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Seasons Magazines

A Katz Glove is a Real Catch

Meriden, CT 5/14/2024 - Dave Katz, master glove-smith at home in Meriden, CT. Photo by Stan Godlewski

Written and photographed by Stan Godlewski


Dave Katz works magic when it comes to making a baseball mitt fit like a glove.

It started when he was playing high school ball in Meriden and was thinking about a better way to break in his own new glove. “Something just clicked,” he remembered; he tried something unique and a little screwball. It worked. His method has evolved since then, but that was the birth of the magic that would wind up leading to a lifelong business.

“It wasn’t my life’s dream to break in baseball gloves…but people started liking them…and I just kept doing it.”

Katz won’t tell anyone how he does it. He will say it takes about 10 days to condition a glove, and it doesn’t involve chemicals, a secret sauce or any kind of apparatus.

“It’s all handwork,” Katz said, holding up his hands to show the swollen knuckles and crooked fingers that come from decades of working leather.

Kids have always been a little obsessed with breaking in a new glove. They rub it with neatsfoot oil, put a ball in the webbing and secure the glove over it tightly with rubber bands, or even wrap it in a towel and put it in the oven (on low). Katz advised against the latter unless, “you’re going to eat it.” There are all kinds of amateur methods for breaking in a glove. But if you want it done properly, like anything else, it’s best to leave it to a professional.

In 1975, after graduating from Quinnipiac College where he played baseball, he bought out his brother and two friends who had started a sporting goods store. Besides selling the usual sneakers, tennis rackets and more, he also sold baseball gloves. He thought, “Let me break in a couple of gloves and see if anybody would like them. I was thinking people would think they were used and it wouldn’t go over, but I tried it and it just happened to catch on.”

The gloves were such a success that about 20 years ago he gave up selling anything else.

“You can’t buy a baseball from me, you can’t buy a batting glove from me…nothing…gloves only,” he said. “People have two choices…buy a brand-new glove that I’ve broken in, or you can send or bring me a glove that you bought wherever, and I’ll break it in for you. I take the kids outside and I catch with them, and I don’t let them leave unless they have the right glove.”

Katz suggested that people always visit his website ( and call him before coming to his store in Meriden. His hours change, and he likes to get to know a little about a potential buyer first.

Over the last 10 years or so, Katz has sold as many softball gloves as baseball gloves. Softball parents are just as willing to invest in a good glove as baseball parents.

Katz is 73-years old, tall, muscular and earnest. He seems to long for the days when kids would let the screen door slam behind them as they went to play baseball in an empty lot, or if they were lucky to have a nearby ball field. When kids of 8-12-years old would all play together, maybe using pieces of cardboard for bases and everyone sharing one or two bats all game long, until someone’s mother would yell from a stoop that it was time to come home, clean the dirt off your hands and face, and have supper.

Today, Katz said, baseball isn’t that simple. With the travel leagues and the competitiveness, he regularly gets calls from parents wanting to buy expensive “pro” equipment for their young kids, thinking it’s going to make them better. “That is the exact opposite of what it’s going to do. A professional glove is made with a lot more rigidity and integrity built into them…and a little kid can’t handle it,” Katz stated.

But marketing and the internet have made equipment as much about fashion as function. There are websites for building your own glove, choosing the colors and designing the webbing. Kids want to show up to practice with a fancy new glove. They order the glove based on what it looks like, or a review by another kid on YouTube.

Katz said people fall for the marketing ploy and hype that expensive equipment is going to make their child a star.

“It’s gotten way out of hand, but everybody thinks that if they don’t do it, their kid is going to fall behind,” Katz said, adding that he will tell a parent that they’re paying for an expensive glove that their kid doesn’t need. “But they’ll buy it anyway. And that’s great for me.”

He can’t begin to estimate how many thousands of gloves he’s broken-in over the years. Twelve to 15 gloves arrive in the mail alone from all over the country every week, some from baseball royalty.

Baseball agents Sam and Seth Levinson have sent him their children’s gloves. Major League Baseball pitcher Pat Neshek used the same Katz glove in college and through the minors. He was still using it when playing for the Oakland athletics in 2013 after stints with the Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres and Baltimore Orioles.

The Yankees Jorge Posada loved the glove Katz broke in for him. “I think he used it in the world series,” Katz said.

But the idea of selling a baseball glove that’s already broken in has caught on. Many of the big brands are offering gloves that are supposedly just that. They’re called R2G, and R2G is supposed to mean ready to go. “They’re not…because I have people sending them to me every day,” Katz said.

What’s really the big difference between a glove bought off the shelf and a glove acquired from Dave Katz? Katz takes an ordinary glove and makes it extra-ordinary. He makes it soft and supple. It feels like a part of your body. It has a love of the game and a little bit of magic in there, and that may mean, “They get to actually catch the ball instead of dropping it,” Katz concluded with a laugh.


Stan Godlewski is a photojournalist based in Connecticut. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, The Guardian, People, and Seasons, among others.