The Baseball Lover’s Leatherworks

Mj 618_348_the baseball lovers leatherworks

Jon Brong is more than a baseball fan. The Los Angeles-based designer is a fan of the hardball aesthetic, specifically the graceful monograms and thick leather mitts that defined the game during its so-called “Golden Age,” when Roger Hornsby reliably batted .400 and Gabby Harnett hit a “Homer in the Gloamin’.” Fielder’s Choice Goods, Brong’s passion project, reincarnates vintage gloves as wallets and belts, allowing anyone who shares Brong’s passion to feel (and smell) that distinctively beaten-in, well-loved leather.

“I go to a lot of local swap meets and estate sales looking for gloves,” says Brong. “I also have a pretty good street team that will picture-message me if they see gloves at an event I’m not at.”

Brong wants the history of the leather to shine through and, to that end, he features rather than hides the markings left by players and manufacturers. Some wallets have “Nokona” scrawled across them next to the patent numbers common on the heel of older gloves, or the indentations where webbing was once pulled tight. The belts, constructed predominantly from new leather overlaid by glove leather at the buckle and tale, show stains from mud, rain, and neatsfoot oil.

“There is so much good inspiration to pull from the golden age of baseball,” says Brong, who uses a combination of saddle soap and Aussie Leather Conditioner to ensure his antique materials can withstand modern stress. “My guess is that some of the newer stuff will become dated and not have the longevity of appeal that older uniforms have.”

Fielder’s Choice Goods, unlike, say, New Era’s vintage caps, don’t betray a wearer’s allegiance – Brong declines to publicly reveal his own – but evidence a deep appreciation for (and probably nerdiness about) the game. The products, mostly constructed by Brong and a friend, are all one of a kind and sell out quickly, meaning potential customers have to visit his site frequently if they hope to score a conversation piece. Shouldn’t be a problem: Baseball fans know all about collecting. [Wallets and belts from $120;]

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