The month of July will forever be linked with the game of baseball. The classic saying, “as American as baseball and apple pie” comes to mind as families across the United States flock to stadiums to watch firework spectaculars on our nation’s birthday. July offers baseball fans All Star games, the MLB Futures Game, short season league baseball and many other reasons to spend a warm summer night cheering on our favorite teams and players.
Looking back through our own history, we are amazed at how many important Vinci milestones occurred in the month of July and we wanted to take some time to reflect and share some of the highlights with you.
July 26th, 1942: Benjamin Vinci is awarded the Purple Heart.
Anyone familiar with our story knows that every Vinci glove features the signature of Benjamin Vinci, a true American hero. Benjamin was gravely wounded on the morning of December 7, 1941 in the infamous attacks on Pearl Harbor. After nearly 6 months of treatment (and with a 50 caliber bullet permanently lodged near his heart) Benjamin did what any patriot would do, he returned to active duty. On July 26th, he was awarded the Purple Heart for his valor on the battlefield. Almost sixty years later on July 27, 2001, US Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton (from Benjamin’s Home State of New York) led the US Senate in honoring his bravery. It was with a promise to Benjamin Vinci that “One day he would see his name in the big leagues” that Vinci (the glove) was born.
July 13th, 2008: Wilkin Ramirez Plays in the MLB Futures Game
On July 11th of this year, those who tuned in to watch the US take on the World at the MLB Futures Game were treated to a closing camera shot of a pair of Vinci Sport Sunglasses in the dugout of the World Team. Those glasses belonged to outfielder Wilkin Ramirez, and 2010 marked his second trip to the future. In 2008, Wilkin was a member of the World Team that won in a 3 -0 shut out over the US. We were very proud that Wilkin chose to wear a PJV16 Fielder’s glove and he logged a base hit with his #5 Vinci Batting Gloves and Vinci Baseball Bat (you can purchase the signed bat here). It was a great moment for Vinci to celebrate the future of a valued friend as well as our own future in the big leagues. Wilkin would go on to play for the Detroit Tigers where (while wearing his #5 Vinci Batting Gloves) he would become the first Tiger since Reggie Sanders in 1974 to hit a homerun on his first at bat.
July, 19th 2008: Vladimir Nunez, the first player to wear Vinci in the Majors
Just 6 days after Ramirez hinted at Vinci’s big league future, the future arrived. On July 19th, Vladimir Nunez, a right-handed relief pitcher was called up to the Atlanta Braves. Based in Richmond, Virginia, Vinci had developed a friendship with Nunez earlier that year. In April he began wearing Vinci gloves for the minor league AAA Braves affiliate team, the Richmond Braves. When Nunez was called up that July, he took his Vinci MV3 glove with him. It was a magical evening for us at Vinci as we watched Vladimir kiss his glove for luck when he stepped to the mound.
July 22nd, 2009: Carlos Torres makes his Major League Debut
Vinci had officially broken the major league barrier in July 2008. There were several other Vinci sightings in the year that followed, but no list of Vinci milestones would be complete without mentioning one of our favorite players, the 2-time Minor League All Star and only the 9th player ever to be named Minor League Pitcher of the week 3 times in a single season. Carlos Torres, the 26-year-old right-handed relief pitcher brought his Vinci MV30 along when he was called up to the Chicago White Sox. He made his debut July 22nd against the Tampa Bay Rays where he pitched six strong innings to record a quality start.
July 14, 2010: Carlos Torres named starting Pitcher for MiLB All Stars
One year later, Torres continues to have one of the most decorated careers in AAA Charlotte Knights history and on July 14th, he was again named the starting pitcher for the International League All-Stars. He pitched 2 innings of the nationally televised game while wearing his Vinci MV30.
July, 2010: Elmer Dessens lights up the NY Mets Bullpen
And finally, we thought we’d tell one of our favorite current stories. Elmer Dessens has been called a lot of things in his 17-year professional baseball career. But recently he’s been bucking the odds by being called the “savior” of the New York Mets bullpen crisis. At 40 years old, this veteran of 9 major league franchises landed in New York (the place where it all started for Vinci). And he has been racking up the wins ever since.
En route to a recent win (alright this one officially happened on the last day of June, but we’ve been talking about it a lot this July) Elmer Dessens’ Vinci MV30 glove caught the attention of New York baseball legend (and Mets analyst) Keith Hernandez. You might remember Hernandez from his World Series winning career with the Mets and the Cardinals, from his 3 best-selling books, or from his many guest appearances on Seinfeld. But for those of us at Vinci, Hernandez will now be remembered as the New York legend that chose a nationally televised game to plug our glove. During the fifth inning, Hernandez saw Elmer’s glove and asked the viewing audience, “What’s that label on his Glove? Vinci? Like Leonardo Da Vinci? I’ve heard of that glove company.”
To hear a New York baseball legend talk about a glove that bears the signature of a New York war hero just 2 short years after Vinci gloves broke into the Big Leagues was surreal to say the least. And it’s just another reason that, here at Vinci, July will always be among our favorite times of year.