Stuck in the Mitt

By Lloyd Graff

My plan was to write about the machining world. “Nuts and bolts tonight, dad,” Noah nudged me before I left work. “Leave the baseball,” was how he ended the sentence. 

When I got home, I read a little of the Wall Street Journal looking for inspiration. I accidentally fell into a column by Bob Greene, who once wrote brilliantly for the Chicago Tribune. The article was about giving a Rawlings baseball glove to a friend to connect him with his youth and cheer him up. It was a beautiful piece, and I immediately wanted to share it with friends and family. 

I was curious about what happened to Bob Greene, whose work is rarely seen these days. I Googled him and found a long article about the rise and fall of the brilliant Bob Green, my contemporary and a much better writer than I ever could hope to be. 

Greene has evidently had a tough personal life after reaching the top of journalism and writing several acclaimed books. His wife died, he has been accused of being a womanizer, and he is in pain about some of his most acclaimed pieces. An article he wrote after 11 Israelis were killed at the 1972 Olympics is still on many people’s refrigerators. It was a classic piece of personal journalism, the kind I often attempt to emulate. Yet Greene says he wishes he never wrote it.

Greene often writes seemingly heartfelt, sentimental articles, yet later talks about them with cynicism. He writes from his gut, then rejects them as he descends into anger and despair. 

Who is the Bob Greene I love to read? After reading this long article about the man whose writing stands out as something to be cherished and shared, I knew I should share it with others who I knew would also adore it.

I understand the Bob Greene question. Is he being honest in his work? Is he writing from the heart or just to make it publishable? Is Bob Greene an amazing writer or a phony–both? Can somebody be a jerk one day and a saint the next? Do I really care whether Bob Green is a miserable human being if he can write with such humanity that he can move me to tears?

After all, I don’t really know who Bob Greene is as a person. Maybe he has come out of a dark period in his life and he really is the person who gifted the Rawlings baseball glove, and then he bought one for himself. He writes that the glove is being shaped now with neatsfoot oil. 

We all go through tough periods in our lives and doubt our own sincerity. Bob Greene, I love your writing. I have loved it for 40 years. I’m going to buy a friend a mitt, too. Thank you so much for your 500 wonderful words.

Question: Do you care if someone is a jerk if they do great work?

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4 thoughts on “Stuck in the Mitt

  1. Jeff Smith

    People are complex. We all have both good and evil in us. One of the hardest things to deal with in life is guilt. When you feel guilty about something it eats at your soul and colors completely unrelated areas of your life. It makes you feel unworthy in every area, even areas where you really are outstanding.
    The wonderful thing about Jesus Christ is that he can remove all of that guilt. He already knows about it and died on a cross to pay for it. All you have to do is ask him and He has the authority to give you complete forgiveness for all that you are guilty of, and it can free you. Best way to deal with guilt that I know of.

  2. Al

    Being a jerk tends to cancel out the greatness of ones work… Maybe OK short term but long term being a jerk and doing great work is not too likely….

  3. Joe Leslein

    No. Perfect example, President Trump. I told my family during his term- yes he’s an a-hole, precisely the a-hole we need. Very simply, actions speak louder than words. I’d rather have the bluster pompousness doing great things as opposed to a common swamp creature trying to appease everyone and mucking up the works.


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