The Ace of Lace

My old pal with a lot of wear, eager for an overhaul.

For the past 25 summers, I’ve played some form of baseball. And while the balls and bats changed from t-ball to baseball to beer-league softball, with the occasional game of wiffle ball in between, I’ve been using the same glove (or mitt) since I was 13…and it was beginning to show. My reliable USA-made Rawlings “Gold Glove Series” Pro 1000-H infielder’s glove, was in tatters. But instead of tossing it out this season, in favor of a newer, fancier model (with a tacky velcro strap!), I decided to have it restored.

Hell, I figured if someone could make my broken down, bench-made brogues look like new, then why not my ball glove? It turns out, there is a guy in Lynbrook, NY (“a small village on Long Island, barely 15 miles from Ebbets Field and 20 miles or so from the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium,” according to his web site) that specializes in such a craft. Dick Wilson (no relation), otherwise known as the “Ace of Lace,” has been reviving gloves for nearly 50 years. In his past life, he owned and operated Sportorama (editor’s note: amazing name!), a sporting goods store in nearby Baldwin, NY. But after retiring in 1992, he’s been honing his skills, repairing as many as 30 baseball gloves a month.

Wilson’s process involves first removing all the laces and conditioning the leather with a secret mix of oils and polish to restore the color. He then lets the leather marinate overnight, before he begins the re-lacing, which can take several hours, depending on the type of glove. Carefully threading the leather, he slowly puts the mitt back together again. And before too long, my once-tethered Rawlings had regained its shape and stiffness, looking almost new…ready for the start of another season.

The full re-lacing and conditioning will run you $50. Learn more here.

-Corey Wilson

All done, good as new.

Comments on “The Ace of Lace

    Joe Bon May 18, 2011 @ 9:58 AM:

    Secret mix of oils? No thanks.

    I would NEVER put anything on a leather baseball glove other than something Lanolin based. A lot of oils (specifically mink oil) actively clogs the pores in the leather, which leads to cracking of the leather in the inside of the glove.

    Cameronon May 18, 2011 @ 10:00 AM:

    This is the type of thing that makes this blog work so damn well.

    Michael Williamson May 18, 2011 @ 10:08 AM:

    And that’s what makes horse racing Joe.

    Joe Bon May 18, 2011 @ 10:13 AM:

    Horse Racing?

    jfoxon May 18, 2011 @ 10:15 AM:

    @joe so later apps of mink oil are generally bad… good to know. i overuse i guess then, will have to educate myself further.

    agree, goold ol’ ACL post, & great result.

    Joe Bon May 18, 2011 @ 10:27 AM:

    I would stick with Lexol or Lexol NF. I use Lexol NF on the inside of my glove as it contains a small amount of Neat’s Foot Oil which gives the interior of the glove a tacky feeling.

    It is also good to clean your glove before oiling. Some people use Lexol PH but I strongly prefer a diluted solution of Murphy’s Oil Soap.

    Michael Williamson May 18, 2011 @ 10:31 AM:

    Glad you guys are into this. All credit here is due to Corey Wilson.

    Michaelon May 18, 2011 @ 10:50 AM:

    Thanks for the post.

    billwordon May 18, 2011 @ 11:07 AM:

    joe should be restoring these gloves himself. apparently he knows much more thank dick wilson.

    he said a secret mix. i don’t know how you got mink oil out of that.

    Makagaon May 18, 2011 @ 11:08 AM:

    Great post.
    Glad to hear that you have kept (and kept using) your ol’ glove.

    Have you done a post about the umbrella repair guy in Brooklyn? Apparently he fixes all of the older umbrellas for collectors and dandies in the city.

    Paul Cunninghamon May 18, 2011 @ 12:55 PM:

    Holy smokes, awesome post!
    The Pro1000H is one of the all time great baseball glove designs.
    Quite possibly the single most imitated design out there.
    Ain’t nothing like a USA Made Heart of the Hide Rawlings.
    I have this model glove too and it is by far my favorite among the 3 dozen or so ball gloves in my stable. If you are lucky enough to own one, there really is no option other than to restore it. Good advice Corey!
    By the way, Joe B. knows his shit. Lexol NF is without par for ballgloves.

    pjharvon May 18, 2011 @ 1:00 PM:

    oh man, did you notice how the stitching was so off on the rawlings label?

