My curiosity was aroused the other day when I was reviewing a Lou Brock game-used glove. The thought suddenly occurred to me that there were probably more Brock game gloves in existence than one could find retail endorsed models.
Though he was a MacGregor Glove Company endorser and used the MacGregor gloves for the most part, glove collectors haven’t found any gloves bearing his endorsement from that company. MacGregor in the last half of the 20th century was a transitional “multi-sport corporation” with its origin beginning with the Goldsmith Sporting Goods Company of Cincinnati dating to the turn of the century. It was a large and well respected glove maker for 50 years under that name.
Most glove collectors, like myself are not sure if MacGregor ever put “any” Brock name on one of its retail models, though here’s a genuine Hall of Fame player and deservedly so, breaking none other than Ty Cobb’s career record for stolen bases. He held the single season record for stolen bases and his career theft mark until Rickey Henderson snapped both records. Other achievements include more than 3,000 hits and 1,600 runs scored. An easy selection for the hallowed Hall.
Now, what happened at MacGregor that resulted in it never produced a store model glove for him? One reason might be that MacGregor had also signed glove contracts with three iconic Hall of Famers: Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson plus adding Roberto Clemente for a short time during Brock’s playing career. Still it seems one of the strangest omissions for a famous player in baseball history.
It seems like a rare happenstance though. Others come to mind for being on this endorsed glove omission list but they are few and far between. Virtually all the glove companies besides MacGregor hesitated on signing contracts with black stars or producing gloves with their names, after Jackie Robinson broke the color-barrier. The Cincinnati based MacGregor, formerly MacGregor-Goldsmith, hit the ground running so to speak, only a few years after talented black players began making names for themselves, like hauling Mays, Aaron, Robinson into their stable of stars. Conversely the famous Jackie Robinson, after his color-line breakthrough, signed with a smaller brand, Dubow but only a rare few of these have ever shown up. After his career was finished, Robinson did team with Caprico, a glove import company, for his name to be stamped on its gloves that were distributed largely in the 1960s.
Glove companies were also apparently reluctant to sign and make gloves for Jewish players: Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax the most prominent of those that come to mind. Greenberg did have a “non-endorsed” block letter retail glove and Koufax a post-career, import model with his signature.
Now there are some other curious names of omitted stars that we ponder about especially in the endorsed glove hay-day those being of Hall of Famer Bob Lemon, whose name did appear on a few imports but apparently never inked with one of the major glove companies. You could add in other standout stars like Allie Reynolds, Ed Lopat or those of Hall of Famers Hoyt Wilhelm and Hal Newhouser to the list of those ignored though their names have shown up on non-endorsed gloves.
It makes one shake the head in speculation as to why only a few but prominent players were left out of the glove market this way.