The Last Baseball-Glove Maker in America

A baseball glove is basically an addition to your hand that allows
you to trap the ball between the thumb and the index finger in such a fashion that you can make a great catch and throw it back. From the time I started playing baseball I’ve been in love with the game. Something very basic about it. It’s not about fads or this or that, it’s about a rich heritage that goes back you know, over a hundred years. (dramatic music) (bell rings) (tense music) I’m Rob Storey. I’m the Executive Vice
President of Nokona Ball Gloves. We make world-class ball
gloves here in Nokona, Texas. To build a glove you’re
going to have to have the right leather. We use a number of different leathers, such as kangaroo, cowhide,
buffalo, even some Cayman. When that comes in to us, we
begin the grading process. We’re looking for any
blemishes, scars, defects. With a classic walnut glove,
we’re going to be using a leather that we call Walnut Crunch. It’s very durable, but
very easy to break in. A lot of players like that
because they can go out and play catch immediately. We introduced some cutting
dies, or what we call clickers. Basically big cookie cutters. We gotta take that leather
and cut it into about 25 different pieces. We have somewhere about 2000 cutting dies. While the leather’s still flat, do what we call hot-stamping. We’ll take other pieces
to the embroidery station. Where we have fixed and
single-head machines that can pump out four
to 500 gloves a day. Putting all that information
somewhere on the leather so that the customer is educated. Once that’s done, then
it’s time to transition over to the stitching department. Two or three of the pieces
go a different direction where they’re made into the
web or the pocket of the glove. Another station will
start the interior lining. This is the part that the hand touches. Not only the palm lining,
but the mac fingers, as well as three center pads inside. Start to welt those parts
together while we’re adding the third piece of material in between the seams, setting
the spine to the backs of the fingers of the glove. Really at that point, you begin to see the glove come together. The fingers are finally
married to the front. And it becomes a shell. Once you’ve closed the
glove, it’s inside-out. Literally pushed the leather down, and pushed the inside back to the outside. Then it’s time to start shaping the glove, and we do that through a series of forms that look like giant hands. They’re heated to about
250 degrees Fahrenheit. Pulled around and shaped with a mallet so that all the welting and all the seams are just perfectly aligned. (truck engine starting) Living in a small town like Nokona, Texas is a big part of who I am. I think Nokona Ball Gloves wouldn’t necessarily work somewhere else. It’s about the local people and the pride. The town itself is very much
a part of the final product. I’m a fourth-generation
family member in the company and in the 1960’s, most
baseball glove manufacturers decided to take their
manufacturive offshore. My grandfather, Bob Storey,
didn’t want to do that. He wanted to give
employment to the locals. He made a decision at that point that was very crucial to the long-term history of our company, and that was that we were going to be American-made. Something that’s been a part of Americana for decades and decades but they can’t find anywhere else
now in the United States. There are up to 40
different labor operations that go into making a glove. And so it’s not just stickin’ a piece of leather in a machine. More and more people
are starting to realize just because you can make
it cheaply somewhere else that doesn’t make it good. You’ve gotta put the very best
craftsmanship into the glove. We think our history of
80-plus years of doing that, we’ve learned how to do it. Leather’s one of the most interesting materials known to man. The feel as it firmly
wraps around your hand, the subtle pop as the ball hits it, these characteristic are things that make crafting, and with this
medium, one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. (slow country music) After the forming marry the outside shell with the inside lining. We’re going to be gluing
some parts together. So in the inside liner, take long strips of
tensile-strength laces, and start filling 120 holes in the glove. Cosmoline holds the palm
to the inside of the liner. It’s a very heavy form of petroleum jelly. It looks a lot like peanut butter. It’s a great adhesive. We can open up a glove 10 years later and that stuff’s still sticky inside. First the top fingers, then the bottom perimeter of the glove. And finally the web, which
usually kind of gives the glove it’s character,
into one finalize piece. We will physically beat
the palm of the glove. That softens the glove,
shapes the leather, take out all the wrinkles,
and makes it just right. We take hot petroleum jelly and lanolin and we spray that onto the glove so that we have a very
uniform layer of oil that starts to moisturize the leather. Just like skin, if left to its own design, will start to dry out and crack and flake. We bag, we tag the glove, seal it up and get it ready to go out to the market. (tense music) Even though it’s evolved
through the years, it’s still very very
personal to each player that uses the glove. I think to our customers,
Nokona Ball Gloves represent a product that
is rich in heritage, at the top level of the game, and hopefully lasts for decades to come.

100 thoughts on “The Last Baseball-Glove Maker in America

  1. My mamaw and papaw live in nocona and every year like 2 or 3 times we will go up there and I’ve never seen that glove place.

  2. $350 for a baseball glove just because it's made in America lol no thanks. I'll take the Chinese version that cost $150 dollars less.

