his number from “27” to “4” in honor of Ralph Kiner famous for, among other things, hitting a home run in Forbes Field that can be seen in the 1951 film, Angels in the Outfield.
As a kid in the ‘50s, “B” spent many a happy Saturday afternoon in the bleachers of Forbes Field in Oakland (also now torn down) as a loyal member of the Knot Hole Club (remember that?). He idealized Ralph Kiner who he still describes as “A Home Run Hitter and a positive role model for other players…and by extension “Knot Holers”, too.”
The Ball and Glove was carved for “B” for his birthday in 2005, soon after he made the number switch.
‘Til next time, keep makin’ chips!