How Baseball Changed My Life
I am often asked how did you get into what you do. What I do came to me through years of trial and error, experimentation and experience, and 100 years of collective know-how.
Since I grew up in the New York metropolitan area, I’m naturally a great baseball fan. For more than fifty years, I have seen the greats and met many from Mickey, Yogi, The Duke, Jackie, Sandy, Willie, Juan, Gil, Tom, Reggie, The Gator, Catfish, Darryl, Doc, Hernandez and Mo to Derek. My personal odyssey began with my first glove. I clearly remember the first time I put on my first glove. There was the distinctive smell and the fresh clean color of smooth tan leather. The glove was stiff and hard to squeeze closed. I was ten years old. I soon found that my glove was unlike any of friends’ gloves. My glove was odd and small and it had only four fingers. It had a wide small pinky and thumb digit, a normal index and a slightly wider middle finger. The solid web was tiny. As I used and broke in the glove, it softened and became flexible. I found out that if I moved my four fingers into the small finger slot, the glove formed a remarkably large pocket. As an infielder, the glove lent itself perfectly to my abilities. Although I am long past my playing days, I still have that glove today. It wasn’t until I began repairing gloves that I discovered that the glove I had as a child was a Playmaker-like model, first developed by Rawlings just after the Second World War. My glove, though, was not manufactured by Rawlings, but was instead made by my families’ company, the Everlast Sporting Goods Manufacturing Company in the early 1950’s. It was a sample model and had no Everlast label. In my mind, I was a better than average softball player, and that glove seemed to enhance my abilities.
I enjoyed playing softball and played until I was relegated to right field oblivion around the time when I turned forty. Somewhere along the way my little Playmaker glove was shelved for a typically larger model. Everlast never produced its “Playmaker” copy, opting instead to produce its own original designs. My father, who was the CEO of Everlast, had a clever idea for a glove design. Since back then, ball glove designs were centered on the player making two-handed catches, primarily in the palm pocket of the glove, my father innovated a foam shock palm pad which would take the sting out of the catch. The Everlast “Field Master” design was somewhat radical and odd looking and unfortunately, it never caught on in the industry. However, his palm pad innovation has become a standard in the glove industry today. Little did I know that my little Everlast sample glove would weigh so heavily in my future career path.
I learned my craft as an assembly line supervisor at Everlast in the Bronx, NY. I supervised sixty craftspeople who assembled striking bags (the small speed bags used for training). At that time we made 8000 bags a week of different sizes and qualities. For ten years, I studied and learned to make every product in the factory. Everlast manufactured everything from boxing gloves to wrestling mats—more than 600 different items. I learned all the machines, materials and techniques.
Although Everlast had long discontinued making baseball gloves by the time I had come to work there, I was still playing baseball and with my experience and know-how I began making minor repairs on my teammates’ gloves. What I observed was that there had been a quality change in the gloves due to imports. I took my ol’ Playmaker glove and as I had done for all the production items I had learned to make, I disassembled it and then put it back together again. I made notes on how it was made, traced and cut patterns then proceeded to make an exact copy. That’s when I realized I could create a business specializing in baseball glove design and repair. That’s when I became John Golomb, The Glove Doctor.