SSK aims to take baseball memorabilia out from behind glass and put it in the game with its fresh lineup of PROven Series gloves that embed pieces of Javier Baez-used glove pieces in the consumer offering.
In creating an ultra-exclusive product line with five handmade gloves, SSK takes a different piece from one of the Chicago Cubs player's glove from his 2016 World Series-winning season and deconstructed the glove in its Japanese factories. From there, the pieces—lacing, #9 patch, SSK logo, palm leather and webbing—were each used in a brand-new glove for a fresh take on memorabilia.
"We look at the PROeven Series as creating an entirely new market: the 'game-usable' market," says Gary Kucich, head of SSK North America. "Many fans have items from their favorite players that are behind glass collecting dust on a shelf. We wanted to create something that brings fans of our products closer to their favorite players."
With only five existing, each will become available on the SSK website, first releasing on Nov. 10 and then spread out beyond that. Fans can follow SSK social media channels—@sskbaseballusa on Twitter and Instagram—for tips on when to look for the gloves. Each of the five gloves also comes with a custom box, custom glove bag and certificate of authenticity that explains the unique game-used piece for each product.
"I am really excited for SSK and this new glove line," Baez says. "They are cutting my glove and making it into new gloves. This is going to be really exciting and I'm very happy about it."
This year the gloves come from Baez. Expect expansion forthcoming. "We are fortunate to have Javier Baez involved in this project," Kucich says, "and will look to extend the series in the future with other players."
While Beaz plays with the traditional I-web 11.5-inch infield design, the five gloves in the PROeven Series all come with their own twist. Three are infield models and two are outfield models, each with a different color and web. And all are different than anything currently offered in the SSK main line.
SSK has designed Japanese baseball products since 1946, whether craftsman-designed fielding gloves or bats. The latest line mixes a bit of the old with mostly new. "With SSK's history of innovation and our great partner in Javier Baez," Kucich says "it only made sense for us to continue to push the boundaries of product development."
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.