The Gloves of Tony O

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The Gloves of Tony O

Postby mplsgloves » July 15th, 2022, 6:39 am

In honor of his Hall of Fame induction next week, I thought I would share a special subset of my personal vintage glove collection – the endorsed MacGregor gloves of Tony Oliva.

When I first got hooked on fixing up vintage gloves, I decided since I’m a big Minnesota Twins fan, I would try to find and rehab as many Minnesota Twins gloves as I could. And within the world of Twins gloves, I became especially fond of Tony Oliva gloves and found it impossible not to scoop up every one I found. Before long I had started a quest to find an example of every glove model he had endorsed. For each one, I put to use all the great info I’ve learned from this forum to clean, condition, relace, and repair them to the best of my abilities. Now that I believe I have tracked almost every glove to carry his signature, I’d like to share the before and after pics of my labors of love.

First up is one of my absolute favorites – the Made in the USA MacGregor 4 model. I have not seen an exact catalog listing but I would assume it was sold in 1966 since it celebrates the four MacGregor endorsers who won the batting titles and MVPs awards of each league in 1965. Tony Oliva was the AL batting crown winner for the second time in his first two seasons (no one else has ever done to start their career) and his fellow Twins teammate and Cuban countryman Zoilo Versalles was the AL MVP winner. Not coincidentally, the Twins had the most historic season of their early years in Minnesota taking the AL pennant and coming up just short to Koufax and the Dodgers in an exciting seven-game World Series. The Tony and Zoilo signatures share a crowded pocket of this glove with two all-time greats from the NL, Roberto Clemente and Willie Mays. What a cool glove!

I like this one so much, I have two examples I’ve fixed up over the years. Here they are:
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Re: The Gloves of Tony O

Postby mplsgloves » July 15th, 2022, 6:44 am

Next, are the MacGregor 777 models. According to the source book this model was sold in 1967-69 and was a Japan import. Ihave two different versions. One has the triple crown web which was also used in a Frank Robinson model to celebrate his 1966 Triple Crown. I found this one in really nice shape so it just needed some light cleaning and conditioning and now looks almost brand new.
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The other 777 model has what I call the “pinwheel” web used widely by MacGregor in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I mixed things up a bit and used black lace when I relaced this one.
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Re: The Gloves of Tony O

Postby mplsgloves » July 15th, 2022, 6:46 am

This MacGregor SGO554 Made in the USA model doesn’t show up in any catalogs I’ve seen but I would guess its from ~1967-68 when MacGregor was still making some gloves in the USA and the Brunswick “B” was still being used as part of the logo. It’s a smaller glove with cheaper construction. Probably a less expensive youth model.
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Re: The Gloves of Tony O

Postby mplsgloves » July 15th, 2022, 6:51 am

Here are the MacGregor G97 models. Again I have two versions of this Japanese import model probably just from different years. Both carry the Brunswick B on the cloth wrist patch but only one has the B on the heel label. No catalog listings for this one either but late 60’s/early 70’s seems a safe guess.
Version 1
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Version 2
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Re: The Gloves of Tony O

Postby mplsgloves » July 15th, 2022, 6:58 am

Here are a couple nearly identical gloves: the Macgregor GTO Professional Model and the MacGregor GMPI model. No exact timing on these but probably early 70s. Both of these had a lot of dark oily grime to remove and needed a lot of lace. I know others have commented/lamented on the decline of Macgregor glove quality with the Goldsmith to Brunswick transition and some questionable glove design choices such as this perhaps overzealous amount of lace in the pocket design.

GTO
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GMPI
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Re: The Gloves of Tony O

Postby mplsgloves » July 15th, 2022, 7:02 am

This next one is special to me because this MacGregor 933 Autograph Model is the same model that my dad had when I was learning to play baseball as a kid in the 80s. So it was always the big, adult glove I aspired to grow into. He told me he bought his 933 in 1971 during his first year of college for playing intramural softball. Of course, he still has it to this day. I would fix it up for him but he's always kept it in good shape so there's really no need.

The 933 pictured here was found on ebay and turned out to be one of my very best restorations. Everything about the cleaning, conditioning, web repair and relacing came out really great.
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Re: The Gloves of Tony O

Postby mplsgloves » July 15th, 2022, 7:04 am

The Macgregor T55 looks similar to the 933 but its actually a cheaper model with a simpler lace pattern and the dreaded plastic/vinyl piping. This specimen didn’t see much action in its day so it was an easy cleaning and conditioning job to make it look nice and fresh. Interestingly, the T55, 933, and 777 all have a similar type of “pinwheel” web design but each version is subtly different as the designers tweaked the design over the years.
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Re: The Gloves of Tony O

Postby mplsgloves » July 15th, 2022, 7:08 am

This colorful one is the MacGregor 856G Champion model. In the early 70s there were a lot of brightly colored gloves put out by the major glove makers. Rawlings had some iconic red, white, and blue gloves and MacGregor put out some blue gloves. The main ones I’ve seen are from the usual big MacGregor names of Willie Mays and Hank Aaron but one day this Tony Oliva glove popped up and I had to jump on it. After 50 years the original blue dye on these gloves usually morphs into a dark green color which actually looks pretty nice considering it’s a product of dye decomposition. As I was cleaning this glove I actually stumbled upon a technique of using isopropyl alcohol to pull some dye from intact darker areas of the glove (like under the wrist strap and between the fingers) and transfer it to areas where the dye had been mostly worn away. It helped give a more even color to the finished project. Unfortunately the original gold stamping was almost entirely worn away so the Tony Oliva signature is kind of faint.
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Re: The Gloves of Tony O

Postby mplsgloves » July 15th, 2022, 7:10 am

This Macgregor MK9 Autograph model appears in the 1974 catalog when Tony’s knees were a wreck but the advent of the DH enabled him to extend his career a few more years. I believe it is the most recent/least vintage glove in this collection and it is also the most minty glove in my collection. I actually prefer the challenge of fixing up dirty and worn gloves but I made an exception when I ran across this nearly new glove. The pristine gold stampings in the pocket tell me this glove probably never caught many balls (which is kind of sad but great for collectors who prefer top condition). All I did was clean off some dust and freshen up the leather with some conditioner.
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Re: The Gloves of Tony O

Postby mplsgloves » July 15th, 2022, 7:16 am

The final glove I will share is the one I am missing and for which I am still on the hunt. It’s a MacGregor GTO Personal Model that was Made in the USA (unlike the import GTO model pictured earlier in this thread). These picture comes from an old auction I found on Worthpoint (a very useful vintage glove research tool). If anyone can help me track down this model (although preferably right hand throw), I would be forever grateful.
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I would also be very interested to hear about any other Tony Oliva models or variations that anyone else might have.
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Re: The Gloves of Tony O

Postby cbrandis » July 17th, 2022, 9:34 pm

now that's a labor of love. nice glove work. on the Oliva glove side, nothing I can add to that display. well done!!
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