Picking the right baseball glove is an expert job. Without the perfect glove for your baseball needs, you won’t be able win that all deciding baseball game. Let’s discuss how you can find the perfect baseball glove for yourself:
Before we begin, I would like to reiterate the fact that there is no perfect glove, but there might a best glove out there for you. Several factors are involved in determining the suitability of the glove for you.
Now before we begin, we must first know how the baseball glove is made and how it came to be:
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History of The Baseball Glove
Almost with all things in the history of humankind, the baseball glove had much to do with masculinity or rather the lack of it. Before the civil war, wearing a glove to catch the ball was seen as an unmanly thing to do, but the civil war brought a host of changes. The game traveled with the cavalry. The man played the game whenever they could, and wherever they could, bringing it to a host of a new audience.
It is still unclear who brought the catching glove to the game of baseball. Perhaps history holds it in its heart. No one thought to record, or maybe no one rightly knew who invented the baseball glove. Doubtless, people were preoccupied with more serious and more pressing concerns.
The commonly held belief is that that is was either Charles G. Waite who played for a professional Boston team in 1875, or Doug Allison, a catcher for the Cincinnati Red Stockings in 1869, but we can’t be sure of either one.
What we do know is that by 1880, the game had seen the appearance of a padded catcher’s mitt and by the turn of the century the gloves were a common sight in the games. The manliness of not wearing a glove had given way to common sense; you simply won more matches playing with a mitt than without one.
The old gloves had many design issues and have come a long way since then. The gloves in the past used to be thick. The primary purpose of those gloves was to shield the catcher’s hand from the impact of the ball, but with time came a better understanding of the glove and thus improvements were made.
The primitive glove of 1900s had given way to the more advanced forms by the 1930s. They were superior to their predecessors in two ways. Not only did they boost a better design, they also aided in both catching and helping of the transfer of the ball to the right hand. Since then, the baseball glove has seen major advancing in the design.
Why cricket doesn’t have catching gloves (A little side rant)
Baseball and cricket are cousins if not brothers. Both are played in the same manner. A bowler bowls in one, whereas a pitcher pitches in the other. Catches are taken in both the games and so are the runs. Both games have umpires to judge whether a batter is out or not. The most striking similarity is that both games are played with a bat and a ball. Both games were also roughly invented around the same time. Cricket is to the east what baseball is to the west.
Why is it that for two games that share so much in common with one another, the catching glove is missing in the one and present in the other?
What logic is behind this?
To understand the answer to this question you will first need to understand cricket. Don’t worry I am not going to make you read through a list of information or make you read a list of boring details, but you will have to sit with me a little bit longer.
Cricket and baseball, while sharing the same DNA, developed differently historically. It is the difference which makes the use of baseball gloves in one and not the other.
Firstly, cricket was a five-day game at its inception. No other sport is played over this long a time. Imagine playing for five consecutive days (nine hours every day). Imagine carrying a catching glove in hand and also running with the glove in your hand. Rightly so, wearing a glove was not seen as the logical choice.
Secondly, cricket was a game of the rich. The English played it, and others merely adopted it. Fielding was not seen as a worthy test of skills in cricket and more importance was placed on bowling and batting. English people only bowled and batted. The servants did the fielding part, and nobody was going to give the servants a catching glove.
Additionally, cricket is a traditional game, and its traditions are widely accepted. Its fundamentally the same game that it was a century ago. Change in cricket is slow if it ever occurs and people still cling on to roots and traditions of the game. It is still seen as the gentlemen’s game. You are expected to perform a certain way, dress a certain way, and behave a certain way. It would take a significant event to bring the catching glove to cricket, and I wouldn’t put my money on it happening.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let us get to the meat of the topic.
How Baseball Gloves are produced
A baseball glove is made entirely out of leather except for a little bit of nylon thread and a small plastic reinforcement at the base of the small finger and the thumb. The leather gives the glove its strength and makes it absorb the impact of the ball. Apart from a few changes here and there, these are the ingredients that go in the making of a baseball catching glove.
Generally, cowhides are used these days to prepare leather for the glove. A tannery first processes them, and only the finest hides are selected. The worker takes exceptional care to choose the hides that are without marks, nicks, or other minor blemishes. These hides are then turned over to the factory. The factory then grades the hides based on the color and the strength of the individual leather piece.
