[Editor’s Note: Reader Jim Lonetti and his son Dom — that’s them at right — run a baseball glove-repair operation. Jim has guest-written today’s lead entry, about how to re-lace a glove. Enjoy. — PL]
By Jim Lonetti
Most baseball gloves utilize the same basic lacing patterns, so the same five-step process can be used for re-lacing most of them. Not all repairs will require all five steps, but I found a good example in my inventory that required a full re-lacing; a Rawlings PG10 Rick Burleson-endorsed model. Here’s how to re-lace it.
Step One: The first step is to remove the web. The web is where you will have the most variety of lacing patterns. If a glove has a “T-bar” pattern or the more elaborate “Trap-eze” design, the web can be a little more involved, but the web on this glove has a fairly simple pattern. I entirely remove the web, including the “loops” on top of the web (which are part of a continuous lace that starts at the pinky finger), with a basic wire cutter. I also remove all the finger laces at this time:
I utilize lacing from www.tanners.com/”>Tanners, which is affiliated with Rawlings. Since many of the gloves I work on are vintage models, I have Tanners custom-cut 3/8”-wide lacing for me. (To me nothing looks worse than a nice vintage glove re-laced with the newer, wider lacing.) Before using the lace, I condition it for ease of lacing with a little Pecard Glove Conditioner. I highly advise against using neatsfoot oil or similar products. They will cause the leather to become heavy and floppy and over time will also cause the pores of the leather to clog and the leather fibers to “cross-link.” This is what has happened when you see an old glove with leather that has become hard and shiny. Pecard is great because you can apply it with your fingers and then just wipe off the access.
From Tanners I also obtain lacing needles, which have a threaded opening at the end that allows a lace to be threaded in securely. The web lacing starts at the back, base of the glove and continues until the top of the web is reached. Then I switch to a tool with a handle, since the small needle will not feed the lace all the way through the tunnel of the web. The handled tool is inserted through the web tunnel without the lace, and then the lace is attached and pulled through. The lacing is completed back down the other side of the web and ends at the back, base of the glove where it started:
Step Two: Next the fingers are laced back together. This starts at the pinky finger and continues across the other fingers until you reach the web. From here the lace starts at the loops on the top of the web and eventually passes through the thumb. This completes the web and finger lacing:
Step Three: Now it gets a little tricky. All the heel lacing needs to be removed to access the “lifeline” lacing (more on this in a second). Once the heel and life line lacing are removed, the whole interior of the glove can be opened up:
This is the point of the process at which many players will elect to add or remove inner padding to better suit their preferences. At this time I am also able to replace or repair any of the interior lining that has become worn. The sweat from your hand is the worst thing for the leather inside your glove. If your glove is all torn and the padding exposed, that is a result of the salt from your sweat. It is just as important to clean and condition the inside of your glove as it is the outside.
The lifeline lace starts at the heel on the thumb side. I always try to use the thinnest laces I have for the lifeline, because you don’t want the lacing to be too bulky in this area. The lacing proceeds to the hinge area and back up and ends between the pinky and ring finger of the glove:
Step Four: The heel is now laced back together. A knot is not used at the finish; instead, the lace is pulled through the previous loops to cinch it down. The lifeline and heel lacing are now complete:
Step Five: The lacing at the pinky and thumb is all that is left to do. These laces are misunderstood, in my opinion. The purpose of these laces is to make the thumb and pinky either flared in (tight lacing) or flared out (loose lacing). The practice of many glove manufacturers is to put plastic inserts in the thumb and pinky as artificial stiffeners. I always remove these plastic inserts and rely on the lacing itself for how I want the thumb and pinky to feel. Both the pinky and the thumb follow the same basic pattern:
The glove is now totally re-laced! The final task is to tie all the required knot (use nice square knots, never a “granny”-style knot) and fully condition the glove with the Pecard conditioner.
