Nocona Athletic Goods Company
208 Walnut Street
Nocona, TX 76255
History and Background of Nokona:
Joe Phillips writes about his visit to Nokona. It was like sitting in at the plantation party in Gone with the Wind or maybe gazing from the grandstand at the “Field of Dreams” while the Black Sox players tried to work out their idled muscle kinks. And, I was gently reminded by the lines in that movie while I dug into a delicious plate of North Texas barbecue: “threshing crews eating at outdoor tables. It continually reminds us of what once was, like an Indian-head penny in a handful of new coins. . . You talk a good dream.” And here I was. . . graciously invited into this magical and charming “Field of Glove-Making Dreams” in former Comanche Indian land at Nocona, Texas. It was a warm August evening, basked in a golden harvest moon, while friends and the Nokona family paid its kindly southern regards to two of their own and two of America’s finest but relatively obscure glove makers, Bobby Storey and Elvin Ray “Ab” Lemons. You see, the pair had just completed fifty years of time-honored employment with Nocona Athletic Goods, the last of the all-American made ball glove company's. The occasion brought echoes of past successes and human contentment, but in Nocona today you still experience much the same American texture of yesterday and perhaps a glimpse into tomorrow as well.
The two stately gentlemen were being honored in a way that could have taken place in the same manner when they first reported for full-time work at Nokona, in 1952, or back even earlier, in 1933 when the company started making sports equipment. During a brief and informal presentation at the celebration, Nokona’s new sales manager called the two glove makers “Legends - because that’s what their ball gloves stood for, American know-how and pride taken in a best-made product.”
A man of few words but a marveled craftsman who could literally conjure a sows ear into a playable baseball mitt, Mr. Lemons got up and fondly recalled the several men he worked with through his half-century and of the training that had been passed along to him from his old bosses.
His counter part and just as talented, Bobby Storey, had filled in at just about every job at Nokona. Bobby, the son of the sporting goods founder, R.E. “Bob” Storey had most recently served as president and now chairman of the board of Nokona. Though past retirement age like Mr. Lemons, he’s now serving at one of his favorite roles, that of ball glove designer.
At a time for employment in this country when five years is considered a long tenure with the same company, Ab and Bobby are not even the first to complete a half-century journey with Nocona Athletics. The now deceased Jewell Brickey, hit that milestone in 1993, after joining the company during World War II. That’s the kind of devotion that employees forge into this glove-making outfit. A devoted and sustained tenure here is not rare. Last year the company advertising, displayed along with Storey and Lemons, three other employees who had garnered 40 years with Nokona, Warren Clary, Bud Meekins, and Melvin Weedin.“
I don’t have to tell you that the one constant through all the years has been baseball”, wrote W.P. Kinsella. And the most constant of ball glove makers has been Nokona, and the men and women there who keep alive the tradition of American craftsmanship of ball glove making. The spirit of glove-making is still alive and well in Nocona, Texas.
Professional Players who use Nokona products:
Nocona Athletic Goods Company is the only major glove maker producing all of its gloves and mitts in the United States. To compete with cheap labor imports, they do not secure endorsements by professional ball players, although pro's do use them. Instead Nokona prefers to put the money into thier gloves, where you want it!
The Nokona Story on video: Video about the company.
Nokona Frequently Asked Questions
Glove Leathers used by Nokona:
A long-standing Nokona favorite, the Banana Tan derives its name from its tone and texture, a smooth yet hardy leather that stands up to play.
This is a heavy-duty leather that has been pre-oiled to produce enough flexibility for a quicker break-in period and provides longer life for the glove.
Used on basemitts, this is a heavier leather in a reddish brown color that was introduced with the Nocona N70 basemitt.
A love affair for some who desire a lightweight highly supple leather that is strong for its weight. It is put into combination with cowhide fronts on many of the Nokona gloves and these are termed Nokona "Buckaroos".
Nocona's latest introduction, the Gusher gives that old time leather feel producing suppleness, strength and sturdiness.
This reliable leather's use dates back many years for Nocona and has been one of our standby leathers, now used primarily in our catchers and first base mitts.
Very similar to the Banana Tan only in a Walnut color this leather gives a pliant yet dependable feel.