Joe Jackson the Player, the Myth, the Glove by Joe Phillips

For most baseball followers, it’s difficult to distinguish the Joe Jackson who starred for Philadelphia, Cleveland, and most notably, Chicago White Sox, AKA the Black Sox, from the mystical Joe Jackson of book and movie fame.

Two movies a year apart: “Eight Men Out” (1988) and “Field Of Dreams” (1989)  produced two distinct views of the South Carolina native Jackson. One: the “real” magnificent-hitting country bumpkin Joe to the Field of Dreams ghostly character, of Shoeless Joe projected by author W. P. Kinsella and in John Sayles’ excellent film.

In reflection though, while we have one Jackson stepping out of a corn field in Dyersville, Iowa, another Joe Jackson, emerged, allegedly to sign a baseball glove contract with Nocona Athletic Goods Company, i.e.– the Nokona Glove Company–in 1941 in Nocona, Texas. This occurred at the end of the depression.

As it eventually turned out, the Nocona “filling station” operator was available for

Nocona owner and operator, R. E. “Bob” Storey to capture the Jackson name and mystique to sell some Nokona ball gloves, though auspiciously with the Jackson endorsed names on them.  Sort of a creative way to make a buck.

Not that this idea of famous name borrowing hadn’t gone on before in baseball with the Curtis Candy company coming up with a “Baby” Ruth candy bar, disclaiming that it had anything to do with the famous Yankee slugger. Besides the name on the candy bar seemed be ok as far as Ruth was concerned.

During the 1930s, the Hutch Sporting Goods Company signed Vince, the first of the DiMaggio brothers to reach the big leagues to a baseball glove contract. Vince would bear the earliest of the famous baseball name, but was not the player that his younger brother, the famous Joe. Joe, “the Yankee Clipper” would become, one of baseball’s most heralded heroes of the 1930s and ‘40s.

When Viince left the major league scene, Hutch simply omitted his first name from its DiMaggio gloves issue a revised one bearing only the last name “DiMaggio” on its gloves and “voila” Hutch had a best seller in the market place.

Today to attempt that sort of project would involve a legal dispute with the famous CMG Management Company which licenses and protects the legal use rights of famous baseball players like Jackson’s to band leader, Glenn Miller.

By 1942 our country had erupted into a full-scale war with Germany and Japan, lasting most of four years, and Nocona earned a government contract to produce ball gloves for servicemen during that period. The Jackson gloves were put on the back-burner until, surprisingly, in the early 1950s about the time Jackson died at his home in Greenville S.C. Nocona again pulled its Jackson signature die-castings out of the bin to burn the “Jackson” signature into some odd-looking base mitts called the “Latch” and the “Squirt.” This lasted through about a two or three year trial period.

For glove collectors the Jackson Nokona ball gloves and mitts have become a highly sought item, especially the shorter run of gloves.

That raises the question of: did the immortal Jackson have a baseball glove endorsement contract during his playing period?  Apparently so, and according to the advertisements of the Draper Maynard Sporting Goods Company, Jackson used the company’s D&M made glove. So, there might be a Joe Jackson D&M game-used glove somewhere, but, If D&M made a retail or store-model gloves glove with his name on it, none have shown in the hands of collectors.

In the early 1990’s my company, “The Glove Collector,” produced with Nocona company’s glove expertise and glove-making skills to sell some replicas of the G42 Nokona Jackson glove. Roughly about 50 or so of these were made and marketed. Some of these were sold to a “Ghost Team” organized by Dyersville locals who needed period gloves to perform for tourists and visitors arriving to the film-site ball-park which was left standing after being specially created for the “Dreams” movie and which was carved out of former corn fields.

Joe Jackson’s gamer glove was accoladed: “a place where triples go to die” a tribute to Jackson’s defensive prowess. The Draper Maynard store sale gloves apparently never came into being. Nocona Ball Glove Company brought the Jackson gloves back to life however by the mid-20th century

Joe Phillips


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