On opening day in 2010, then-President Barack Obama threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals game. When he threw it, he was using a well-worn left-handed baseball glove that was borrowed from a White House aide. The Boston Globe recently published a story about the glove and its final resting place, and it’s not somewhere anyone would guess.
It’s not at the Barack Obama Presidential Library, and it’s not at the Baseball Hall of Fame, either. The glove now lives in a glass case at Newton North High School in Newton, Massachusetts.
To understand why the glove resides in a normal, unassuming high school in Massachusetts (that’s completely unrelated to Barack Obama), you need to know the owner of the glove. His name is Herbie Ziskend, and in 2010 he was an aide in Barack Obama’s White House who came to the rescue when the president needed emergency baseball equipment. Years before he lent the leader of the free world his baseball glove, Ziskend played baseball at Newton North High School. Ziskend’s love of baseball endured through the years, and it was a well-known fact among his colleagues at the White House.
That’s why Ziskend received a phone call on that fateful day. The president didn’t have a baseball glove, and needed one fast. Ziskend obliged and lent the president his glove, which he’d spent years oiling, conditioning and storing under his mattress. He watched Obama use it to throw out the first pitch — on the 100th anniversary of president William Howard Taft starting the tradition of presidential first pitches — and then the glove was returned to him.
After the glove was back with Ziskend, he actually used it in a few softball games. But it didn’t take long for him to decide that the glove was too important to use in softball games anymore. It had been used by a president, after all. In the end, after rejecting the Obama Library and Cooperstown as possible destinations for the glove, he decided it should be displayed by the school where he played baseball: Newton North High School.
It seems like an inauspicious place for a presidential artifact to be displayed, but it’s actually perfect. Presidents are untouchable authority figures, and having a glove on display that the president used, that was provided by a graduate of that very high school, is a way to bring the president right into the classroom. Plus, it’s a great way to show that you never know where you — or your stuff — will end up someday.
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