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Finding Minnesota: Visit one of America's only baseball glove repair shops

Visit one of America's only baseball glove repair shops
Visit one of America's only baseball glove repair shops 02:54

MINNEAPOLIS -- Baseball fans are rejoicing. After a long winter, Major League Baseball is back and the Twins will open the season in Kansas City. But here at home, a Minneapolis man is making sure players of all ages are ready.

In this week's Finding Minnesota, John Lauritsen visited one of the only baseball glove repair shops in the entire country.

"They picked up some pitchers. They got good fielders. They got great hitters," Twins fan Bob Hoffman said.

Minnesota may be one of the few states in the entire country that gets excited for baseball while there's still snow on the ground.

"It was 34 [degrees] I think one opening day, and yeah, I had everything I owned on," said Hoffman.

No matter what the temperature reads, every day feels like opening day to Jimmy Lonetti, the owner of D&J Glove Repair, and you won't find may people who do what he does.

"One of the first things they say is, 'Oh, I've got a glove in my garage I should get it to you,'" Lonetti said.

It all started when Lonetti began re-lacing tee-ball gloves and realized he had a knack for it. So, like a carpenter takes to wood, he took to leather, working on mitts in his garage and basement.  


As word got out, Lonetti decided he needed more room. Last fall he moved his shop to south Minneapolis, where his store doubles as a mini-museum.

"I really am a fan of the Met Stadium era of the Twins," he said.

Back then, you could watch a Twins game and then watch people pick potatoes right next door. Lonetti now works to restore gloves from that era. Basically, if you can catch with it he'll fix it, and that includes gloves from all the way back to the 40s and 50s.

Lonetti will work on leather of all kinds, with webbing of all kinds -- Rawlings, Wilson and others. When it comes to re-lacing, it takes him anywhere from 45 to 75 minutes to bring a vintage glove back to life.

Leather repair is in his blood. Lonetti's grandfather Jimmy came here from Italy and was a shoe repairman. Lonetti even uses some of the same glue his grandpa did.

"He's been a big inspiration for me to do this," he said.

His gloves span generations. And just like the thrill of opening day, there's a thrill in giving an old mitt another season.

"I get a note from a lady who said like, 'Yeah, my father opened up his glove and he didn't take it off all day,'" Lonetti said. "That's the most satisfying part of the job."

The "D" in D&J Repair is for "Dom," Lonetti's son, who also helps with glove repair.

You might see Lonetti at Target Field this year. He likes to work on gloves while he's watching a Twins game.

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