A Guide to Baseball Gloves

Buying baseball gloves seems easy enough. Go to a sports store, find a glove that fits and purchase. It's not that simple. Different gloves are made for different positions, so knowing what you're looking for before you start shopping can save you a lot of time and help you find your perfect fit.

The Basics of Baseball Gloves 

There are a couple of factors to consider when choosing a baseball glove. One is position, another is budget. Baseball gloves can range anywhere from $20 to more than $200. It may be worth it to spend extra money if you want your glove to last a long time or you'll be using it often. If your glove will be primarily for occasional casual play or you're buying for a child who will outgrow the glove quickly, spending extra bucks may not be necessary.

Size is also something to consider. Kids' baseball gloves range in size from 8" to 12" and adult gloves range from 11" to 13". The 8" size is very small and generally for the smallest hands. When buying a baseball glove for a child, be certain the glove isn't too big, otherwise the child may have difficulty closing it.

Leather should be stiff. Stiff baseball gloves will need to be broken in, but they will last longer than gloves that are already soft and flexible. Above all, make sure that your baseball glove is comfortable. It should be a little bit snug but not too tight. A baseball glove should feel like an extension of your arm rather than a piece of bulky equipment.

Infield and Outfield Baseball Gloves

Infield and Outfield gloves differ in size. Infield gloves are smaller, making it easier for an infielder to quickly retrieve the baseball from the glove and throw it. Pockets in gloves for infielders are shallower, and the back is usually open. The smallest infield gloves are for second base, where the ability to turn a double play is paramount. The shortstop glove is the next smallest, although a slight increase in size gives the shortstop more of a chance at catching bouncing grounders. Third-base players prefer a slightly larger glove with a deeper pocket.

Outfield baseball gloves are larger, generally at least 12" in size. Pockets in outfield gloves are deeper, helping outfielders to catch fly balls and keep them in the glove.

First base mitts

First-base players use baseball mitts rather than gloves, which is one of the more notable differences between positions. First-base mitts have a thin, stiff pad around the outside that protects the hand from hard-thrown balls. There is little to no padding in the palm or finger area. First base mitts are also longer to help players field ground balls and errant throws over the head or in the dirt.

Catchers' mitts

Catchers also use a mitt, like the first-base player. The catcher's mitt is heavily padded around the outside as well as in the finger and palm area to protect the hand from the pitcher's fastballs. The catcher's mitt has a small pocket. Catcher's mitts are not used at any other position.

Pitchers Baseball Gloves

A pitcher will generally choose baseball gloves based on comfort rather than position. The pitcher does not need deep or shallow pockets, or a certain size. Generally the pitcher is handling balls that are hit hard straight to them or bunts, which they will bare hand anyway.

Open vs. Closed Baseball Glove Designs

Webbing is largely a matter of personal preference, although there are reasons why a certain position may choose a specific webbing. Open webbing is beneficial to getting the ball out of the glove more quickly and is often preferred by middle infielders, first-base players and some outfielders. These outfielders like gloves with open webbing so that they can use the glove to shield their eyes from the sun while still keeping an eye on the ball.

Pitchers generally choose a closed web because it helps them hide the ball from the batter. Third-base players and most outfielders like a closed web because of its extra support.

Open-back baseball gloves are more flexible and usually preferred by infielders and catchers. Infielders like the option of having their index finger on the outside of the glove. Open back gloves are also lighter than closed-back models and provide extra ventilation for the hand.

Closed-back gloves are the favorites of first-base players and outfielders. Outfielders' gloves often have a finger hole that lets the player keep one finger outside the glove without sacrificing overall support.

Breaking in Baseball Gloves

There are many theories on breaking in a new baseball glove, including microwaving it and running it over with a car. These are unnecessary and sometimes harmful to the glove. The best way to break in a baseball glove is to use it often. Playing catch daily will break it in quickly, although there is no quick-fix to breaking in a glove.

You may choose to use a little bit of oil to condition the glove. Use an oil or conditioner specifically for baseball gloves and don't saturate the glove. Just apply a little bit of oil or conditioner and gently coat the glove.

Some players also like to put a baseball in the pocket of the glove and close it with a rubber band. This is okay to do unless you have a shortstop or second-base glove, whose pockets are supposed to be small.

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