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A Close Look at a 1963 MacGregor Sporting Goods Catalog

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D&J Glove Repair honcho Jimmy Lonetti, who was featured here on the blog earlier this month, recently came across this 1963 MacGregor sporting goods catalog. It’s full of interesting stuff, starting with the cover design — love that watercolor painting! Also, as you can see in the top-left corner, MacGregor was part of Brunswick at the time, one of many brands that Brunswick acquired to build what its CEO called “the General Motors of sports.” (You can learn more about Brunswick’s very unusual history — it specialized in making ornately carved bar fixtures and phonographs, among other things, before it got into the bowling and billiards biz — in this article that I wrote 20 years ago for Fortune Small Business magazine.)

Some other notable bits from the catalog:

  • I love the “Adjusta Wrist” typography on this glove (and again, note how the label shows the Brunswick logo superimposed over the MacGregor logo):
  • The catalog features photos of assorted big leaguers who endorsed MacGregor gloves, including Cleveland second baseman Johnny Temple. Look at the size of the sleeve numbers Cleveland was using at the time (you can get a better view here):
  • Another player featured in the catalog: Torre. Not Joe Torre, but his brother — Phillies first baseman Frank Torre. It’s kind of funny to see that big “TORRE” lettering and realize it’s not Joe:
  • I really like these gloves that had little illustrations of ballplayers stamped into the palm area:
  • Lots of interesting bits on this catcher’s mitt, from the thumb/index construction and the “Place Small Finger Thru Loop” notation to the “Made in U.S.A.” stamp:
  • Interesting to see that MacGregor’s bats were “Powerated” — a transparent poach of Louisville Slugger’s “Powerized“:
  • Speaking of bats, here’s something I’ve never seen before: the “Practi-Bat,” which looks like it was more of a paddle than a bat.
  • Sliding pads! I didn’t realize anyone was still wearing these in 1963. When did they finally become extinct? Has anyone reading this ever worn them?
  • Batting helmets — or “head protectors,” as the catalog calls them — were still a fairly new thing in 1963. Lots of interesting details on this page:
  • The back cover features something I don’t think I’ve ever seen before — an old-school catcher’s mask rendered in green!

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Want to see more? The entire catalog is available for your enjoyment here.


 

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Comments (14)

    Does anyone have any idea whether the watercolor on the cover is by Leroy Neiman? It looks like it could be his work.

    Regarding the sliding pads… I distinctly remember my dad wearing these while playing softball in the 70s and 80s.

    I wore different versions of sliding “pads” the entire time I started playing Little League in the 70s, all the way through high school and college throughout the 80’s into the 90’s. It was so common back in the day to play on infields that were of quite different “quality” and firmness that it was routine for me to shred my legs/hips/knees, etc when sliding. They often didn’t help much, but I always wore something, anything, underneath my uniform pants to give me a modicum of an extra layer. By the time I finished in college, these items were less like “pads” and more like shorts that were fairly tight-fitting that covered the length of my thighs. I just HAD to have another layer under my pants.

    I wore sliding shorts playing baseball in the late 90’s. They were basically compression shorts with thicker padding sewn in that covered the side of your glutes down to the top of the outside of your thighs.

    I had a weird mental block about sliding. As Ty mentioned, a lot of the infields I played on weren’t regularly dragged, became sticky mud if they took on any amount of water and even featured occasional pebbles and rocks. Add in the fact I was never very fast and bruised easily, and yeah, I was the opposite of Trea Turner. I always had a somewhat irrational fear I was going to stick a cleat and break an ankle, badly bruise my butt, just stick in the tough ground instead of sliding along it and have no control over what happened after that, all of it. The sliding pad gave me a little — a little — more confidence, as well as a target: “Aim to land here, and let the pad do the work.”

    Aside: I never used a slip-and-slide until I was 39 years old. If anything, trying only convinced me how right I was about being leery of sliding. I went head first and my ribs basically cried out, “Don’t ever do that again.”

    Played school ball in the 70s. Every season, after a rainy day, the coach would take us into the grass part of the practice field, put a base down, make us take our shoes off, and have us practice sliding. Between the wet grass and the lack of shoes, it was like a slip-and-slide. He made us practice sliding on both legs. We were taught that when sliding, we should always have our back to the throw, to prevent getting hit in the face. Slide on right leg when stealing a base, slide on left leg when throw coming from the outfield. Also gave us confidence when sliding.

    Re: Sliding Pads. My son wears sliding shorts under his uniform pants for little league. As mentioned above, they are essentially compression shorts with padding on the side of the legs. However, he is wearing them more so because they have a pocket to hold his cup. I would have loved to have something like that back in the 90’s when I played instead of the jock strap I had to wear.

    That Merlon catchers mask was the “next big thing” when I was playing in the 1970s. My recollection (I didn’t catch much) was that it was total garbage, but for the life of me I can’t remember why. Here’s one on ebay:

    link

    I’m 27 and I remember wearing padded shorts under my baseball pants, but I think they were intended for use by soccer goalies.

    My son wore sliding pads in Little League circa 2010 and continued to wear them through 2018, his senior year in high school He needed something that would protect him from getting torn up by infields when sliding.

    That catalog is pure gold. I’m so old, I used some of that equipment.

    My very first baseball glove was a Spalding. When that wore out, I got a MacGregor. Liked it so much,
    it was the only glove brand that I used throughout Little League and adult softball. (into my 50s!)

    Gloves were such a personal thing to me. (similar to lacrosse sticks) The breaking in process was a labor of love. I used them until they got way too floppy. Always hated when I had to retire an old one, but enjoyed picking out the new one. Probably didn’t have more than 4 in a 30 year period. I liked everything about my MacGregor gloves. Just the perfect feel.

    About 10-15 years after this catalog came out, MacGregor had a “full-back” model that covered the entire back of the hand, except for a hole to poke your index finger through. I thought that so cool.

    Beautiful catalog. The typography with the slanted slogan and player names is also very nice. I used to have a 70s MacGregor glove but i lost it somewhere between moving addresses and it saddens me to some degree to this very day.

    I had a MacGregor glove around that time. It’s actually still in good shape. My daughter used it when she played softball and my granddaughter uses it now.

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