EQUIPMENT ROOM: Buying a Baseball Glove
Most sporting goods stores will have a wide variety of gloves to choose from.
An important part of choosing a glove depends on what position a young athlete is thinking of playing. Catchers’ mitts are very different from first base gloves, which are different from an outfielder’s glove. The webbing of the glove is the main difference.
“You need a great webbing to field your position, so each glove has a unique webbing for that particular position,” says Scott Bonnett, equipment manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
For example, the webbing of an infielder’s glove is loose to give players more control over the ball as they quickly try to release it. For outfielders, is it better to have tighter, closed webbing, which allows more support of the baseball.
Most beginners, however, are best-served with a standard, five-fingered fielders’ glove. Among beginners, only catchers need worry about having a specific style glove.
Avoid the urge to buy a bigger glove that your child will grow into. Youth models are smaller to help kids maintain control. Most kids under age 12 or 13 will not need a glove larger than 12 inches.
The next step is to get used to your glove and try to break it in. Bonnett has his own tips for breaking in a glove.
“Take a ball or even a rubber mallet and begin shaping a new glove to their desired comfort,” says Bonnett. “This can take some time, but you can throw the glove in a dryer for a few minutes to warm it up to help shape it better.”
In addition, to loosen up the webbing, some players spray shaving cream on the glove and then wipe it off. There are also oils made specifically for baseball gloves that are available at sporting goods stores.
Bonnett mentions that, when packing their equipment bags, many players will put two or three baseballs inside their glove just to make sure that it keeps its shape. This is also a good idea in the offseason, when the glove is not in use as often.
Many professional players show a strong passion for the condition of their glove, as it essentially serves as an extension of the players themselves. Think of buying a glove as similar to buying a pair of shoes – choose the one that feels most comfortable on your child’s hand.