NOCONA, TX (KAUZ) - The Nokona Athletic Goods Company is one of the only ball glove factories in America, and it is located right here in Texoma.
This Nocona business did not start out making sporting goods. It actually made leather billfolds and purses.
However, the depression decreased the need for those items, so in 1934 the business started producing ball gloves, footballs and football helmets.
Rob Storey, the Executive VP of Nokona Athletic Goods, said many people who tour the factory are surprised it takes 45 steps to make a glove, and it all starts with the leather.
"We use steer hide, cowhide, buffalo, and we even use kangaroo skins," said Storey.
Storey said, the first step is picking the right hide, then cutting it and pressing out the different parts of the glove.
Next, the glove is hot stamped with the words "American made."
The glove is then sewn together in a process called welting. This method is done with industrial sewing machines, which are also used to build the glove's pockets.
Craftsman do all the lacing by hand, and adding the final touches are a must,
Like the Nokona logo, spelled with a "K."
Storey said, his grandfather spelled it that way because of trademark issues.
"So, my grandad changed it to a "K" and told everyone that's how the Indians spelled it," said Storey.
The final process of the glove making is the pounding and shaping of the glove, and the finished product will be shipped off all across the world, even to some pro-athletes.
About five to six Major League Baseball players play ball with a Nokona, including Kevin Siegrist, a Cardinals pitcher and Tyler Saladino, a White Sox middle infielder.
Storey adds, about 35 ballplayers at the minor league level use a Nokona too.
Robert Storey, Rob's grandfather, even helped design the first pointed-end football right here in Nocona.
"My grandad came up with the first passing football. Later on that football shape was standardized, and my grandfather was a big part of that in the late thirties," said Storey.
Besides the history, what makes these gloves so special?
Storey said it is the heart and love of the game.
"We're here in America, and we know what the players want. We can get the best hides because the best hides come from Texas and the United States. We feel like we put a little bit extra towards the quality and the labor into the product," said Storey.
At one time Nocona was the leather good center of the Southwest, and Storey said his family is proud to be a part of that.
"We've been very proud to be a part of the community, and we hope that we've done a service to the community. We've had literally thousands of people work for us through the years. That's the biggest thing my granddad was proud of," said Storey.
The Nokona Athletic Goods Company has made about 2.5 million ball gloves over the years, including baseball legend Nolan Ryan's very first glove.
You can step up to the plate and tour the Nokona Athletic Goods Company yourself.