Before entering the travel baseball world, I maybe knew the difference between a catcher’s mitt and a regular baseball glove. But that was the extent of my glove knowledge. Seven years in, I’d consider myself a seasoned baseball mom who can now talk (a little) shop about baseball gloves. Gloves are an essential part of the game so knowing what to look for is key. For all the newbie moms entering the baseball (or softball) world, I see you. So to help you navigate this new world, here’s my quick guide to baseball gloves so it doesn’t have to be overwhelming!
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Why So Many Types of Baseball Gloves?
I know what it’s like to walk into Dick’s and stare at a wall full of gloves and just sigh. But just like any other sport, there is specialized equipment for each position. You don’t want to buy the wrong glove. There are lots of fancy gloves out there (hello ice cream glove), but here’s a quick guide to the main ones.
- Catcher’s Mitts: The largest and sturdiest of the baseball gloves, catcher’s mitts are typically 32-34 inches. They have a closed thumb and a deep pocket to trap the ball securely.
- Pitcher’s Gloves: Pitching gloves are roughly be the same size as an infielder’s glove (11-12 in). However, these gloves are usually closed webs since pitchers want to conceal their grip on the ball during a windup.
- Infield Gloves: These baseball gloves are smaller than any other gloves (10.5-11.5 inches) so players can make quick throws. They also have a shallow pocket for fielding grounders.
- First Baseman Mitts: Similar to a catcher’s mitt but smaller (13 in), first baseman mitts have ample padding and a large pocket for scooping up balls.
- Outfield Gloves: Designed for longer throws and catching fly balls, outfield gloves are larger (12-13 in). They also have a deeper pocket for greater catching surface area.
- Other Mitts:
- Training Mitt: Used in practice and drills, training mitts are smaller (29 in) and lighter than regular baseball gloves, so they help young players develop their fielding skills.
- Sliding Mitt: While not for catching balls, a sliding mitt is a unique glove that protects a base runner’s fingers when stealing a base. It’s not essential, but if your athlete is a base stealer, it’s a great stocking stuffer or birthday gift.
As the mom of a son who has dabbled in everything from catching to pitching and lastly to center field, we have quite the collection of baseball gloves (and gear!). But luckily for my wallet, my daughter used all the hand-me-downs before she figured out that softball wasn’t her thing.
What Else Besides Size Matters?
The baseball position that your athlete plays dictates the type and size of glove. But what else should you look for when purchasing a mitt for baseball?
- Material: Most gloves are traditionally made of leather. Leather is more durable and higher quality than its synthetic counterpart. But the latter is more affordable and requires less break-in time. Personally, I’d opt for leather. However, after examining our graveyard of used gloves and gear, synthetic options are appealing from a price standpoint.
- Web Pattern: Sounds fancy, right? Not really though. Web structure affects a glove’s flexibility, ability to trap the ball, and ease of grabbing and throwing it quickly. Popular options are H-web, I-web, and closed web.
- Brand: There are many kinds of baseball gloves, but I would lean towards name brands like Rawlings, Wilson, Mizuno, and Hit Run Steal.
A Seasoned Baseball Mom’s Words of Wisdom
I’ve wasted lots of money and time over the years from not teaching my kids how to properly care for their equipment. For all the sports. Lessons learned the hard way. So here are a few tips and tricks for making your baseball glove last as long as you can.
- Break-in: Just like cleats, a new baseball glove requires break in time to become more flexible and comfortable. Glove mallets and oil help speed up the process, but allow time to break in the glove before a big tournament.
- Cleaning: Asking your tween or teen son to regularly clean his baseball glove is a lofty and perhaps unrealistic goal. But a little cleaning, at least to get excess dirt and sweat off, will extend the life of his glove.
- Storage: In a nutshell, don’t leave your baseball glove in your car in the summer where it can bake. Keep it in his bag and bring it inside.
While there are many types of baseball gloves out there, the best ones are the gloves that are so broken in, you hardly realize you’re wearing them. So encourage your athlete to get out there on the diamond, find a few positions that he enjoys, and buy the glove that helps him discover a love for the game.
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