Many are the iconic items that may make their way into Barack Obama’s presidential library in Chicago: a pen used to sign the Affordable Care Act; his inaugural speech as the country’s first black president; the photograph of a stoic Obama in the Situation Room as Navy SEALs hunted Osama bin Laden.
But one item that will not be there is Herbie Ziskend’s baseball glove.
It sits in a less august place of honor: a glass case at Newton North High School.
Ziskend, a left-handed Newton native, got the glove from his father when he started to play ball at Bigelow Middle School. He oiled it regularly, slept with it under his mattress occasionally, and used it for games throughout his high school baseball days.
Years later, when he was a young aide in the White House in 2010, Ziskend got a call from Obama’s special assistant and body man, Reggie Love, who knew Ziskend’s love of the game. The president, Love said, needed a lefthanded glove — and quickly.
Obama was soon going to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. — 100 years after President William Howard Taft threw out the first pitch on Opening Day of the Washington Senators’ 1910 season, beginning a storied tradition.
On the pitcher’s mound, Obama put on a Chicago White Sox cap (eliciting boos), slipped on Ziskend’s well-worn Rawlings glove, and wound up.
Ziskend got his glove back and used it to play a softball game a few days after the historic throw.
But later that month, Ziskend and housemates Eric Lesser and Jake Levine — two other young White House officials (and now a Massachusetts state senator and a California lawyer, respectively) — were sitting talking about the pitch.
“Herbie was like, ‘the pre-sident used my glove and we should treat it accordingly,’ ” recalled Levine.
“And it started to take on a life of its own.”
Ziskend said he considered donating it to the Obama library, or perhaps even the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. But after speaking with his one-time Newton North High School baseball coach, he decided his alma mater is where it belonged.
“I’m glad,” Ziskend, 32, said, “that glove is resting at Newton North.”Joshua Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.