Leather Head Sports' classic Lemon Balls

Maker: Leather Head Sports

Location: Glen Rock, New Jersey

Wares: Lemon Ball baseballs

Spearheaded by Paul Cunningham, Leather Head Sports is a small operation based in New Jersey born out of a hobby. Fascinated by craftsmanship, he told Etsy in 2008 (in an article in their now-defunct blog, The Storque) that he “challenged [himself] to create something unique that people would want to buy,” and that’s how Lemon Ball baseballs were born. Eventually, there was enough demand to leave his job as a photo editor for Major League Baseball in New York City and he folded basketballs, footballs and medicine balls into his handcrafting repertoire. 

He’s fielded collaboration requests from the likes of Ralph Lauren and Jeep, but remains a small operation. Despite widespread interest, it’s clear Cunningham doesn’t take himself too seriously: The Leather Head Sports website lists a “Director of Spiritual Well Being,” as well as a “Director of Fitness and Morale” among its C-level staff. 

While he won’t claim historical accuracy, Cunningham promises Lemon Balls, inspired by the lemon peel baseballs of the 19th century, hold up beautifully for outdoor play at 8.5 inches in circumference and 3.5 ounces. The leather is sourced from sports leather experts Horween in Chicago and is expected to improve with age.

At $38, it’s a great, nostalgic American-made product for a collector or player to own.