10 Questions with Joe Phillips - "The Glove Collector"


Joe Phillips is editor and publisher of "The Glove Collector" newsletter, and is recognized as one of the foremost authorities on collecting baseball gloves

1. How did you get started in the baseball glove field?
  If you’ll pardon a pun, at shortstop in Little League where I was not the finest in the field Serious study into baseball gloves began when I took on a marketing/advertising client, Nocona Athletic Goods Company in 1976, where one of the last of the major baseball glove production in this country was taking place
2. When did you start collecting gloves?
  My collection began in the late 1980s when I discovered that others were collecting mainly USA made baseball gloves as antiques, artifacts and for the sheer love of baseball and the gloves and mitts.
3. Can you estimate how many people collect baseball gloves?
We've probably been in contact with several thousand people who have collected gloves in one form or another.
4. Do you have any recommendations for new collectors?
  Begin from a point of interest in the game and equipmentLearn as much as you can about the gloves and how they are collected before you spend a lot of moneyYou will make some mistakes early but this is naturalPower is knowledge in any collectible fieldYou will develop an eye and a feel for what you like as you progress in the field.
5. What is the most valuable glove ever sold?
  I believe it is the game used Lou Gehrig glove that Penny Marshall purchased at auction for $387,000 several years agoSeveral Mickey Mantle game used gloves have also sold in the $100,000 rangeGame used gloves by Major league players are the most expensive and valuableIn "store model" gloves, there are some pre 1900 catchers cutoff finger gloves that would probably sell for more than $10,000 Babe Ruth store model gloves, if the right type, have sold for $5,000-$8,000.
6. We receive a lot of emails from people who say "I've got my fathers old glove....what is it worth?" - are there any rules of thumb to the value of gloves?
  Gloves are generally collected and valued with player-endorsed names on them, so the more important the player the more valuable the glove Thus a Babe Ruth stamped glove will be more valuable than say a glove stamped with an Al Kaline signatureOther types of collectible gloves are valuable such as early 1900s gloves rare desirable gloves of unusual design such as duck-web gloves or perceived rare gloves that might be desired for one reason or another.
7. Do you have a favorite glove collecting story?
  I love the stories where someone finds a glove, then traces the history of the glove and the playerOften this will lead to contact with a retired player where stories about the glove and baseall are often sharedCountless stories of gloves found in attics and basements abound, many of these bringing thousands of dollarsOne fellow recently found a roll of $100 bills stuffed up into the finger of a discarded baseball glove!
8. How would you rate the durability and quality of today's gloves v.sgloves of 30,40 or 50 years ago?
  Durability has been a concern over the past 20 years since feedlot practices have provided the resultant hides for gloves The cattle that furnished these hides have generally not exercised much such as the old range cattle of 50 years ago and beyond, and the stretching of the skin seemed to have made stronger leatherThere has been no proof of this - just a suspected theory One of the great new hides has been that of Buffalo (American Bison) hides where there seems to be great strength and suppleness to the leatherI have one of Nocona’s new Buffalo gloves and love the feel and durability of the leather Leather is measured in weight with the heaviest of the leather going into catchers mitts, then basemitts and finally into fielders glovesThe heavier the leather and the more prime of the leather (from the top and back part of the cow) the more durability will result.
9. If you could own what glove, what would it be?
  I've been asked what is the greatest gloveIt is the glove that makes the catchSimple answer, I like a glove that does best what it’s supposed to do bestI admire aesthetics of gloves too but there’s nothing like putting on a glove that you like and seems like a second attachment to your hand.
10. Tell us about your newsletter.
  I began the newsletter in 1989 as a sort of information flyer on the replica gloves we were making from Nocona, but it soon grew into a hobby communications beacon for the many glove collectors I discovered as we went along It’s hard to believe I’ve now published more than 80 of these for the past 15 years We cover the gamut of collecting from histories and background on glove companies, what gloves famous and not so famous players wore, glove finds, information on the more popular modelsAnything that pertains to a baseball glove, we’ve probably touched on the subject Visit GloveCollector.com for more information, and to sign up for this excellent newsletter.