In addition, let’s also talk about how to break in a glove. There are many myths and shortcuts out there, and most of them are bad for your new glove in the long run. First of all, never buy a glove that claims to be “pre-broken-in.” These gloves utilize thinner, cheaper leathers and sometimes have oils injected into the leathers to speed up the break-in process, all of which means the glove will not have a very long lifespan. A good, quality glove will be stiff and require some thorough breaking in.
Never put a glove in an oven or microwave. The microwave can cause the metal grommets to pop. Nor should you get the glove wet. Just some steady pounding with a ball mallet and some conditioner applied in the hinged areas is all that should be done. The old practice of putting the glove with a ball in the pocket under your mattress is also a good idea.
Want to know more about gloves? A great book on baseball gloves and their care and history is Glove Affairs. One story from the book: Every spring Derek Jeter starts out with a new glove and just plays with it. By the time the season starts the glove is ready. Simple as that.
All-Star helmet update: Yesterday I mentioned that I had reason to believe Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale (shown at right) had worn a Pirates helmet in the 1962 All-Star Game, but I didn’t have any visual evidence yet. Now I have a semi-confirmation.
First, there were two All-Star Games in 1962, and I should have specified which one I was referring to. It was the one played in Washington on July 10. Drysdale batted once, in the top of the third, against Jim Bunning. (He didn’t play in the other 1962 ASG, which was played later in the month in Chicago.)
Reader Bruce Menard did some digging and found these wire photos from that one plate appearance. Although we can’t see the front logo, the helmet definitely appears darker than Drysdale’s blue undersleeves and blue stirrups. The helmet also looks flocked, as was the case with Pirates helmets at the time.
I’m pretty convinced, although I still want to see a front-view shot.
Meanwhile, two readers provided other possibilities to investigate:
• James O’Hare says he remembers two helmet mix-ups from the 1969 ASG: Reggie Jackson in an Orioles helmet and Steve Carlton, who was then with the Cardinals, in a Phillies helmet. If true, both of these would foreshadow the players’ future team affiliations. If anyone has access to the game video and wants to go searching, Carlton batted twice in this game (top of the second and third), while Reggie batted three times (bottom of the first, third, and fifth).
• And then there’s this, from Russ Yurk:
Back in 1994 I was working with the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association in Pittsburgh, and one of my coworkers worked in the visitors’ clubhouse at Three Rivers Stadium. Apparently Frank Thomas forgot to bring his helmet to the 1994 ASG [which was played at Three Rivers], so my coworker took a blank Pirates helmet and used an Xacto knife to cut the Sox logo out of white athletic tape. Hebrought the helmet into the office the next day, and it was an impressive effort. With the helmet colors the same and the logo very close, it most likely went unnoticed that night and over the years. I’ve looked for a close-up image online but have been unsuccessful.
This isn’t quite the same thing as our other examples, because Thomas was wearing, at least from a visual standpoint, his own team’s helmet. But it’s still of interest. If anyone has access to the video, the Big Hurt came to the plate three times in that game (top of the first, fourth, and sixth).
Show & Tell update: Objects, stories, and participants from the most recent edition of Show & Tell are now available on the S&T website. Enjoy.
