The Jackson glove could be a standout for eager collectors. "Anything connected with baseball is selling nowadays," says Ralph Horton, former publisher of The Sporting Goods Dealer, a trade magazine published by The Sporting News. "I don't think it will be a deal where he'll sell thousands of them, but he'll sell some."
Storey isn't interested in selling thousands of nostalgia gloves, Nocona makes about 20,000 gloves a year, mostly for softball, and could handle only a few hundred more. "We sell almost all the gloves we can make," says Storey.
So far Phillips orders only five gloves a week from the company. And because there isn't enough demand to make new dies, which would cost $2,000 to $4,000 per set, Nocona veteran Ab Lemons has to make do with scissors. It takes him two or three days to cut out the 28 to 30 pieces of leather used in each glove, which is about 10 times longer than it takes to make a modern baseball or softball glove using dies.
Lemons has worked for Nocona since 1950. Three women employees, all nearing 80, have worked for the firm since the 1930s, and probably sewed some of the original gloves. The factory is a nondescript brick building, 60,000 square feet in area, and all Nokona gloves are stamped AMG: AMERICAN MADE GOODS (most baseball gloves are produced in Asia). The company is small and aims to stay that way.
The Glove Collector catalog, which can be obtained by calling 1-800-729-1808, also includes premium gloves, which are modern models made with exotic materials. The popular Buck-A-Roo model ($135) has a supple kangaroo palm front with a cowhide backing. Then there's the ostrich glove ($425), of which only one has been made. "I have not had a call on it," says Phillips. "Maybe I was slightly off-track on it. If somebody doesn't want an ostrich glove, maybe they want a silk-screen picture of Ebbets Field on a glove. You've got to see what works."