POCATELLO — Jared Larsen can travel back in time because he owns the first-baseman glove formerly used by Pocatello native Kent Hadley on Major League Baseball’s New York Yankees in 1960.
Larsen uses his senses, getting the feel of the first-baseman’s glove over his hand and smelling the worn-out fabric to take him to a bygone era.
“I just imagine playing first base,” the 40-year-old Larsen said. “Just getting nervous, getting ready, just getting down and catching ball after ball with this mitt. Just so cool.”
That is the kind of thing that thrills the Pocatello resident and history buff, who’s collected items his entire life, especially baseball cards. He has many historic artifacts — from a signed, game-used Jose Canseco bat to Pocatello High School yearbooks going back to 1922 — but his most cherished items are 49 Hadley-related memorabilia.
“He’s pretty much one of my heroes,” said Larsen, who coaches two of his sons in youth baseball. “He went for his dreams since he was a kid and fulfilled all of his dreams, so I thought that was really cool.”
Hadley played 171 Major League Baseball games over three seasons from 1958 to 1960 before stints in the minor leagues and time in the Japan Pacific League from 1962 to 1967, according to baseball-reference.com.
The 1952 Pocatello High School graduate, who died in 2005, reached his peak in the 1959 season with the Kansas City Athletics, compiling 73 hits, 10 home runs and a .253 batting average. Then in a blockbuster seven-player trade, he was sent to the New York Yankees in December 1959 along with Roger Maris, who was the single-season home-run record holder for 37 years.
After Hadley’s baseball career concluded, he returned to Pocatello and became an insurance salesman.
“He didn’t like to talk about himself. He always liked to talk about Roger Maris, which was one of his friends,” Larsen said. “He didn’t think he was that great. In actuality, I thought he was really great.”
Larsen communicates weekly on Facebook with Hadley’s daughter, Lynn, who confirmed the authenticity on some of his Hadley-related objects and messages him about baseball. He has visited Kent’s gravesite at Mountain View Cemetery several times since he became aware of the former pro ball player and started collecting his stuff in 2013.
“I wish I would’ve been able to talk baseball with him,” Larsen said. “I’ve actually took a couple cards out there and say, ‘Oh, I got this card today.’ I don’t know. It’s weird. I know.”
Larsen’s Kent collection includes 39 baseball cards, an original photo made for a trading card and the aforementioned game-used Reach 259-T Model first-baseman’s glove for left-handed Hadley. Larsen purchased the items on eBay and at local antique stores. They’re stored in a gun safe.
“It’s priceless to me,” Larsen said. “I couldn’t even sell it for millions. I wouldn’t sell it for anything. I can’t get rid of it.”
What’s noticeably missing is a Kent uniform, which Larsen is conscious of.
All that means is the hunt continues.
Best that he follows the lesson of his hero’s life, which Larsen said was: “Stick with your guns. Never give up. If you have a love for something, just go after it.”