    Joe Bon May 18, 2011 @ 1:48 PM:

    @billword – Notice how I never said he used mink oil? I was merely mentioning it as an example. My point is that I wouldn’t want anyone putting a “secret mix” on my glove without me knowing what is in it. (As an FYI – mink oil makes your glove dark and shiny, very much like in the picture)

    Secondly, I am not saying I know more than Dick Wilson, but I definitely know how to properly lace the heal of a standard Rawlings pattern (something he erred on – at least in this specific instance)

    doaneon May 18, 2011 @ 2:26 PM:

    Timely post, sick of doing boot lace surgery on my son’s 20 year old glove.

    Jordanon May 18, 2011 @ 3:05 PM:

    On, Mr. Wilson also suggests the use of Lexol.

    jbjoneson May 18, 2011 @ 3:14 PM:

    as a total expert and leading authority in the field of baseball mitt repair, i would never advise anyone to condition a quality mitt using anything but a 50/50 ratio of organic wyoming bison blood and bûcheron native to the loire valley. if you do you are obviously a noob to the tradition and practice of proper mitt maintenance and an affront to baseball and civilization in general.

    VMon May 18, 2011 @ 3:18 PM:

    I don’t know jack about lacing, but I do know how to spell the word heel.

    Brookon May 18, 2011 @ 4:15 PM:

    Having had my office in Lynbrook for 6 years (and living in brooklyn via a reverse commute) I say “Go Lynbrook!” Who knew? Certainly not I.

    Cooperon May 18, 2011 @ 4:20 PM:

    Great post. I bought a new glove last week. I decided to retire the one my dad gave me and start breaking one in for my kid (if I ever have one).

    John Son May 18, 2011 @ 4:48 PM:

    With all due respect to Mr. Wilson, Kenny Jenkins is the man to repair any Rawlings glove.

    Justinon May 18, 2011 @ 8:57 PM:

    Nice tip. All the Hot Glove in the world cannot save my Ozzie Smith pro model any longer.

    omar b.g.l.on May 18, 2011 @ 10:59 PM:

    if you guys are in to this sort of thing be sure to check out this book:

    lots of good stuff for people who love their baseball gloves

    Paul Cunninghamon May 18, 2011 @ 11:11 PM:

    Kenny Jenkins is indeed the man.
    He is a former Rawlings glove craftsman (he no doubt had a hand in the production of the glove featured here). Now independent, Kenny retains a special relationship with Rawlings. He has a stock of Horween Tan Code 55 leather (this is the tannage used in Heart of the Hide/Gold Glove series gloves. He can repair and/or replace any part of a Rawlings glove including the liner. He also has the embroidered patches, so he can even replace those.
    Sorry to geek out on y’all. This is a subject right in my wheel house.

    Joe Bon May 19, 2011 @ 7:28 AM:

    Agreed with everyone who repped Kenny J. He is definitively the man. Also, that is a fantastic book, omar.

    Joe Bon May 19, 2011 @ 8:48 AM:

    Paul, code 55 isn’t used in many of the new Rawlings Gloves unfortunately (except for customs built by Bob C – available through Eastbay and the occasional glove from Don Morton). The leather on the new Rawlings gloves in crap from the Philippines.

    larsd4on May 19, 2011 @ 9:52 AM:

    I’ve wanted a Rawlings glove my whole life. As a lad all we could afford was a Hawthorne from Montgomery Wards. Once I was out of college, I moved up to a MacGregor, but still no Rawlings. As my two boys grew up I made sure they were outfitted with Rawlings. I think they could care less.

    If the old MacGregor wears out, I’ll finally get my wish for the Rawlings…unless I can spring for a Nokona, made in USA.

