The owner of the catcher’s mitt was born on October 16, 1882 and was named James Francis Wilson. He was called Frank. I never knew him personally because he died before I was born. What I know of him I know from my Dad. Frank was his father and Daddy loved him dearly.
Dad had this to say about his father and baseball.
Until the depression started in 1929, Dad played semi-pro ball for the company he worked for. He was an excellent catcher, and had played with many of the future major league stars. He had progressed up to Triple A Ball with both Beaumont of the Texas League and Milwaukee of the American Association, but was prevented from going on to the majors because of his size; he was only 5’8″ and 152 pounds. He was a better defensive catcher than Mickey Owens, and a better hitter then Wade Killefer, but he was just too small. The then New York Giants did have his contract in perpetuity though.
When cleaning up the house to sell I found a metal box. I had to break the lock to get it open to see what was inside. It contained My Dad’s baseball gloves from the time he was a child until he retired and no longer played. I distributed the other gloves to my brothers and niece but I kept the catcher’s mitt. Dad had very little from his Dad but that mitt traveled around the country with him.
I would have loved to have known my paternal grandfather. In knowing my Dad though I got to know this grandfather. Dad’s sisters said that Dad and his father were very much alike. They had to double check when one walked into the room to see which one it was. They looked and sounded so much alike that it was difficult to tell them apart at first glance.
Dad got his love of sports from his Dad. I got my love of sports from him. Being an only girl I loved to play catch with my Dad. He taught me to throw a baseball and softball as well as a football. When you are an only daughter with a sport’s nut Dad it helps to be a tomboy. To this day I love to watch sports.
Dad took us to many baseball games when we lived in the Bay Area. We cheered on both the Giants and the A’s. We watched football every Sunday. Dad was a huge Raiders fan but he also watched the 49ers.
When I look at that old catcher’s mitt it brings back memories of my Dad. It also connects me to a man I never knew but still love. My Dad loved him dearly and that is good enough for me.