Beyond Left Field with Norm: Tony Ross Maddi

A great glove and gear is essential. Tony Ross Maddi makes sure that happens with Rico Gloves. Tony, thanks for taking the time to talk to 9 Inning Know it All. Please tell us more about yourself.

First, I want to thank you for the interview. I am from Kansas City, Mo. I am married to my beautiful wife Tara and we have a daughter named Maria.

I loved playing all sports but baseball became my favorite sport in high school. I was drafted by the Houston Astros out of high school in the 38th round in 1992. I spent 6 seasons in the Houston Astros minor leagues and loved every minute of it. It isn’t always easy but it never felt like a job to me.

After playing with the Astros I went to the Italian Baseball League. I never stayed in Italy long enough to play much in the league. In reality I didn’t play in Italy very long because I wanted to finish my Bachelors and Master’s degree and I had already met my wife Tara. I wish I could have stayed and played longer in Italy and that is my only regret I have to this day!

I started Rico Gloves to stay involved in the game that I love.  I want to continue to make our Rico brand more recognizable around the world. I started small out of my house and now we are starting to really take off.  I have had a lot of help and without the help of others it would be impossible.

I want to thank all the people who have helped with Rico Gloves. You know who you are!

rico1You have great looking product. How did Rico Gloves get started?

Rico Gloves was started because I wanted to stay involved with baseball. If I couldn’t play then this was a way I could stay connected to coaches, players, and really be involved in the game. Rico Gloves was started because I knew we could make a custom glove with pro quality leather at a price that was competitive to our competition. I think with a Rico custom glove you are getting a great price for customization and great customer service. I think our glove price could be more but I think we have done well to this point and we want to keep the momentum. So we don’t want to raise prices on our custom gloves.

How did the name Rico come about?

I was looking for a name that was 4 letters that would look great on a glove. I thought about current brands and decided to try to think of something cool that was 4 letters. I decided to try the name Rico. It means rich or of high quality in Spanish and Italian. That was perfect for a couple reasons. One was because we make the leather and customization in a very high quality way. The second reason is because I am of Italian heritage and my wife is of Mexican and Spanish heritage. Rico also happens to be my mother in laws maiden name. Once I had the name then I made our Rico Logo in a logo maker software on my computer. I really like the Rico name and I think its easy to pronounce and remember for everyone.

bagwellrossYou played in the Astros organization. How long did you play and how high did you get?

I played 6 seasons from 1992 to 1997. I reached Double A level and played on teams with many current and former MLB players like Lance Berkman, Bobby Abreu,

Julio Lugo, Freddy Garcia, Melvin Mora, Richard Hidalgo, Russ Johnson, Jaime Walker, Ramon Castro, Chris Truby and many others.

I was lucky enough to be on the Double A Texas League Champions Jackson Generals in 1996.

After the Astros I went on to play in Italy briefly in 1999 and 2000. I also have played many years in mens baseball leagues in Kansas City for the love of the game.

Talk about the different options with your gloves.

We can do about anything you would like for a glove in either hand.

We have 17 different colors and many different web styles for infield and outfield. We do catchers and first baseman mitts too.

Customization includes- name stitched on glove, logo on glove if desired, flag choice, and color choices on Rico labels, welting, laces, binding, palm, shell, and web. We can do mesh too if desired. Also, we have slowly introduced a new line of Kip gloves that are lighter weight and are great quality.

In regard to leather, we only do pro quality leather. We don’t have any plastic or treated leathers. We can have the ability to select a leather that is more suited to pro players that is tighter and harder that will hold up better during a long season. And we can select a softer cowhide leather for youth players to use and break in faster.

If a glove is too stiff for a youth player we can also steam the glove in our Rico Glove Steamer to make the break in faster. We are constantly trying to have a variety of high quality leather depending on what the customer wants for feel of the glove.

Who uses Rico Gloves?

We have targeted youth players 8 to 14 to use our gloves because we want them to grow up using our Rico brand. Some players no matter what age stick to the brand they have always used. We have done really well in having the young kids want to use Rico gloves.