From here starts the fascinating tale of producing a baseball glove that will help the players make an unforgettable impression amongst their fans. The process involves cutting out the various parts of the glove and then sewing them together. The process is a great deal more complicated than it sounds. It requires hundreds of people working around the clock to produce a single high-quality glove.
- The hides are first treated to kill all the bacteria and are then cut into four parts: the shell, the lining, the pad, and the web. Then by using a foil paper the name of the manufacturer is burned into the hide.
- The shell of the glove is then sewn together. The shell is then put into an extremely hot metallic shaped hand, to give the shell its proper form.
- After this, the pad is inserted into the heel of the glove. A low-quality glove has only a single part pad while a high-quality glove has a two-part pad.
- The plastic reinforcement is added to the glove.
- The next step is to make the webbing out of several pieces of leather. Depending on the type of webbing the pieces of leather can range from two up to six. The webbing is then joined to the glove by using nylon threads.
- The back of the glove is lined with sheepskin.
- The glove is again put on the hot hand metal to give its final shape.
- The last step is a strict quality control, as you might expect from a billion-dollar industry. The glove is run through a series of test and scenarios to test the quality. Only the gloves that pass are selected.
Fun fact: professional baseball players request a special baseball catching glove to be made just for them, while these special gloves are not much different from the baseball mitts found in the house of an average player.
Now that we have understood the basic process of making a baseball glove, let’s move onto the more fun part. The fascinating thing about the baseball glove is that each glove is unique, and a number of factors make it unique. Let’s take a moment to learn about what makes a baseball glove peerless.
Every baseball glove is matchless in its craftsmanship. There is no other like it in the world. Your glove is your own. Each glove is crafted with utmost care and attention. The webbings of the glove go a long way in making the glove feel special.
Every type of baseball or softball glove has a webbing. The webbing connects the glove fingers to the thumb. They are responsible for giving the baseball glove its iconic look and design. The purpose of the webbing is not only to catch the ball but to also hold onto the ball.
Overall there are two basic types of webbing on a baseball glove:
Closed Web: This is the preferred webbing for the catchers, pitchers, and outfielders. The closed web is generally preferred by the players who need to catch the ball traveling at high speed. The closed webbing allows for nice nestling in of the ball in the glove and better catching of the ball.
Open web: The open webbing glove as the name suggest is a little more open in its design nature. The open web glove is designed in such a way that the ball once caught can be quickly transferred to the throwing hand. The open web glove also has some holes in it to allow the fielder who is wearing it to see through the glove when catching pops up.
These two basic kinds of webbing are available in a variety of different types.
H-Web: Also known as dual post web, this webbing is mostly preferred by outfielders and third basemen. It has a sturdy yet flexible structure. As it is an open webbing, fielders can see through the H-web for pop-ups.
I-Web: It is a type of open webbing used by middle infielders mostly. The I-web has a unique design which allows the dirt to fall out instead of getting stuck in the glove. It also helps in shielding the player from the sun when catching fly balls.
Trapeze Web: Exclusively used by outfielders, gloves with trapeze webbing have a deep pocket which provides for maximum catching range. The design helps protect your eyes from the sun as well.
Modified Trapeze Web: This webbing has a strip of leather on the top of the web to give additional stability to the mitt. Infielders, outfielders, and pitchers prefer it.
Two-Piece Closed Web: It is a popular choice for pitchers because it allows them to conceal their hand and the baseball in the glove while on the mound.
These are only the basic webbing types. Every manufacturer has different names for different types of webbings. Moreover some have developed proprietary webbings themselves. But generally, the above named webbings are the ones that you will see all the time.
No, I am not talking about the pockets of your jeans. The pocket of a baseball glove is the area where the ball rests in the glove after it is caught. The deeper the pocket, the better equipped a fielder will be to catch a ball. Again, there are two basic types of pockets:
Shallow pockets: shallow pockets are made for the players who field in such a position where they need to catch the ball and quickly transfer it to their throwing hand. Shallow pockets are specifically designed for fast plays.
