Source: John Munson/The Star-Ledger
I’m very excited to bring you our first interview with a Big Leaguer, an All-Star at that, Mets catcher John Buck. We gearheads know Buck as the man behind the artful airbrushed masks with the Marlins, but Buck isn’t making his money on flare alone.
Buck has earned his league-wide reputation as a “game-caller,” a term reserved for a catcher who makes a pitching staff better because of his expert knowledge of both his pitchers and opposing batters. All pitchers know how important a catcher like that can be to your success. Chemistry is critical to finding your flow—and Buck builds that chemistry by studying tendencies, calling the right pitch at the right time, picking up mechanical flaws, getting that extra inch off the plate or beneath the zone, and the other intangibles that Big League managers look for in an everyday catcher.
Buck has made a living as one of the best receivers in the game, and he treats his equipment accordingly. So much so, that he actually INVENTED a way to protect his most valuable asset, his mitt. The Glove Guardian, a one-of-a-kind protective glove case, prevents your prized leather from losing its shape and saves it from the heat, dirt, seeds, rain, Gatorade, and any other undesirables at the bottom of your bag (which is absolutely gross, lets be honest).
Buck took a break from the Spring grind to talk to us a little bit about the Glove Guardian, his masks, and the Mets staff. Here’s what he had to say:
WPW: Loved your Miami-inspired mask art last year. Best-looking masks we’ve seen. Who did those paint-jobs for you and what was your inspiration? Can we get a sneak peek at this year’s mask now that you’re with the Mets?
BUCK: Gerald with VooDoo Air is the one who does my masks. He does most of the masks for the NHL goalies as well. I met him up in Toronto when I played there. My inspiration for my masks I take from the cities, like the Miami South Beach skyline. One of my Miami masks actually had a picture of my jeep going down the street in Miami. I have sketches of my mask this year but they are just rough drafts. In the next week or two I should finalize it. I’ll give you a hint of what they might involve. I’m thinking Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge.
WPW: Awesome. Can’t wait to see the final product. We read in WSJ that you love your “baby” as much as we do. What is your glove of choice and how long have you been with her? Any other “babies” that we should know about (childhood favorite, different brands you’ve tried)? We promise we won’t tell Mrs. Wilson.
BUCK: Mrs. Wilson has always been my favorite glove. The model is M1. It’s in-between their models 1791 and 1790. It’s not too big and it’s not too little. It’s just right.
WPW: She sounds like a gem. As much as we love our glove, we think the Glove Guardian is a great idea and a long time coming. Take us through your epiphany. Did you have any help?
BUCK: This is the story behind the Glove Guardian. One day in Spring of 2011 my group of catchers were running from field 3 to the 10 pack to catch our daily bullpens. As we were pulling our gloves out of our bags we were complaining of dirt and seeds, and some of the guys’ gloves were mis-formed already. So all the catchers and our catching coordinator, Tim Cussins, began discussing ways to prevent our gloves from losing shape and keeping clean. Ideas that were thrown out were a box to keep our glove in, a separate bag inside our bag, and other ideas. We kept discussing through the bullpens and into lunch. As I was pulling my sunglasses out of my Oakley case I thought that a material like that would be perfect to keep your glove safe. Something needed to keep the gloves shape on the inside as well. A lot of guys use softballs so my father-in-law who I took the Oakley case idea to came up with the softball-like adjustable post. He is in the packaging industry and had lots of contacts as far as getting the idea into production. Once I had one made for myself, my teammates wanted one as well. They helped me change my original idea and tweak it a bit. Such as adding a double for guys who played multiple positions and would travel with extra gloves.
WPW: Is it just for catchers? Any pros using the Glove Guardian?
BUCK: No. Definitely not. The Glove Guardian is for anyone and everyone who wants to keep their glove in prime condition. Gold Glove pitcher Mark Buehrle uses one and helped me come up with the camo “redneck” style. Utility man Greg Dobbs was the one who inspired the double because he travels with four different position gloves. He can fit all four in the double Glove Guardian. Outfielders Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton (oops, guess it’s Giancarlo Stanton now) gave me the idea for the adjustable post since they like the post to sit in different areas of their glove. Outfielders need longer posts since they generally use a longer glove and infielders a shorter post since their glove is smaller.
WPW: I have a feeling Buehrle’s camo “redneck” style is going to be a hit. Any plans to offer different designs on your website or in stores?
BUCK: Currently in stock we have black, camo, and navy. We have plans to add more. Special requests are always welcome.
WPW: Where can we get it?
BUCK: Our website is www.toigear.com and is the best place to order. We also attend tournaments and camps so if people are interested in having us, visit our website and fill out a contact form.
WPW: On an unrelated note, is Zach Wheeler as filthy as he looks?
BUCK: More! He is very deceptive along with his good stuff. I hit live off of him early in Spring and was blown away by his smooth easy delivery. He throws so smooth that you don’t think it will be that hard and then the ball explodes. Very excited to see how Zach will progress.
Not only was John generous with his time, he also suggested we give a Glove Guardian away to a WPW fan! So, if you want to protect your baby like Buck, Giancarlo, Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Logan Morrison, Travis D’Arnaud, and others, enter below.
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