DUNEDIN, Fla. – Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has his glove for the season. And a backup.
But he couldn’t resist a peek when the Rawlings Sporting Goods reps came to Blue Jays camp with an array of colourful goodies.
“I just like to see what new gloves they have,” the 38-year-old Dickey admitted. “I mean that’s kind of fun. What kid doesn’t like a new glove?”
Not many Jays, it seems. Most have a number of gloves packed neatly in their lockers stalls.
The Toronto players had their picks of a smorgasbord of Rawlings gloves. The company reps — order books in hand — had some 100, in all colours and styles, neatly arranged across two tables outside the clubhouse.
It was hard to miss the red-orange glove (they call it rorange) or the light orange (dubbed lorange).
“We don’t get a whole lot of those (orders) but they’re fun to talk about at least,” said Mark Kraemer, senior sports marketing and licensing manager for Rawlings, based in St. Louis.
Several players did ask for the hard-to-miss gloves, perhaps more to have than play with.
“I don’t know how many you’ll actually see on the field,” Kraemer acknowledged
Dickey’s gloves last about a year. “And then they get a little too flimsy,” the pitcher added.
He wears a black Pro 504-12JB.
“I like the web,” he said.
Dickey also gets special catcher’s gloves from Rawlings, which he gives to his batterymates.
The bigger glove was designed by former knuckleballer Steve Sparks, who counted Toronto among his nine major league teams.
“But I’ve made tweaks to it to help the catchers,” said Dickey. “I get the feedback for the catchers and then talk to (vice-president, pro baseball) Jim Hughes, who’s one of the guys at Rawlings I deal with. And he makes the adjustments.”
The resulting design is a custom item.
“You can’t go out to Dick’s Sporting Goods and buy that,” Dickey said with a smile.
Kraemer handles the west side of Florida, which includes Toronto, Baltimore, Detroit, Houston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and the Yankees. Rawlings also visits minor-league clubs.
He estimates that Rawlings’ percentage of major league players under contact is in the “upper 40s.”
“Highest of any other brand,” he said.
Kraemer’s mandate is to look after players on contract with Rawlings but he’ll help out others interested in seeing what’s available.
He’s reluctant to talk cost when it comes to gloves for the pros, who can get their names embroidered into the glove and choose a mix of colours in one glove.
But in the stores, a top-of-the-line Primo Series Rawlings glove can go for US$400.