Stop worrying about the pitcher with a blazing fast ball. Catch that strike or stop a .300 hitter in his (or her) tracks with the right glove. Which baseball glove is best?
Finding the right baseball glove depends partly on the size. Typically, youth baseball gloves are between eight and twelve inches in length, while standard adult baseball gloves are between 10.5 and 13 inches, although an infielder's glove is usually shorter than this. Regulations state that professional baseball gloves, however, must never be more than 12 inches long.
Consider price as well as quality, especially when buying a child's glove. Little League players tend to grow quickly, but they also need the right glove for their size. Buying an expensive glove that's much too large won't help, and won't save money in the long run. It's better to buy two mid-priced gloves that fit than one expensive glove that is much too large.
Different types of baseball gloves or mitts are used in different positions on the field. Each glove is shaped and sized differently, because it is designed for a different purpose. A catcher's mitt uses a mitten design (one pocket for the thumb and another for the remaining four fingers). These are heavily padded and constructed to protect the catcher's hand from the impact of a hard pitch.
First base mitts are very similar, but constructed with less padding and shallower pockets. This allows the first baseman to catch throws from other infielders easily, as well as to scoop up ground balls.
Outfielder gloves are longer than a first base mitt and have five finger holes. They are usually about 12 inches long, and have deeper pockets that help to soften the impact made by fly balls. The extra length helps to increase a player's reach.
In comparison, an infielder glove is used by players at first base, third base, and shortstop, as well as by a pitcher. These are shorter and feature five separate finger holes. They are usually about 10-1/2 to 11-1/2 inches in length and have shallow pockets so that a ball can be transferred rapidly for throwing.
Other specialized mitts and gloves are available as well. For example, softball gloves are a bit larger than baseball gloves and contain a larger pocket (because a softball is larger than a baseball). Gloves and mitts designed for women are manufactured with narrower finger holes as well as smaller wrist openings than men's gloves. Youth gloves and mitts are similar to women's gloves, but often have larger pockets than adult gloves.
Choosing a Design
Different players prefer different baseball glove backs, depending on their position or personal preference. Some players prefer conventional/open back gloves, which have a wide hand opening. These are most popular with shortstops and second basemen. Many of these gloves are closed web gloves, which offer quick access to a caught ball.
Many players, however, would rather use a closed back baseball glove. These have smaller hand and finger openings and provide a better grip. Some also use leather or Velcro straps around the wrist to tighten a glove's fit. Open web gloves are usually used by outfielders or third basemen, because they are more effective in trapping a ball.
Baseball gloves are usually made either of leather or synthetic materials like vinyl or plastic. Although synthetic baseball gloves are less expensive, they are often stiff and can be difficult to use. They are helpful for younger players who are likely to grow quickly or tend to lose gloves.
Older, more experienced players, however, generally prefer leather gloves instead. The price and durability of a leather glove is usually directly related to the quality of its leather. The best gloves are made of top-grain leather. In comparison, mid-range leather is thinner and often pre-oiled.
Full-grain leather gloves are made of higher-grade leather. In comparison, premiumsteer hide gloves are sometimes pre-oiled, and are stiffer and heavier than full-grain leather. The quality is somewhat lower. Both full-grain leather and premium steer hide gloves require lengthy break-in.
Other materials like kangaroo hide, pigskin, or buffalo hide are sometimes used to make baseball gloves. Buffalo and kangaroo hides are usually lighter weight and more durable than steer hide, but gloves sometimes lose their shape more easily. Although pigskin costs less and doesn't require a lengthy break-in, it isn't very durable.
Every young baseball player dreams of being the next Albert Pujols or Cliff Lee. Many will never make it to the big time, but without the right baseball glove, they don't even stand a chance. With a good quality baseball glove that's properly sized, they will at least have a shot at starring in America's favorite pastime.