Baseball is considered by some to be the thinking man’s sport. It is very complex, and involves 9 different positions that require very specific skill sets. Purchasing a baseball glove is an important and often-overlooked part of the game. The glove is the most essential piece of equipment you’ll need to play ball. It is an extension of your hand, and depending on what position you play, the glove you use will vary greatly. Many people neglect to notice this and end up with a glove that doesn’t suit their needs.
Determine what position you will play. This is the most important step in buying a glove. You should know your position before buying anything. Remember that if you plan on playing more than one position, it may be best for you to buy multiple gloves.
Look at gloves by position. Catchers should be looking at catcher’s mitts, which provide extra padding and a good target for the pitcher. First basemen should look at first base gloves, which are shaped specially to scoop balls out of the dirt and have a deep pocket to trap the ball. Second basemen and shortstops will want smaller infield gloves, around 11 inches in length, with small open pockets that make for easy access to the ball. Third basemen should look at gloves slightly larger, around 11.5 inches, to give them a bit more than the middle infielders. Outfielders want gloves around 12.5 inches long, that give them a maximum reach while still having a good feel for the glove. Pitchers should get a glove around 12 inches, big enough to hide the ball while adjusting your grip and to catch any line drives coming your way.
- Research online. Some of the best glove companies include Rawlings, Wilson, Nike, Akadema, Mizuno, and SSK. These companies can be found online and offer detailed specs of their product lines. It’s a good idea to know what you are looking for in a glove, and what is available. Remember that what you pay for is what you get. A cheap glove will not be made with high-quality leather and will not be stitched together well. A good glove can last decades if it is taken care of, whereas a cheap one can fall apart in a matter of months.
- Try it on. Don’t buy a glove online, unless you have already tried that exact glove on for yourself to see how it feels. You should go to a store and try on the gloves they have specific to your position. The glove should fit around your hand well and feel comfortable. A new glove will feel a little stiff, but instantly you will be able to tell if it is too tight or loose for your hand. Most gloves have a leather thumb strap to keep your thumb in place. You should see how this feels on your hand, and try adjusting it to make it as comfortable as possible. Some gloves have Velcro straps to adjust the fit; this is fine for the casual baseball player who won’t be putting too much stress on his glove. But if you plan on getting a lot of use out of your glove, stay away from these adjustable straps, as they will be likely to fall apart. Some gloves have a hole for the index finger to sit on the outside, and this is a personal preference. This hole keeps the index finger as far away from the pocket of the glove as possible, so it doesn’t get stung by any hard-hit balls.
Break it in and take care of it. When you buy your glove, make sure to buy a leather conditioning oil for it. You should oil your glove immediately, then start to break it in by playing catch. When you aren’t playing catch, you should wrap a baseball in the pocket of the glove with a rubber band. If it’s warm out, leave the glove in the trunk of a car for a few days, as this will soften up the leather and help the process. You shouldn’t leave the glove in direct sunlight, and avoid using shaving cream to help break in the leather; it can potentially damage the glove. As part of your glove’s maintenance, you should oil it before each baseball season, at the midpoint of the season, and at the end of the season. This will keep the glove in good condition and help the leather stay healthy.
Now the only thing left to do is go play baseball! Enjoy the game, and make sure to use both hands when catching a fly ball.