SRPMIC Member Designs Unique Glove for Colorado Rockies Player
After participating in a cultural education course offered by the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Colorado Rockies left-fielder Ian Desmond wanted to honor the team’s relationship with the Community.
He found the opportunity in Community member and artist Jacob Butler, who worked with Desmond to design a custom baseball glove for Desmond that incorporates symbolism reflecting the culture of the O’odham/Piipaash.
After working on the glove for about a week, Butler presented it to Desmond shortly before the April 29 game between the Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field in Phoenix.
Salt River Fields at Talking Stick is the spring training home of the Rockies and the Diamondbacks. Every February, the Rockies make their way from the Rocky Mountains to the desert to practice. This was where the relationship between Desmond and Butler started.
Talk of the custom-designed glove began at a spring training game, where Butler was presented with the opportunity and ran with it.
“It was a great opportunity to try something new and try a different medium,” Butler said. “I don’t know of anyone doing this to a glove, so for me, it was an honor to be asked. A number of different Community artists could have been asked, even some I look up to. I was really honored.”
Butler then met with Desmond and discussed the glove’s design details.
“After speaking to Mr. Desmond, he made it clear that he wanted to give some type of honor or respect to the Community by displaying some of our imagery on his glove,” Butler said. “I thought this was really cool. It got me really excited, and I wanted to do it in a good way with good intentions. He basically said, ‘Do whatever you want, under two conditions.’”
One condition was that images on the glove could not disrespect the Community or make Desmond feel like he shouldn’t use his glove in the field, and the other condition was that Butler should design the glove how he wanted and couldn’t show it to Desmond until it was finished.
Butler, the SRPMIC Community Garden coordinator, finished designing the glove after his normal work hours, using a pencil-like burning tool to transfer his designs into the leather. Butler did all the work freehand.
What was supposed to be a simple glove hand-off via mail turned into a glove presentation ceremony near home plate.
“I didn’t expect it to be what it was, I was just going to give it to him,” Butler said about the presentation. “It’s exciting, but at the same time, I don’t like getting the accolades.”
At the ceremony, Butler presented Desmond with the glove and an etched seashell to show thanks for allowing him the opportunity to showcase his talents. Butler explained the meaning and significance behind his designs to Desmond. Some of it was not disclosed to the public, as it was personal for both men.
Desmond was not available for comment after the presentation.
“I’m glad he liked it. It was really cool to actually see him utilize [the glove] on the field; it worked out perfectly for him. To see his validation was cool. It was all done in a good way. I also got to bring my family [to the presentation]: my kids, wife and dad as well. I’m grateful for all of this,” said Butler.
Desmond was attentive and asked Butler various questions about the designs. He thanked Butler for his efforts with a hug and a handshake. Right after he received his glove, he took it straight to the field and showed it off to the crowd with a smile.
The Rockies posted various pictures of the glove on their Facebook page. At time of print, Butler’s artwork received over 2,300 likes and 726 shares on Facebook alone.
Rockies fans, and baseball fans from around the world, commented on the glove. Comments included “That’s easily the best looking mitt I ever saw,” “I would love to see more sports teams engage in this sort of [glove art],” “That’s beautiful,” and “That’s gorgeous.” Only positive comments flooded the timelines.