The O’le Ballglove
When do I need a new glove?
A ball glove is an extension of the hand and should be treated as such. Players should take good care of their glove for several reasons including comfort, feel, performance, and durability. After all, nobody scrapes their hands along the ground, throws them against the wall, or leaves them sitting in a wet and mouldy bag. So, why treat your glove in this manner?
In most cases, a 10 or 11 year old is still using the glove they started playing with. This isn’t a problem for those who are fortunate to have a hand-me-down from an older sibling. The quality of these gloves is generally far better than what a player would normally start out playing with. For those players who do start out playing with a ‘youth’ glove, then it is probably time to upgrade. Why upgrade you ask? The answer is simple. Youth gloves are designed to break in instantly with almost-effortless glove movement. This instability in the design will become a problem when the player becomes older and stronger and when ground balls and line drives travel at much higher velocities.
Do I let others use my glove?
That is a personal decision that every player makes. I personally won’t let just anybody touch my glove though I make some exceptions. As a catcher, sometimes it is not easy to avoid teammates taking your glove to warm up the pitcher while you get your gear on between innings, or even in the bullpen at practice. To try and prevent this, keep your old glove handy and on top of your bag so it is this glove that is taken for such things.
I have a rule, if a teammate can’t take care of his own glove, there is NO WAY he is going to handle mine!
How much do I spend on my glove?
I assume the more money a glove costs, the better quality I can expect? Maybe in the past, before the internet revolution, then an argument could be made for this line of thought. However, today there are many companies out there who are all trying to grab your business. Custom glove companies are on the rise and I am lucky to know a few like Promound Gloves and TaiwanBaseball.com.tw.
Large companies like Rawlings, Wilson, and Mizuno often charge higher prices for their top-of-the-line gloves. Why? Because they are the companies who spend millions of dollars each year for advertising and the costs are reflected in their retail prices. Sure they make fantastic gloves but so do hundreds of other lesser-known companies around the world.
4 main leather types are priced as follows: (prices are based on ‘off the shelf models’, starting from cheapest to most expensive in $USD)
- Cowhide – $90-$110
- Steerhide- $130-$170
- Kip- $190-$290
- Japanese refined Kip- $290-$350
Cowhide leather is leather used in the well-known Rawlings “Gold Glove” Series. Not to be confused with the term “The Gold Glove Company” as Rawlings is known as. Cowhide will break in the fastest, however it loses durability the quickest. This leather is great for players between 10-13 years old.
Steer hide is my personal favourite as it is durable, workable, and reasonably priced. A steer hide leather glove will last years provided you take good care of it.
Kip leather is very popular these days and made more popular through Rawlings “Pro Preferred” series. While a great leather, for more bang for your buck I would stick with steer hide.
Japanese Refined Kip is the highest quality leather on the market. Many Japanese companies can charge between AU $400 to $600 for this quality. Off the shelf, gloves made from Japanese refined kip will be incredibly stiff and break in slowly over time.
Some other minor materials used in glove manufacturing include Kangaroo leather and Alligator skin.
What is the best way to take care of my glove?
Taking caring of your glove is easy. Keep the glove in its own bag when stored in your equipment bag. This is usually when a glove is subject to the most wear and tear. Always keep lace knots tied, as loose lacing leads to poor shape, and poor shape can lead to leather tears in the web and bottom of the fingers. Good quality gloves are not in need of glove oil to break them in. Glove oil solutions are generally nothing more than a marketing tool for companies to sell their own glove oil brands. When stored, keep something like a small towel or ball in the palm as to avoid “folding” of the palm. I am a fan of the small towel. When you have up to 4 or 5 gloves in your game bag, adding more baseballs only makes the bag heavier.
Breaking in my new glove?
There are many ways to break in your new glove. However, “squeezing” the glove and crushing it from the palm are a huge NO NO! When a glove is new and stiff you can ruin your glove by squeezing it in an effort to close it. This squeezing will create a ridge or lumps at the bottom of the fingers that look unsightly and give you one ugly useless pocket.
Play catch with the glove. Yes, you are going to drop the ball, just deal with it. As you catch, let the impact of the ball close the glove. Squeezing the glove before it has become soft will give you ridges as I mentioned.
Re-lacing the top of the glove is a sure fire way to speed up the break in process. The firm fingertips and top of the web are what really creates a stiff glove. Loosening this part of the glove will certainly help and aid in the breaking in process. Do not do this if you don’t know what you are doing. I have seen some ugly re-lacing jobs!
Do As ‘Aso Does’
Everyone has their own way of doing it though the last thing you want to do is ruin your new baby trying something really crazy.
- Catcher – 32 ½ to 35 inch (many Asian patterns can be as large as 35 inch)
- 1st base – 12 ½ to 13 inch
- 2nd Base – 11inch to 11 ½ inch
- 3rd Base – 11 ¾ to 12 inch
- Short Stop – 11 ¼ to 11/34 inch
- Outfield – 12 to 13 inch
- Pitcher – 11 ¾ to 12 ¼ inch