Uni Watch News Ticker: A few late-breaking All-Star Game items: (1) The camera caught Royals reliever Greg Holland out in the bullpen, where he was stretching out the elastic cuff on his right pant leg. In order to do this, he hiked up the pant leg, thereby revealing that he was wearing plain white crew socks. (2) Gavin Robey notes that Chisox pitcher Chris Sale was wearing a blue undershirt. (3) Max Scherzer’s belt was rotated off-center. (4) At one point the broadcasters referred to Jays pitcher Steve Delabar’s elbow surgery, and the camera showed a close-up of his scar. Or at least the broadcasters said it was his scar. But as Dave Rakowski points out, it looks like he might have gotten a tattoo of baseball stitches over the surgical scar. (5) Brendan Slattery notes that the swooshes on Robinson Cano’s shoes were two different colors. … Gizmodo has published a really nice piece on the design evolution of baseball gloves, bats, and balls (from Christopher LaHaye). … Chris Creamer has posted a really, really good piece on how certain MLB uniforms correlate with on-field success, or lack thereof. Among the revelations: The Marlins are the only team not to have worn traditional road grays at any point this season; the Braves are 11-1 in their cream alternates; and the Jays are3-15 in their road grays (from Josh Claywell). … A Florida high school has put together an absurdly overblown uni-unveiling video. “The new duds were donated by one of their own — Trent Richardson, now with the Browns,” says Ryan Bohannon. … This is pretty awesome: Every single pitch from the All-Star Game broken down into one infographic (big thanks to Lose Remerswaal). … Reprinted from yesterday’s comments: Papiss Cissé has pulled out over Newcastle United’s training camp due to a conflict over the team’s jersey sponsor. … Here’s a good look at an old Lowe & Campbell uniform catalog (from Karen McBurnie). … Andrew Talansky, the highest-placed American in the Tour de France, has been wearing kinesio tape with an argyle-ish pattern (from Anthony Nuccio). … Attendance at sports halls of fame is dropping (from Tommy Turner). … New athletics logo/branding for the University of New Orleans (from Ben Melancon). … Don’t eat any athletic gold snow: The Predators have dyed their ice yellow for some sort of fanfest event. “I mean, what could possibly go wrong?” asks Phil. … Chelsea wore Thai numerals for a recent friendly match. The odd thing is that the Thai team wore Western numerals (from Michael Orr). … Metta World Peace will wear No. 51 with the Knicks as a shout-out to his father (from Robert Silverman). … Also from Robert: Small uniform discussion about halfway through this Q&A with new Suns coach Jeff Hornacek. Just search on the word “uniform.” … We’ve shown these before, but once more can’t hurt: 100-year-old baseball sock garters! (Big thanks to Jon Solomonson.) … “My wife and I went up to Pittsburgh to see the Pirates/Phils game on July 4,” says Scott Palmer. “I snapped a photo of the scoreboard after the game was over, and realized I may have something unique — notice the names of the winning pitcher (Cole Hamels) and losing pitcher (Gerrit Cole). I’m wondering if this has ever happened before, where the last names of the pitchers getting a decision form the full name of the winning pitcher (or losing pitcher for that matter)?” … Turns out Fox manipulated the crowd response to Neil Diamond’s song during the ASG. … Interesting quote from one of the New Girl’s coworkers: “I have never bought or worn Nike ever! ’Cause there was a moment in my life when it was a choice, a social statement, in my head at least. Like, the Beastie Boys wore Adidas, and indie boys wore Adidas, and hip-hop guys wore Nike. It was culturally political. It was more of a pop cultural battleground in my head. You’re one or the other. I used to be very into that kind of thing…’80s, early ’90s.” … What’s better than a ballplayer in a gorgeous old-school jacket? A ballplayer in a gorgeous old-school jacket holding two lion cubs! That’s Nap Lajoie, circa 1907 (from David Brown). … Here’s a guide to the new season’s EPL kits (from Chris Bisbee). … Here’s a video explaining the thinking behind the Korea Baseball Organization’s logo (from Dan Kurtz). … Schutt — the football helmet folks — posted a Facebook photo showing an Oregon-like helmet, supposedly to be worn by “some lucky team in Canada.” Word I hear is that the team in question is the Carleton University Ravens. … University of Wisconsin Platteville is letting fans choose the helmet for their first game of the 2013 season (from Olin Skattum). … I’ve known for years that the Washington Huskies used to award purple helmets, instead of their usual gold, to outstanding defensive players, but I’m not sure I’d ever seen a photo of that until Dan Drutis sent me this 1970 photo showing Washington players with gold and purple helmets. … New football uniforms for Columbia (from Rob Turning). … Good Detroit-oriented uni info — including the explanation for Isiah Thomas’s 1987 FNOB — on this Q&A page (from B. Palmer). … The Kansas City T-Bones wore special jerseys for Kansas City Zoo night. I like that sleeve patch! (From Alan Poff.) … This is pretty good: a video showing a day in the life of Target Field (from Josh VanKlompenburg).