We do have many pro players that help promote Rico Gloves. We have made gloves privately for several MLB players without doing a glove contract.  We have made gloves in the past for Kendrys Morales, Miguel Montero, Bobby Abreu, and Shaun Marcum. We also have some MLB coaches with Rico Gloves like Mike Butcher LA Angels, and Eddy Rodriguez KC Royals.

13629401594_550The Italian national baseball team staff has Rico Gloves too. We have developed a great relationship with them.

Our professional minor league guys are the future for us. We really have some good guys that use our gloves. Here are some of our players.

Aaron Meade- LA Angels, Tyler LaTorre- SF Giants, Nick VanStratten- KC Royals, Alexander Burkard- LA Angels, Mark Peterson-KC Royals, Luis Lugo- Cleveland Indians, Corey Embree- LA Dodgers, Jimmy Mojica-Laredo Lemurs, Brian Bistagne-Sioux City Explorers, Nick Pugliese- Bologna IBL, and Fabio Milano- Bologna IBL.

We have many minor league coaches using our gloves too. Kenny Hook-Kansas City T-Bones, Andy Shipman-KC T-Bones, Tim Doherty-Minnesota Twins, Jimmy Gonzalez-Chicago Cubs, Mike Diorio-World Baseball Outreach.

Some former MLB players that we have made gloves for include Bobby Dernier, Frank White, Brian McCrae, Micah Bowie, and Jaime Bluma.

Where does the leather come from that you use?

The leather is right from the cow! We use only certain select parts of the hide to make our gloves. We use a certain section of the hide to make the stiffer leather gloves that professionals usually prefer. We use a different piece of the hide for the softer leather gloves. The Kip leather comes from a young hide and is lighter and as strong as steer hide.

Who do you follow in the game today? 

I follow Derek Jeter a lot. He was drafted in the same year I was in 1992 so I feel like we have something in common because we are both the same age.  I am watching him because I want to see how he plays in his later 30’s. He is doing well. I think if guys take care of themselves then 35 and up isn’t impossible to be productive.

I also follow the guys that I played with or against in the minor leagues.

I grew up in Kansas City and I am lifelong Royals fan win or lose. 🙂

What advice would you give younger players?

My best advice for baseball is to work hard. Out work and out hit the competition in season and off-season. Hustle on and off field. Get a coach that has played many years in pro baseball or at the very least is a coach that is very well respected by college and pro players, scouts, and coaches.

If your not a big guy then get in a weight training program designed for baseball players. I have my own ideas on these things but I don’t want to take up too much space on the blog. 🙂

Key Points-

1. Hit 5 or 6 days a week

2. Do more sprint work than long distance running

3. Do long toss and throw often.

4. Get the right coach

5. Get proper weight training program for baseball

6. Make connections with players, coaches, teammates. You never know where a job will come from if college or pro baseball is what you want to do.

What makes a great glove?

It really depends on the person evaluating a glove. Some players like a certain design and type of leather.  Other players prefer soft leather that easily breaks in while other players in college and pro prefer a harder stiffer leather glove. Really its a wide variety of opinions.

I think a great glove is a glove that is stiff when new and looks better than any other brand. Also is the perfect size and design for the position. SS for example is 11.5 or 11.75 or smaller. Outfield typically 12.5 inches and above for Adults.

I think Rico Gloves can make a great glove for you!   I am bias thou.

Give me your top 5 songs of all time.

My top 5 songs of all time.  I like certain groups or artists.

I do like country but I also like latin pop, and international music.

You can say I am pretty different. Here is my top 5 artists.

1. George Strait

2. Jason Aldean

3. Eros  (Italian and Latin pop)

4. Marc Anthony or Thalia

5. Tim McGraw

Tony, thanks for taking the time. Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you for the interview! We appreciate you letting us talk about Rico Gloves.

Check out Rico Gloves at http://www.ricogloves.com/