The Kansas Find

Joe and I got to talkin’ about the Nokona Glove Source book he’s putting together and when he included all his Nokona pics he accumulated over the years for comment, the email conversation turned to the largest glove find and it was so much fun and such valuable hobby information, I had to memorialize it somewhere, here, to share with everyone. So, with Joe’s blessing here’s an excerpt from our thread:

TGC – Notice the difference in leathers. I think the Milliken came out of the Kansas find. I’m working on some copy. (See first photo below.)

JD – I remember the Kansas find. Legendary. Who actually found it or brought all those gloves to market?

TGC – Dave Bushing and I had begun tracking rumors of a massive assembly of 1950’s gloves in Kansas as early as 1992. It took us a few more months of snooping to locate the owner of a warehouse where lay stashed 400 of not only unused but unsold gloves and only with shelf and storage wear, with the former owner being Frank Woolf of the Wichita Sporting Goods store. As it turned out Frank had supposedly relinquished his lease on the storage barn where he had put away over 400 ‘overstocked’ gloves among other items that were somewhat obsoleted at somewhat 40 years of age (maybe Mr. Woolf had over bought on these mitts). Some of these ‘puppies’ had trickled down to a giant flea market in Texas as the warehouse owner had put the gloves in a Wichita yard sale. I’d heard rumor of it from one of Doc Hughes salesmen who helped Frank Wolfe clear out his Wichita Sporting Goods closed store. (See second photo below.)

JD – We need to publish this, memorialize it on the site somewhere. This is hobby history, hobby gold! Wichita Sporting Goods? I have two mint ones. I wonder if they came out of the Kansas find. (See third and fourth photos below.)

TGC – Probably. At any rate I got the warehouse owner’s name and phone #. I called him and we set up a meeting for Dave Bushing to meet with him. Dave closed the deal and he and I split the $20,000 cost of the gloves. I met Dave at his home where the gloves had been shipped and we divided them up. Dave shipped my half to me and we began the wild sale. Dick Stump came to Dave’s and said, he’d “just died and went to heaven.” Somewhere I have my list of gloves. The smell of old leather and leather oil filled the room. The names on the gloves sounded like the rosters of mid-1950s All-Star games: Mantle, Musial, Snider (there were a totally of 67 Duke Snider Rawlings models), Mathews, Boyer, Adcock, Avila, most of the gloves were Rawlings or Nokona like Erskine, Carrasquel, Billy Hunter or Don Hoak. We divided up the gloves like we were in a draft room. It took several months to move the some 400 gloves out to buyers who probably numbered in the hundreds at this time. Top of the line personal models also abounded such as Herb Score, Mort Cooper, Musial, Adcock, George McQuinn, perhaps a dozen of these to whet the appetite of collectors desiring the very premium of baseball gloves. (See fifth and sixth photos below.)

JD – I think I got a couple/few gloves that came out of this find. Ron Knuppel, Jr. sold me my favorite one, a mint Sonnett Double Play model in beautiful oxblood red with a hang tag. Was this the biggest find you ever knew of?

TGC – I’m sure it was the biggest find in glove lore. The other biggie was the “Dr. Mace” (remember the Jim Mace glove book?) maybe 50 to 100 gloves sold by memorabilia dealer Lou Lipset among others and I think originated out of Baltimore. Some of these gloves found their way to Texas and John Graham and I discovered some for sale at the giant Texas National in 1990 and owned by a lawyer (Larry Carrouthers) from Fort Worth. I purchased my Eddie Miller MacGregor glove and later a Mel Ott. (I’ll look for pictures).

JD – Yeah, I have Dr. Mace’s book. I have every book on the subject that I know of at least. I got a bunch of the Mace gloves in box from some Hunt auctions. That’s when I fell in love with MacGregor Goldsmith gloves. I bought a number of them mint in the box and they are by far my favorite 40’s models. (See seventh photo below.)

Yes, the Carrouthers worked out of Cooperstown or upstate New York, right? I still have a bunch of their ads. I love the early hobby ads. I kept every one I received. I need to scan those all in. I already put some of the old ads in the Glove Library.

I also remember the name Lou Lipset. He was always featured prominently in the early Beckett Price Guides. He is/was a big card dealer back in the day. I didn’t know he was involved in a glove find. That’s cool.

TGC – About this time, a venerable sporting goods store in San Antonio, Potchernik, was closing and had 30 mint and mint in box gloves including a Mantle, but also included some damaged gloves left in their boxes that self-destructed because of being sealed with wax paper probably combined with the neatsfoot-based glovolium that Rawlings sprayed its gloves with. I think I bought a dozen of these.

JD – I wonder where all these gloves are today and if we could ever attribute any specifically to the Kansas Find.

TGC – I’m sure you and I wonder what became to this several hundred of near spanking-new oldies JD. I feel sure there are a lot of Duke Snider gloves spread about the 50 states as it didn’t take that long to complete our sales from this massive glove find, surprisingly. I held on to less than a dozen over the past near 30 years, the last being a Wichita Sporting Goods glove signed by Allie Reynolds. And who knows when or where another treasure box of gloves like this will ever turn up again? Gloves were meant to be played, to catch and not to sit around.


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