Jackie Robinson Movie
Cowetan repaired, restored baseball mitts for '42'
by Alex McRae
As Coweta County continues to be a hot spot for film production, more and more residents are flocking to theaters hoping to see themselves or someone they know on the silver screen.
Deland Cochran and his wife, Debbie, couldn’t wait for the new movie “42” about baseball legend Jackie Robinson to open for that very reason. But the Cochrans didn’t rush to the theater to see a friendly face on screen. They were there to admire the props, specifically the vintage baseball gloves, which Deland repaired and refurbished for use in the film.
“It was pretty neat,” Deland says. “We were watching the movie and I’d punch Debbie and say ‘that’s my catcher’s mitt’ or ‘that’s my first base mitt.’ It was a lot of fun.”
Deland never dreamed his longtime passion would result in high-profile Hollywood exposure. At least not when he was playing baseball as a student and young man.
In the 1980s Cochran was working in a sporting goods store. Occasionally, people would come in asking if he could fix a glove. According to Cochran, “We sold those re-lacing kits that have a thin piece of lacing and a useless tool. As I fixed more gloves, I began looking for better quality lacing and better tools to use.”
As the years passed and Cochran’s son Patrick McCarthy started playing ball, Cochran repaired gloves for his son and teammates at Newnan High and later at Georgia Southwestern, where Patrick played college ball.
Cochran’s reputation spread and he began to get inquiries — and jobs — from total strangers.
He eventually opened a website and business picked up even more. Debbie did a “before and after” video showing how Deland could bring a glove back to life and posted it on YouTube, and the business soared. Soon, orders were coming in from across the nation.
Eventually, Cochran’s fame spread all the way to Hollywood.
Last year, totally out of the blue, Cochran got a call from a Hollywood prop manager saying he was working on a new movie about Jackie Robinson called “42.” He said the film would be using 1947-era gloves. The prop manager had found some gloves but they needed to be repaired and restored for the film. He asked if Cochran could do the work.
Cochran said “Sure,” and for two months, never heard another word.
Then the man called back, the deal was made and Cochran found himself with a pile of old gloves needing lots of TLC and in some cases, replacement parts that aren’t available anymore.
“The guy said he had a bunch of gloves he needed to break in,” Cochran says. “They were really in bad shape. They were dry and stiff and had dry rot and were missing pieces or parts.”
Cochran didn’t throw up his hands. He got busy oiling and massaging and repairing those gloves back to the same condition they might have been in 1947, when the movie story takes place.
“They couldn’t look brand new,” Cochran says, “because players don’t use a glove in a game until it’s broken in.”
“But they had to look as good as they would have when they were being used,” he said.
Cochran finished his work on schedule. The gloves were perfect, the movie is a hit and now Deland Cochran can add “Hollywood baseball movie glove expert” to his resume. But he probably wont.
Cochran loves baseball, but says his work is not about becoming rich and famous.
“I do this because I love it,” he says. “I still enjoy helping people keep their favorite glove on the field.”