Yesterday's Magazette

3 – Missing Skeeter Webb

SkeeterWebb2


Missing Skeeter Webb

By William S. Easton

Recently, I discarded my old Skeeter Webb baseball glove.

That brought back memories of both its original and last use – some not so fond memories. I recall a time when armed with my properly broken-in mitt, hung on my bicycle handlebars, I’d head out to pick-up games. Later, I’d use it for organized contests, although there was no Little League in our small town.

I considered myself a slick fielding shortstop like Webb. Then I was put to a crucial test in the spring of my high school sophomore year when three of us competed for the vacant third base position. Veteran coach “Connie” would conclude practice by hitting grounders to the infield prospects. He expected a clean stop and an accurate throw to first base.

I was the youngest and last one to have a turn. After what seemed like a hundred tries in the fast approaching darkness, Connie finally gave up in frustration and sent me home. There I was met with a cold supper, and, presumably, warm sympathy from my parents who assuaged my tears.

I just hadn’t been able to master the combination of stopping and throwing. So I quit and the Skeeter Webb model was never used for baseball again.

What was I doing with his model anyway? Although it usually was customary for youngsters to own a glove bearing the endorsement of a favorite player, mine reflected no such admiration. Certainly, as a Yankee fan in rural New York State, I wouldn’t have selected one sponsored by a Detroit Tigers player.

As I recall,, Webb was a “good field/no hit” utility infielder who helped his team win the American League Pennant on the last day of the 1945 season. My Yankees finished fourth. Perhaps this model was the only one available in my price range at the local hardware store – there were no sporting goods stores in those days. It may have cost about ten dollars. Although my dad would usually contribute towards sports equipment that we three boys wanted, some of the money may have come from a paper route or returning glass soda bottles(no aluminum or plastic cans then.)

Later on I did use the mitt for softball. But never again for baseball. By that time the webbing had pulled apart and I had switched positions to first base which didn’t normally demand the combination talent of stopping and throwing. After a while I acquired a new softball glove.

I wondered whatever happened to Skeeter Webb. His glove had brought me mixed results. Later, I wondered how well my thirteen-year-old son’s Buddy Bell glove would serve him at his chosen position – shortstop? I hope I will be as understanding as were my parents if he comes home after a frustrating practice.

Well, I thought, at least Bell can hit.

Stats:

James Laverene “Skeeter” Webb, 1909 -1986

Major League Record – 12 years

Batting average .219; Fielding average .916


*William S. Easton is a retired attorney transported from New York State to Michigan. He says his son is now grown and that he no longer plays softball. He’s had a few stories published and some articles for a Michigan history magazine.

Vol. 36 No. 2 – Yesterday’s Magazette – Spring – 2009

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2 Comments »

  1. Hello Mr. Easton,

    I really enjoyed reading your article and thought I should fill you in on what happened to Skeeter.

    He was my grandfather.

    After retiring from the majors in 1948, he went to work as a traveling salesman and rep for a pipe company in his hometown of Meridian, MS. He spent his weekdays on the road, and his weekends on the golf course. Skeeter was a scratch golfer – and would have made a better PGA player than shortstop.

    Skeeter had four children, and more than a dozen grandchildren.

    I only knew him until I was seven, but he was an amazing guy.

    I came across this article after Googling my “Pappy”, as I called him. I felt a bit sentimental because my grandmother (Skeeter’s wife of 42 years) just passed last week (April 9, 2012).

    Thanks for the article, it was fun to read.

    Best of luck!

    Comment by Joshua Webb Roberts — April 14, 2012 @ 12:17 am | Reply

    • Hi Joshua

      I’m researching a possible television documentary about baseball’s O’Neill brothers.

      Am I right in saying that your grandmother was Steve O’Neill’s daughter?

      Two of the O’Neill brothers Mike and Jack were born 10 miles from my family home in Conamara, Ireland.

      I’m fascinated by their story and wondered if you or any of your family have any stories about the O’Neill brothers.

      Regards

      Aenghus Geoghegan.

      aengeoghegan@hotmail.com

      Comment by Aenghus Geoghegan — March 27, 2013 @ 1:56 pm | Reply


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