How to Pick Out and Break in a New Baseball Glove

The buying and breaking in of a baseball glove is a rite of passage for young men and women all around the globe these days. In the past, it was a long and difficult process. Today's softer leather and advanced manufacturing techniques make breaking the glove in easier. Here are some things to consider before purchasing and working with a new glove.

Make sure you pick the proper glove first.

Not all gloves are alike. Gloves are position-specific. First basemen and catchers play with a mitt (a thicker glove to receive hard tosses better); shortstops have a smaller glove that's easier to handle; outfielders play with a glove that is longer for better reach. If you are unsure what position you'll be playing, get a utility glove that works for several positions.

Get the right size for the athlete. Gloves come in a range of sizes that fit athletes of various ages, called "pattern size." The smaller the number, the smaller hand it fits.

Buy a glove you can afford. Gloves can be very expensive, or relatively cheap. The cheapest are made of man-made materials with a short shelf life. It's best to get the best glove you can afford, because you may end up replacing a cheap glove more frequently.

Break it in well. The best time-tested way to break in a glove is simply to play with it. Catch with someone as often as possible. For most mid-range gloves, the glove should meet your expectations of softness and suppleness within a couple of weeks. The glove will naturally mold to your hand and the shape of the ball, plus you get extra time to improve your skill.

Some big leaguers place a baseball or two in the glove, wrap tape around the glove so it closes and stick it somewhere safe. You can set books on top of the glove, put it under a mattress or sit on it while watching TV. This creates a nice pocket for the ball to settle into when you're on the field.

Another way to break in or soften your baseball glove is to use some kind of solution, like oil or soap. Sporting goods stores sell a solution specifically meant to be used when breaking in the glove. Some people use shaving cream, mink oil, Vaseline or saddle soap. You may use oils specifically designed for leather. Just remember that the "too much of a good thing" adage applies when using a solution to break in the glove.

Some advocate using a combination of solutions and heat to soften the glove. Manufacturers do not recommend this as it may destroy the leather or shorten the glove's useful life. However, a few major league players rub the glove down with oil and put it in the oven or microwave. But big league players get gloves for free, and can afford to toss away a glove after a few months.

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