This is an article from the Oct. 8, 2007 issue
A FOUR-TIME GOLD GLOVE winner, Lofton believes in being prepared. "I have four or five gloves, and I use two or three a year," he says. "It depends how many get wrecked when it rains." How does he get his leather into game shape? "I oil them, then wrap them in a sanitary sock. And I keep a ball in the glove," he says. Lofton (below, sliding) uses the same Rawlings model he's used throughout his 16-year career. "A long time ago I tried two gloves. One was too long. I tried the shorter one and said, This is it." Though Lofton concedes he would let a teammate borrow his glove "in an emergency," he's careful how he treats his money maker. "I set it down pocket side up or pocket side down but never on its side," he says. "That flattens it out."
THIS IS IN STARK CONTRAST to the mitt management of Lofton's outfield teammate Grady Sizemore, who doesn't have a glove he swears by—"I change models all the time," he says—and has no method for breaking one in. ("I just play catch.") And unlike Lofton, Sizemore doesn't sweat moisture. "It got wet with champagne during the [division title] celebration," he says. "I'm still using it."
HE'S KNOWN MORE FOR his bat—remember that 26-game hitting streak this year?—but Blake keeps third base, outfield and first base gloves in his locker. He has played all three positions extensively in the majors, and he treats all his mitts the same. "To break in a glove, I dunk it in warm water, spray some leather softener on it, then play catch with it," he says. "I rub a little saddle soap on the outside when it gets dirty."
BLAKE, WHO USES MIZUNO MODELS and says he never switches gloves during the season, got an early leather-care lesson from his father, Joe, who played minor league ball in the Yankees' system. "When I was six or seven, one of my older brothers was using my father's glove and left it outside at his friend's house," Blake recalls. "My brother got his butt kicked for that. My dad got fired up—that's when I realized that a glove has a certain value." It may also help explain why, to this day, Blake is careful about whom he'll lend his glove to. "If a coach wants to play catch with it, fine," he says. "But I don't want anybody picking it up and bending the fingers."
The Pop Culture Grid
|How do sports stars fit in?||Person whose brain you're dying to pick||The thing you're most vain about||Most prized possession||It's 2 a.m., and I'm hungry. I'm eating...||My biggest superstition|
|KYLE KENDRICK Phillies P||Nolan Ryan||My hair||My car (Mercedes S430)||A Pizza Pocket||Going to the mound I put my right foot on the second dugout stair|
|MATT SCHAUB Texans QB||President Bush||Making my shoes match my clothes||My college diploma||Potato chips||Keeping a routine|
|WILLIE PARKER Steelers RB||My future wife (no prospects)||How I'm perceived||My Super Bowl ring||Breakfast at Eat 'n Park (chain)||The night before games I read the Bible and my playbook|
|JOSH BARFIELD Indians 2B||Teammate Ryan Garko||My eyebrows||My projection TV||A bowl of cereal||I always step on the baseline|