As the first buds are bursting from the trees in North Texas, I’m already feeling Spring in the air, and with Spring comes baseball! Anxious to hear the crack of the bat, my eight-year-old son and I traveled to the Nokona Baseball Glove Factory in the small town of Nocona, near the Red River, to watch as they produce the only baseball glove still made in America!
Know Before You Go
Tours are offered every Monday and Friday at 10:30am and 1:30pm, with the exception of some holidays. Call and confirm before going.
You can order a glove before the tour, or bring a glove from home to have your name laser-engraved on it.
My son, at 8, was completely intrigued the entire time. Because it is a factory, and some items are hot and potentially unsafe for small hands, I wouldn’t recommend for children much younger than him.
One of my favorite items was the FIRST gloves, little blue and pink gloves that had the baby’s name and date of birth stitched on the inside! Stitching like this is a special order item, and can only be done before the glove is assembled.
Videos About Nokona
Under the impression that the tour started at 10am, we arrived in town a few minutes late, and I was quite relieved to find out that the tour actually began at 10:30, making me….. early. It had to happen eventually.
While we waited, we watched several videos about Nokona Baseball Gloves, includeing an interview from Nolan Ryan, who described his VERY first baseball glove, a Nokona!
During the tour, we saw many very old gloves that had been sent to the factory for repairs.
Nokona is a small factory of only about 20 employees, and during our tour of the factory, we met every one of them. The factory felt like a family, with many having worked there 30 years or more, and our tour guide over 50 years!
A Brief History
Our tour began with a history of Nokona Sporting Equipment, which opened in the 1930’s. If you noticed that the factory’s spelling is different than the town’s spelling of Nocona, it’s because the town had a law against any business using the town’s name.
The town is named after Peta Nocona, the Cherokee chief and father of Quanah Parker. To learn more about Nocona and Quanah Parker, click HERE to read about Old Fort Parker.
Nokona’s First Glove
Inside the display cases, there were a progression of old baseball and softball gloves, but none so old as this one. One of their very first gloves ever produced, these gloves were used by baseball players not so much to catch the ball, but as to just knock it out of the air, then scoop it up and throw it!
If you love the history of baseball, check out the Texas Vintage Base Ball League. There are seven Vintage Base Ball teams which play at special events around the state. Click HERE to visit their website.
The Farmers Branch Mustangs hold an annual Vintage Baseball Festival each April, click HERE to visit their facebook page for more information.
Leather and Lace
Our first stop inside the factory was to see all the leather that is used to make the gloves! Nokona uses cow, buffalo and even kangaroo leather, and we were able to feel samples of all 3! They also have different color leather laces for the gloves for special orders!
While photos aren’t allowed back in the factory during the tour, they did allow us a few. We watched as they cut the glove pieces, stamped them and sewed the pieces together. This glove has just been turned right-side out and stretched!
Some of the final products, awaiting 2 of the quality control inspections!
After our tour, we spent time looking around the store. In addition to new gloves, they sell shirts, hats and other Nokona items! If you purchase a new glove, pre-made glove at the factory, they can have your name laser-engraved for you!
More to Do in Nocona
After our tour, we had a great time walking around Historic Downtown Nocona! There was much more to see and do, and we had a great time!
Horton Classic Car Museum has the ride of your dreams! Click HERE to visit their website.
Nocona Nights make this small town a happening place. Proclaimed as the Live Music Capital of North Texas, the town comes alive for Nocona Nights at various music venues! Click HERE for more information.
Make a weekend of it at the Red River Station Inn in Historic Downtown Nocona! Click HERE to visit their website.
Nocona has several special events throughout the year, including Mardi Gras Nocona Style! Click HERE for more information.
Justin and Nocona Boots
In 1879, Daddy Joe Justin came to North Texas and began making boots. After his death, his son’s moved to Fort Worth to continue his legacy, known as the Justin Boot Company. His daughter, Enid Justin, stayed in Nocona and also wanted to continue her father’s work, opening the Nocona Boot Company in 1925, which continued to make quality boots in Nocona until they were purchased by Justin Industries, parent company of Justin Boots, in 1981. The Nocona Boot Factory was closed in 1999, but it’s still a great building, just waiting on someone to come make a museum out of it! It appeared one end was used to sell antiques during our visit.
Fengolio is another prominent name in the town of Nocona. Fengolio began making boots after the closing of the factory, and today turn out the James Montague Handmade Boot Line. Click HERE to read more.
Speaking of Fengolio, you’ll have to leave Downtown Nocona for a short drive to Fengolio BBQ, and don’t miss getting a Bowl of Crap. Homemade beans, brisket, sausage, it’s definitely yummier than it’s name! Click HERE to see their facebook page!
Before leaving Nocona, my son and I took a few minutes to hunt down a geocache just a short walk from the Nokona Baseball Glove Factory at the First United Methodist Church. It was a lovely church that we would have overlooked had we not been searching for the geocache. If geocaching is new to you, it’s a fun and free activity, great for all ages! Please read more at geocaching.com, and click HERE to visit their website.
Nokona Baseball Glove Factory
105 Clay Street, Nocona
Click HERE to visit their website.
Click HERE to visit their facebook page.
Click HERE to visit them on twitter.
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