Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jon Huntsman Doesn't Know Baseball

Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, a potential Republican nominee for the 2012 presidential election, recently released this campaign advertisement:

[The YouTube video of this advertisement has been removed. I have had trouble tracking down another copy on the Web, but if one of my readers can, please send along the web address and I'll post it. Thanks.]

Initially, the ad left me quite confused. Why was the obvious reference to former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney accompanied by a sad rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" and B-roll of a baseball glove on the ground? What does Romney's record of job creation have to do with baseball? Did I miss something?

Then I found a few web sites that provided what appears to be the most plausible explanation.

From National Review Online, Jim Geraghty states:
A sad looking baseball mitt — get it? — is used to depict the former Massachusetts governor.
And at Business Insider, Jon Terbush explains:
The ad never mentions Romney by name, though the implication is clear — the ad refers to a former governor of Massachusetts and, whenever mentioned, the camera cuts to images of a dirty, discarded baseball mitt lying in the dust.
Oh, I get it. Mitt Romney = Baseball Mitt. See? They're both Mitts.

There's only one problem. The images in the advertisement don't show a baseball mitt. They show a baseball glove. And that's not nit-picking. That's a cold, hard fact.

The word mitt comes from "mitten," which, according to Webster's Dictionary is "a covering for the hand and wrist having a separate section for the thumb only." Webster's tells us that a glove is "a covering for the hand having separate sections for each of the fingers and the thumb and often extending part way up the arm."

In baseball, the distinction is quite critical, as only catcher's and first baseman are allowed to wear mitts. Yes. It is illegal for any player other than a catcher or first baseman to wear a mitt. Here are the relevant rules:

  • Rule 1.12: "The catcher may wear a leather mitt …"
  • Rule 1.13: "The first baseman may wear a leather glove or mitt …"
  • Rule 1.14: "Each fielder, other than the first baseman or catcher, may use or wear a leather glove."

To recap. This is a mitt:

And this is a mitt:

This is a glove:

If the advertisement had shown a catcher's mitt or first baseman's mitt, there would be no problem. But no. The ad showed a glove … which isn't a mitt.

Jon Huntsman. Want to be our President? Learn about our National Pastime.


  1. Having played college baseball I have often heard a glove referred to as a mitt. Although it may not be technically correct, mitt is still a common slang for glove. I've noticed that this slang is more commonly used in Chicago so perhaps it is more of a regional thing.

  2. Not to nitpick back, but aren't those "mitts" pictured above really "gloves"? Most of the hand coverings for catchers and first basemen have "separate sections for each of the fingers and the thumb." The finger sections are just covered on the pocket side by a single piece of continuous leather. But the finger sections are still separate, no?

  3. It's unlikely Huntsman himself vetted the exact hand covering used in the ad. Even so, he's unlucky that the #1 lefty political pundit is also an expert on baseball.

  4. I'm not an expert on baseball but I noticed the error...I'm also from Chicago...A mitt is a mitt and a glove is a glove...if you're going to use something as a symbol, you should get it right.Any ad that ends with..."I approved this...." whatever, should be on the person running the ad to own up to.

  5. The ad blends Romney's leadership with baseball nostalgia to forge an emotional connection. The song and glove symbolize American spirit, while Romney's job record reflects economic growth. The ad's clever merging of concepts aims to resonate with viewers.