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Joseph Monninger
April 16, 1990
For years the springtime ritual of rubbing down my Brooks Robinson-signature glove with neat's-foot oil marked the beginning of my personal baseball season. On some snowy evening in late February or early March, my dad would turn away from his newspaper and say: "Isn't it time to dig out your mitt? We probably should get the leather softened up."
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April 16, 1990

Neat's-foot Oil: A Glove's Best Friend

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"Yeah, I heard that," he said. "I've also heard that some phone company supposedly uses shaving cream on its underground cables to clean them. Me, I used Crisco on my mitt even when I played for the University of Cincinnati."

After I hung up the phone, I spread out a newspaper on the kitchen table and went to work on my old glove. It was dry, and it turned almost orange when I first applied the neat's-foot oil. I kept adding oil until the leather started to yield. It turned brown, then darker brown, like wood accepting stain. I poured a puddle into my palm, pried the wristband back, and slid my fingers inside. My hands were bigger than they had been when I was 17, and my fingertips extended the holes at the very ends of the leather channels. I massaged the leather and felt the palm print made by myself long ago slowly relax and disappear.

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