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The Goalie With The “Mickey Mouse” Glove

What do Fred Flintstone, Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny all have in common? Right, they all have four fingers on each hand. In fact, unless you’re God on the Simpsons or a character on South Park (well, sometimes), almost every cartoon character features only four fingers.

If you’ve been watching the Copa America — the kits of which Jamie covered here and here — you may have seen Mexico and noticed their goaltender, Julio González, has been sporting a rather odd-looking glove on his left hand.

Yes, the glove on González’s left hand — like many cartoon characters — features only four “fingers.” Now, González wasn’t born with a missing digit, nor did he lose it due to some accident. He has five fingers on both hands. So why does he have a four-fingered glove?

Turns out that a few months ago, González injured his finger. At first, it was believed to be just a sprain, but the pain he felt wouldn’t go away.

“He broke his finger, few people know, at first it was not known. Now it is public, first it was discovered that it was a dislocation, I got to see the x-ray and it was separated,” said Alejandro Reséndiz, general director of Elite Sport, the company that manufactures the gloves for the Mexican goalkeeper.

When he discovered the finger was actually broken, he could have played with it in a splint, but that would have created its own problems. He will eventually need surgery to repair the finger, but for now, he’s playing through the pain. And with a specially designed four-fingered glove. He might have had the surgery already, but Mexico’s first choice for goaltender in the Copa, Luis Malagon, had to pull out due to an abdominal injury. That injury opened the door for González to play in the Copa.

So González approached Elite Sport, the manufacturer of his gloves, and asked if they could create a special glove for him. He wanted to be able to bind his middle and ring fingers together, rather than use a splint, but glove makers don’t traditionally make four-fingered gloves, let alone one that would be wide enough to fit two fingers.

“We have some gloves, not top of the range, but with ribs. He asked me for gloves like that, to tie his fingers and have support, because it hurt him a lot. He didn’t want to stop, he was in a good moment and there is competition, and he held on. There we made him the offer to design a four-finger glove, for three reasons: one, so that he would stop using the mid-range ones, two, so that you don’t use rods, and three, so that you are more comfortable,” explained the director of the company that manufactures González’s gloves.

After discussing his needs, Elite Sport created the special glove that González wears on his left hand for competition. In fact, they’ve created special gloves in a variety of colors, so he can better match his keeper’s kit.

Even though it still pains him every time he touches a ball, he feels it’s better than any of the alternatives. His wife was even lighthearted about it: she says he “looks like Mickey Mouse.”

I’m sure he’d rather look like Mickey Mouse and take whatever good-natured ribbing that comes along with wearing the special four-fingered glove than to not be representing his country at the Copa.

And how has González performed at the Copa? Heading into Sunday’s “do or die” match against Ecuador, he was 1-1 (a 1-0 victory and a 0-1 loss). So clearly he’s been up to the challenge. And last night, in a win-or-go-home match, he was unscored upon. Unfortunately both he and Mexico are out of the Copa, as the nil-nil draw with Ecuador last night wasn’t enough to advance the team.

[Thanks to Paul for pointing me towards this story!]

Comments (7)

    On the last sentence in the first paragraph, it looks like the closing parenthesis was placed in the wrong spot, at the end of the sentence, instead of after “(well, sometimes”.

    I did the same thing in high school lacrosse about 25 years ago. I broke my finger and had two fingers taped together in a splint. Instead of modifying my good lacrosse gloves, I took an old hockey glove (which had the added benefit of more padding in the fingers), cut out the space between the two fingers, and taped them together. Worked like a charm for a couple weeks until it was healed.

    What I find interesting is that there appears to be no rules in regard to the size of goalie gloves. I guess having too large of gloves could be a problem, where the goalie couldn’t catch and control the ball, or throw the ball accurately.

    I don’t have access to my 1972 Cincinnati Reds yearbook right now, but I recall reading in it that Tony Perez in 1971 had an extremely painful problem when two of his fingers were split even slightly. Ultimately, a batting glove was adjusted and resewn so that the two glove fingers were essentially turned into one big one, allowing Perez to bat without pain.

    For those wondering, cartoonists and character designers often draw four-fingered hands (or three fingers and a thumb) because it’s just harder to cram that extra finger into the art, especially at small sizes. Also, animals such as Bugs Bunny wear gloves because human-esque hands look weird on some animals (Source: That’s why I do it, anyway.)

    I did a similar thing with football gloves in HS. Had a broken ring finger so I cut out the finger from the glove so I could tape my ring and middle fingers together. Played half a season like that catching passes.

    I’m old enough to not have worn gloves in high school football. When we did have finger problems we simply taped them together and went out and played.

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