Deeper pockets: As the name implies deeper pockets are the ones that have more depth in them to facilitate the players in catching the ball. They also are better equipped than the shallow pockets to catch fast, and hard shots.
So logically, gloves with a closed webbing most often also have a deep pocket. This allows to hold onto the ball better. Vice versa, gloves with open webbing have a shallow pocket, as this increases the speed at which the ball can be transferred to the throwing hand.
The back of the glove
The back of the glove also adds to the individuality of the glove. Most often people tend to ignore the back of the glove as something that is just there. You might have started to notice a pattern here. How the design of the glove is spilled into two kinds. The catching design and the other one. You are right, your position in the field determines the type of glove you get.
Open back gloves: The feature of the open back gloves is a bit of space above the wrist adjustment. The purpose of this wrist adjustment is to provide more flexibility in the wrist and hand. Infielders mostly prefer to use an open back glove as it gives them more flexibility in moving the ball to the other hand.
Closed back gloves: The closed back gloves have a hole where the index finger can rest outside the gloves. These gloves are preferred amongst outfielder, as it offers them extra support for catching fly balls.
Size of Baseball Gloves
Baseball is a game, a professional game. It has a billion fans around the world, and millions of people play it every day. The longevity of the game has given people a long time to analyze various aspects of the game, and the popularity of the game has given people reasons to analyze the game.
For many choosing the right glove size can be tricky. Baseball gloves come in an array of sizes and selecting the exact one for yourself might not be easy. However, do not worry. I am here to help you.
The glove that is too big is not going to help you catch fastballs, as you are losing a lot of feel and control. A glove too small will just hurt your hands.
Which sitze you should buy is determined by your age. Of course it is just a rule of thumb, as personal preference and your position on the field play a major role.
Check this table, to get a feel for which glove size you should buy:
|Glove Size (Inches)
|Under eight years
|8 to 13 years
|Under eight year
|8 to 13 years
As I said, this a rule of thumb and there is nothing to say this will be true for you. You might need to experiment a little bit, go out and try a few different sizes. It is only by testing and playing with the wrong size glove that you will find the right one. There might be a few wrong ones at first, but you will get to the right one eventually. Just stick with it. It is a process, just as getting good at baseball is a process. You will have to keep at it to get good at baseball, and along the way you are going to have tons of fun.
In short, baseball gloves are differentiated based on their size, the materials used, the design and finding the ideal baseball glove for you depends upon your position in the field among many other factors. The position on the ground will determine the webbing, the pocket, and the back of the glove you require in your glove.
How often should I replace a Baseball Glove?
Finding a glove is hard and maintaining it is necessary. The everyday wear and tear that the glove goes through can take its toll on the glove. No material can stand up to that amount of wear and tear. So the logical question is: How often should you replace your baseball glove?
Before I tell you how often you should replace your baseball glove, let me tell you first how you can increase the longevity of your baseball glove.
A little bit of care every day will have a significant effect on the quality of your glove, and you won’t need to doll out the cash for a new one every other month.
Oil and condition your gloves regularly. Nothing more to it. You don’t need to do it after every game, or after every practice session. You will need to oil the glove weekly or monthly based on the levels of humidity in your area.
Never apply the oil directly on the glove, always use a sponge to apply it across the glove evenly.
Back to the main question and the not so clear answer.
There is no one clear number that I can tell you when it comes to replacing your glove. Anyone who says that change your glove after “x” months is either lying or doesn’t know what he/she is talking about. Doubtless a number exist, an average number, a safe number of days after the passage of which you should probably change your glove, but a precise number depends on you, how much you use the glove, where you live and how you play the game. Moreover it also depends on your personal preference again of course. Maybe you like the feel of an older glove, maybe prefer the stiffness of new leather.
Some people only practice once with a newly bought glove and use it for the big game on that very night. Others prefer just the right degree of comfort, softness, and stiffness in there playing glove.
It takes quite a time for some people to properly break-in the glove. So replacing it after all the work put in can be hard, but change is inevitable, and it is coming whether you like it or not. Don’t cling on to a glove that is spoiling your game.
How To Dry A Baseball Glove Left In The Rain
Sadly this happens more often than you might think. It happened quite often to me, so I decided to help you with this article. Make sure to check it out!
Get home safe,