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Jimmy Lonetti Scores Again with Vintage MLB Gumball Machine

[Editor’s Note: I’ve written several times about the great Jimmy Lonetti (that’s him at right), who runs D&J Glove Repair in Minneapolis. Today he’s going to tell us about an interesting item he recently acquired for his shop. Enjoy!

This post is part of Uni Watch Positivity Week. You can learn more about that here, and you can see all the UWPW posts here. — PL]

By Jimmy Lonetti

One of my Twitter followers recently suggested I get one of those vintage machines that dispenses baseball cards for the D&J Glove Repair shop. I looked into it and found that they’re pretty spendy. When you add in the cost of stocking it with actual vintage baseball cards (which of course I would do), I figured I’d be laying out more than the machine would be taking in.

While researching this, I came across a vintage machine that dispenses mini baseball caps. It was being sold by a super-friendly coin-op outfit in Indiana called GumballStuff. They set me up with the machine and a period-appropriate stand:

As you can see on the display card, the machine originally sold mini-caps that included faux seams, stitching, eyelets, squatchees, and so on, like this:

Unfortunately, the machine didn’t come with any of those (the ones in the photo above are from my own collection), and those are pretty hard to source these days, so I just went and got a bunch of the newer mini-helmets (plus the capsules), which are easy to find on eBay, like these:
Intriguingly, included inside the machine were five short-brimmed yellow and green marbled mini-caps with just generic team name stickers:
I’d never seen this type of item before, so I pulled them out and saved them. Does anyone know anything more about them?
Anyway, it didn’t take long for people to notice the new addition to the shop. Here’s the machine’s first customer:


Paul here. Oh man, how great is this story? When I hear from Jimmy, I always end up thinking, “This guy has the right approach to life.”

One additional note: I immediately recognized the illustration on the machine’s display insert, because it also appears on the cover of my 1982 MLB Style Guide:

Does anyone know of any other contexts in which that illustration has been used?



Father's Day Reminder

Father’s Day is coming this Sunday, and Phil will once again be posting photos of Uni Watch readers’ “Dads In Uniform,” an annual tradition that began in 2013. This is always a very special day, and we’d love for as many readers as possible to participate — especially those of you who haven’t done so before.

To take part, email one photo of your father, grandfather, or uncle in uniform (it can be sports, military, work — as long as it’s a uniform). along with a short description of 100 words or fewer, to this email link by tomorrow, June 14, midnight Eastern. Again, only one photo per person and limit the descriptive text to 100 words. Phil will run all of the submissions on Father’s Day. Thanks!



Cap Reminder

After a bunch of false starts, I’m happy to announce that we are once again offering a Uni Watch ballcap! This one is a 100% cotton low-profile strapback (i.e., a “dad cap”). It looks great and, like all Uni Watch products, does not have a visible maker’s mark.

You can order the cap here. My thanks, as always, for your consideration of our products.



Can of the Day

Did you know that Planters attempted to compete with Pringles during the 1970s by marketing pre-formed chips in a can? I grew up in that era but have no memory of this! Additional pics here.

Comments (14)

    Ooooh, that machine is a delight! And the period appropriate stand is an absolute treasure of industrial/commercial design.

    Argh, I don’t know how my opening “Ooooh” became a q, but no conspiratorial messaging intended.

    love it Jimmy! this store concept is much needed in all of sports. soccer cleats come to mind. im sure your community appreciates your service

    I find myself equally intrigued by Jimmy’s cap. It looks like he placed his own logo over a Dayton Ducks or Militar cap from EFF.

    Great find Jimmy! The caps remind me of the old Caps and Bats displays MLB put out in the 1970s…one for each of the 4 divisions at that time!


    I remember Planters as the company that put a clear plastic platform (with the contour of the chip stack) at the bottom of the can so that the bottom chips wouldn’t break as easily.

    My father thought it was part of “hidden inflation” to not give a full can of chips.

    I went looking for an image of a canned potato chip I remember as a kid…. I couldn’t find it but this is better. “Scientifically Processed” and “Fully Digestible”. How appetizing!


    I was hoping Paul would highlight one of those cans someday so I could ballyhoo the “potato chip silo”.

    That’s so cool!!!
    Maybe leave the “marble” helmets in and if someone gets that, they get a “prize” (even a free spin- means they get the joy of that plastic capsule dropping twice!

    GumballStuff is a great resource for all things gumball machine, I highly recommend them, since they hooked me up for my two machines.

    Might have to make a trip to cities from Fargo to come get a few caps…. Maybe get a glove or two.

    Great article, and belated thanks for introducing me to the Haterade substack. The internet is mostly inane drivel, but you somehow manage to find the good nooks and crannies

Comments are closed.