    Paul Cunninghamon May 19, 2011 @ 10:25 AM:

    Hi Joe B.
    Indeed, very few new gloves use Tan Code 55 anymore.
    what I meant is that Tan Code 55 is the leather used in the old Rawlings gloves like the HOH glove featured in this post.

    pjharvon May 19, 2011 @ 11:51 AM:

    larsd4, i believe you meant “…they couldn’t care less”. sad that high quality beautifully crafted sporting gear can go unappreciated. it the glove fits (pun intended) you should swap you glove with one of theirs.

    Joe Bon May 19, 2011 @ 1:08 PM:

    Paul, IMO the tan code 55 is some of the best leather ever to be used on a glove. Louisville is actually offering some nice horween gloves right now.

    Joe Bon May 19, 2011 @ 1:09 PM:

    lards – if you are interested, all custom Rawlings ordered through Eastbay are made by hand in America. They also have some fantastic leather options.

    Jonathanon May 19, 2011 @ 6:30 PM:

    Many people know Lexol, but not many know about Pecard, which is a small American manufacturer of leather care products and dressings. Josh from Stock Vintage told me about it and said it was better than Lexol for vintage leather, and so I thought of mentioning it here since you love all that “Made in America” stuff, right? :)

    Anyway, Pecard is much thicker than Lexol. An ointment – so you can’t marinate the leather in it. It requires more work. I’ve used both. Do any people here prefer one of them over the other?

    P.S. The only thing I don’t understand about this post is baseball. How about some soccer? ;)

    bykenyanon May 19, 2011 @ 6:41 PM:

    Webbie Award Needed for Content…!


    matthew langleyon May 20, 2011 @ 11:39 AM:

    This (to me) is really what people mean when they talk about quality – the question of weather it makes more sense to throw it away or repair it. I’ve always felt quality can be repaired (for the most part).

    My gloves were always conditioned with neats foot oil – in fact my father would sit with us and we would repair our gloves at the beginning of every season and sometimes during. Gloves can be done at home for the most part – although Michael’s glove clearly needed someone a bit more “craftsmen” to do the work (it looks amazing BTW) one thing we used that we found irreplaceable was a forceps from my mom the nurse. I really made restringing the gloves easier.

    For what it’s worth I started with a Rawlings and bought a Nokona – both were high quality gloves and worth every penny.

    TMHon May 23, 2011 @ 12:16 AM:

    Sportorama. Haven’t thought about that store
    in 30 years. I grew up one town over. Glad to see
    that the he is doing something that he loves.
    I hope that he gets flooded with Mitts. Great post.
    South Shore LI Respekt.

    CZon May 25, 2011 @ 2:36 PM:

    @TMH, my Little League team was sponsored by Sportorama when I was 8. The team was terrible but losing on Sportorama was better than winning on a team named for a local dentist.

    20 years later and I probably still have the hat somewhere.

    TMHon May 27, 2011 @ 12:41 AM:

    @CZ Raynor Glass sponsored us one year.
    Tom Seaver came to our lunch at the Milburn.
    My head us larger now. Hat probably too small.

    beth nelsonon May 29, 2011 @ 12:40 AM:

    oh yeah.
    i can finally send my boys glove somewhere and repair.
    great great post.
    thank you.

    play offs this week…out here in west marin, california.

    Shaun Garciaon May 31, 2011 @ 9:30 PM:

    Where are Rawlings Primo Gloves Made ?

    Pierreon June 2, 2011 @ 4:31 PM:

    Another satisfied customer of Kenny’s. He repaired an early-90s Pro-12 that I still love. I also had a 1000H that I sold a couple of years ago. Just never could get it to break in right. Wearing a Nokona now, which is mostly playing with my son and coaching his team. My trad-bound heart is with Rawlings, but the Nokona is a jewel too, and certainly broke in faster than any other glove I’ve ever used.

    Gregory Heldon June 3, 2011 @ 5:19 PM:

    Shaving Gel. Softens the leather without adding the weight you often get from oils.

    Great post. Thanks.

    CWon June 14, 2011 @ 10:40 PM:

    I have this same glove. Inherited from my dad about 10 years ago. I remember in the late 80’s he broke the web and sent it back to Rawlings specifically to be repaired, instead they sent him a brand new glove. He was so pissed -he never loved the glove again… hence I eventually got it.

    Great post

Comments are closed.