The baseball glove or mitt is an important piece of equipment in baseball.
It is typically made of leather and is used to catch the baseball ball. Getting your first baseball glove is always exciting, as there are many types and styles to choose from.
The glove holds great symbolic tradition in the game, from the lacing to the routine oiling of it. It’s hard to believe that gloves actually weren’t even used in the early days of baseball!
Choosing the right glove is important as you want a glove that is both comfortable and offers good functionality for your game.
Gloves can vary based on a number of different factors such as;
- Web size
- And, playing position.
Distinct pattern designs help define specific glove shapes and sizes.
It’s also important to make the distinction between baseball gloves or mitts and baseball batting gloves – the latter being gloves that are specifically made for batters.
Compared to the past, today’s modern gloves have patterns that are specific to a given position i.e. catcher’s vs. first baseman’s mitt.
Therefore it is important to choose a glove that is in accordance to the position you will be playing on the field.
As a general rule, gloves get larger the further the positions get with respect to the pitcher’s mound i.e. an outfielder’s glove will be larger than that of an infielder’s.
The catcher’s glove or mitt lacks ‘fingers’ (and therefore looks like a mitten, hence the name ‘mitt’) and has heavy padding to help absorb the force from the pitcher’s throw.
Usually the glove is claw-like in shape as this helps both the pitcher to aim the pitch, and for the catcher to catch it effectively.
Catcher’s mitts can be single or dual-hinged.
A pitcher’s glove typically has closed opaque webbing so that the ball can be hidden better.
Pitcher’s gloves usually also contain less padding as pitchers are not primarily concerned with fielding/catching. Pitcher gloves usually have 11.75 – 12 inch patterns.
Players at first base use a long, wide, fingerless mitt that helps in picking or scooping up the ball from the ground, some of them thrown by infielders.
The glove also typically features a deeper pocket, allowing secure receipt of the ball. The gloves usually have around 12.5 inch patterns, measured from the tip of the index finger to the wrist.
First basemen are often left-handed and thus right-handed first basemen’s mitts are readily available.
Infielders use a five-fingered glove with a shallow pocket, which allows for the infielder to rapidly release and throw the ball after catching it.
These gloves tend to be smaller with open webbing allowing for dirt to be discarded from the glove so it doesn’t interfere when the infielder needs to quickly remove the ball from the glove.
Infielder gloves typically have 11 – 12 inch patterns.
Outfielder’s gloves are designed to be long with a deep pocket to help catch fly balls while running or diving, with the length helping to increase range.
They have 12 – 12.75-inch patterns.
The web, which is the portion of the glove that connects the thumb to the fingers, can be designed to have different patterns.
Not only does patterning add to the style of the glove, but it can also help with functionality. Here a few different web types that you should know about:
- Basket: This pattern favors pitchers who are trying to conceal the ball. The basket weave design allows for greater flexibility and therefore makes it easier to close the glove.
- Trapeze: This style creates a deeper pocket which is optimal for catching fly balls, and thus it is typically featured on outfielder gloves. It has a leather strap with interlaced lacing on each side.
- Modified Trap: This design is similar to the trapeze pattern except that there is a leather strip on top of the web for greater stability and support. Gloves with this web pattern are usually worn by infielders and outfielders.
- H-Web: The H-Web is named for the ‘H’ pattern that is formed when the leather posts are sewn together. This pattern creates an open web which allows any dirt that gets into the glove to fall through. Despite this, the glove is quite sturdy. This web type is commonly used by both outfielders and infielders, with third basemen particularly favoring it.
- I-Web: Similar to the H-Web, the I-Web instead has the letter ‘I’ formed when its leather posts are sewn together. Again, similar to the H-Web, this pattern also allows for dirt to not be trapped as it can easily fall out of the glove, while allowing for easy retrieval and transfers of the ball. Hence it is typically used by infielders.
- Single Post: This design is also known as a ‘Cross Web’ and contains a single post pattern, which confers greater flexibility and visibility. This web style consists of a long vertical leather strip along with two horizontal bars.
- Two-Piece: Similar to the basket web, two-piece web types are ideal as they can effectively hide the ball. It has two leather patches which can make the glove heavier.
Baseball gloves have traditionally been made out of leather but they now come in a wide variety of materials.
Leather has typically been the ideal choice of material owing to its durability and comfort.
Nevertheless, gloves can be made out of synthetic leather, mesh and treated leather.
The advantages of some of these materials is that they often require less ‘breaking in’ than gloves made out of leather do.
Youth Baseball Gloves vs Adult Baseball Gloves
There are some key differences between youth and adult baseball gloves, some being more obvious than others.
The first obvious difference is with regards to size, as youth gloves are smaller than adult gloves.
Youth (age 8 – 13) gloves range from being 9 – 12.5 inches whereas high-school and adult gloves are 11 – 13 inches, depending of course on the position being played.
Other differences include the type of material that is used, with youth gloves often being constructed of synthetic materials that are easier to break in and more comfortable.
This is important because a younger player is still developing their strength and movements so it is important that the glove is comfortable and allows for flexibility.
Gloves can be softened and broken in by using different types of oils or just plain old Vaseline!
Different Brands of Baseball Gloves
There are a number of brands that make great quality gloves. Some of these brands include;
- and Hillerich & Bradsby (under the Louisville Slugger brand).
Rawlings is the official glove brand of the MLB and it is sported by a large proportion of MLB players.
Wilson also ranks high among glove brands with a large number of MLB players donning their gloves.
Below are details on some of these brands.
Rawlings has managed to continue being the official glove brand of the MLB since 1887 (with some gaps in between).
Rawlings gloves are known for their high quality, with a focus on performance and comfort.
Rawlings has a number of different glove models such as the Pro Preferred Series that has sheepskin lining and wool padding, Heart of the Hide that is highly durable and easy to break in, and Player Preferred which is at a more affordable price point without compromising on quality.
Wilson is a big name in the field of baseball as it manufacturers excellent quality equipment including gloves.
Their gloves are a favorite among MLB players. Wilson has made some iconic pieces over the years and constantly strives to innovate its products by using the latest technologies, high-grade materials and unique styling.
What’s great is that they have gloves in almost every price range, making their gloves universally appealing. Some of their popular models include the A800, Pro Stock and Wilson A2K. All of the models feature comfort, versatility and style.
Akadema is a newer brand that manufactures baseball and softball equipment.
It is quickly becoming a hot favorite amongst both youth and professional players.
The company started in aims of introducing greater innovations in the design and functionality of baseball gloves.
This led to their Reptilian infielder glove, which is almost fingerless and allows for quick ball transfers.
The Professional Glove Series is one of their top models along with others that include the Torino, Patriot, Praying Mantis, Funnel and Prosoft.
Basic Fitting Guide: How Should a Baseball Glove Fit?
A glove should essentially fit like a glove (!), or perhaps a shoe, not too big and not too small.
The fit, feel and style of the glove should be optimized to your form and function.
You want a glove that fits snugly but not too tightly because that could limit motion and flexibility.
A glove should also not be too big as that could negatively affect your performance. The feel of the glove should be firm but not stiff, nor too saggy.
You want flexibility while having structure and control.
Lastly, go for a style that has a look and colour that you like as it will give you the confidence to perform well on the field!
Types of Baseball Gloves: The Wrap Up…
The glove or mitt is an essential component of the ball game.
Each player has a specialized glove in accordance to their position on the field.
This shows how important the glove is for form and functionality in the game.
Therefore it is important that you choose your glove primarily based on the position you will be playing, as that will help guide the type of web patterning and material that is most suitable for your glove needs.