  3. It's funny. Been a baseball dance I was kid. Collected baseball cards. Had a bunch of different gloves but have never heard of this glove until I watched this video. I can't be the only one.

  4. I have currently 4 Nokona gloves and they are the best!!!!! Wilson and Rawlings are alright, but Nokona is the real deal. Nokona lasts forever. My Nokona glove has kangaroo leather.

  5. I have to admit, I bought a Nokona for my son. In my opinion, it was unnecessarily heavy and stiff. Even after treatment, and a little bit of oil, it became even heavier. It never truly did break in. For the money, I would go after a Rawlings heart of the hide glove, or a Wilson A2000. They are far lighter, and break in after a few uses. It was too heavy and hard for an infield glove, but wasn't big enough for use in the outfield. It was built more like a saddle than a glove. And we're not talking little league. He gave it a 3rd of a season in travel baseball and it still was too heavy and stiff.

  6. I bought my Nokona catchers mitt , when i was in high school . It cost about $ 300.00 .I played with it throughout high school and still use it today to play catch with my teenage kids . Wilson,Mizuno, Spaulding ,A2000 and Rawlings cannot touch the quality of these gloves and i knew the story of Nokona back then and it was a no-brainer on who to pick . Almost 30 years later and the glove still looks and feels great and i will pass it on to them when i get too old to throw . This is quality done right and it shows in every piece of it , made in America , to Nokona thank you !

  7. Look….you could pay $50.00 for a box of Titleist Pro V1 golf balls, but since you suck at golf it wouldn’t make sense to do that. Same with this. I bet your ass can barely run to first base let alone run down a line drive in center field. Take it from me, go to Big 5 sporting goods for all your “athletic” needs. You will still be supporting American jobs from the store Manager, to the sales clerk, to the warehouse delivery driver.

  8. I have an older Nokona glove but it was broken in wrong and wasn’t stored properly which sucked,I have now ordered a new 44 mitt that will be here in 2 days!

  9. My grandpa that died used to own the Rawling's baseball company but when he died it got sold to a different family.😢

  10. First off love this glove. Own one my self. This marketing video is trash. Why would the pitcher have a 14inch outfield glove?????

  11. love this updated version from the "How it's Made" bit years ago. But at the same time, legit lol'd around @6:58 looks like they hired actors. Kid not only hit a cockshot into the ground (happens all the time.) but when he threw his bat straight backwards…

    In all my years playing i don't think i've ever witnessed a bat thrown backwards after making contact. Atleast he's keeping his hands loose?

  12. I honestly didn’t know about Nokona, and I’m not sure why. After watching this I’ll never buy another brand.

  13. As much as I would love to support an American business, you got me fucked up if you think I'm paying $200 for a baseball glove

  14. Got a used nokona glove 30+ years ago.its still very usable, but I don't play anymore so I keep it in a safe place

  15. I always wanted one but could never afford it. I love my Wilson and it has been through 25 years of playing/coaching. It took that long to get broke in to be even close to one of these. If I could go back I would have spent $300 on the glove instead of a bat.

  16. I never seen this baseball glove brands before but I love they make those in America. I support every American brands made here at home.not in China or somewhere else.anybody out there that play baseball they should use are own brands made at home. Even the MLB league

  17. so 7:00 the goofy batter just killed the catcher with his terrible bat control which is why you must have edited the video to show a whole different swing to start his run.

  18. The earliest mention of baseball in the U.S was a 1791 Pittsfield, Massachusetts, ordinance banning the playing of baseball within 80 yards (73 m) of the town meeting house.[1]

  19. I could do this in China for a fifth the cost. Way too much care and time put into these gloves. Way to many choices in leather and styles. Use cheap leather and keep it simple. After it manufactured sell it with a high end logo.

  20. I'm an American, late 40s, who played baseball for 12 years and have never seen or even heard of Nakona gloves

  21. Personally I’ve never been a fan of Nacona and I think there’s a reason why you don’t see many pro players wearing them, but this was a great video and a great story. Glad I watched.

  22. You should have called it Smith or Jones. Nokona sounds Asian. I didn't know that you guys and gals are still around. I hope you stay in the US of A.

  23. I have an old Nokona Catchers mitt from the 70's, and it's one great pillow, man. I love catching with it. I'd love a new one, but I am a man of simple means. $290 just isn't really feasible for me and my family. Great product, though. Probably dime-for-dime the best you can possibly get. Play ball!

  24. My wife isn't the sentimental type. I think she'd throw out our wedding album if she got tired of it cluttering up the shelf. But her Nokona glove was her most cherished possession. Her parents sacrificed to give it to her and she used it throughout high school and college ball. Then her younger sister "borrowed" it, and it disappeared. That was about 12 years ago, and it still upsets her. Amazing gloves. Amazing tradition. Hope they stay American made.

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