When you think of baseball gear, the very first thing you think of is the baseball glove. Most kids have a family glove passed down from sibling to sibling just for playing catch in the yard. It’s almost always too big or too small, and by the time it’s finally retired, it’s literally coming apart at the seams.
For players who play baseball regularly, the family glove just won’t do. They need a glove that fits, that has been created for their position, so they don’t sacrifice any dexterity or safety on the field.
How to Choose a Glove Size
The glove size is determined by two factors, age and position. For the youngest players, position may not matter as much, but the more specialized a player becomes on the field, the more they will require the glove that matches.
Have the player hold out their catching hand, palm flat, in the “stop” position, fingers vertical, wrist facing down.
If a player is right-handed, they will use their left hand to catch.
If a player is left-handed, they will use their right hand to catch.
Using a ruler, measure from the top of the index finger to the wrist. The finger should be as straight as possible. Write the measurement down.
Find the closest size up from your measurement. If you measured at 6-1/2’’, then choose the smallest baseball glove near that size, which will typically be 9’’.
Right-Handed vs. Left-Handed Gloves
A right-handed glove will actually belong on the left hand. That is because a right-handed player will throw with their right hand and catch with their left hand.
A left-handed glove will actually fit on the right hand. A left-handed player throws with their left hand and catches with their right.
Make sure, when shopping online, to check which hand the glove should fit on, and order accordingly.
Youth gloves should be small enough to help the player learn how to catch accurately. They may be one type fits all positions, and measure from 9 to 11 inches across.
Types of Gloves and Positions
What separates one kind of glove from another? By the time a player has moved into high school and college baseball, not only have they learned what position they are best at, they also have specialized glove needs.
Outfield gloves are larger than infield gloves and have deeper pockets for catching long fly balls and longer reaches for that extra distance needed to cover a grounder.
Infield gloves are smaller with shallow pockets for better fielding and faster throwing reactions for those awesome double-plays.
First basemen gloves are unique among the infielders, as it is typically longer for a better reach than other infielder gloves, while retaining the shallow pocket.
Second basemen have the smallest gloves in order to make quick throws to first, third, or home.
Pitchers are also infielders, and need to react like them, but their gloves are often slightly larger than a typical infield glove, for ease of ball control before the pitch.
Catcher’s mitts are fingerless, heavily padded to reduce ball impact, and extra reinforced for both safety and wear and tear. The catcher is the player that will use his or her mitt the most, and so they will need to replace it more often than other players.
Outside of baseball, softball gloves tend to be larger to accommodate the larger ball size.
Remember that the correct size of glove for the player gives them the best comfort, safety, and dexterity on the field, so size charts should be used as guidelines, but not absolutes.
These three types of materials will make a difference in the feel and durability of the glove.
The majority of gloves are made from this material.
Leather offers the best comfort, control, and feel.
Sturdy leather means stiffer gloves, but after they are broken in, this sturdiness becomes durability.
These gloves will be stamped with a label saying “Genuine Leather”
Leather is treated and softened with chemicals for faster break-in.
Treated leather also reduces the care needed for the glove and helps the glove keep its shape.
Treated leather should not be regarded as the same as a part fabric, part leather glove. These gloves are often very flimsy and can’t be repaired.
A lighter, less-durable material that doesn’t hold up to the rigors of the game as well.
Less expensive, and good for youngsters to learn with.
Unlike leather gloves, when a synthetic or plastic glove wears out, it can’t be repaired by a professional leather worker, and should be replaced.
Find the Features that Fit Your Game
Today's gloves have different features built-in to help your game and to suit your ability. Here are the key features constructed into gloves and what to consider when finding the glove that suits you.
The size of the pocket depends on your position
Shallow pockets really help middle infielders quickly grab the ball and throw
Deeper pockets help outfielders shag down fly balls
Softball players also need a bigger pocket to catch the bigger ball
Different styles of webbing are available to either help you better field your position or to fit your preference
A closed web is preferred for pitchers who want to hide the ball from the batter
Outfielders and third basemen like the extra support from a closed web
An open web helps middle infielders get the ball out of their gloves quicker to make throws
There are two choices of backs, open or closed
The type of back is matter of personal preference, but some styles fit some positions better
The open back leaves a space open across the glove's back
Middle infielders prefer this for the flexibility
Outfielders prefer a closed back with a "finger hole" for extra support
Gloves come with an adjustment to keep it snug. Not all gloves have these "fit systems."
A D-ring fastener allows you to pull on the lacing and make the glove tighter or looser
A Velcro fastener although it may wear quicker, offers convenience of pulling and adjusting to fit your comfort level
A Lacing adjustment allows you to loosen or tighten the wrist fastener with leather laces.
A Buckle system adjusts the glove with a buckle similar to an adjustable hat
The amount of padding in the pocket depends on the position played
The catcher's mitt has more padding to handle hard throws from a pitcher
Glove makers have been adding more padding for other positions as well to help players handle the sting of hard-hit balls
There also may be padding in the wrist area to make the glove more comfortable
Care and Break-In of Your Glove
Pour a small amount of glove conditioner or glove oil on a clean dry cloth and carefully work the oil around the outer shell palm and back. A light coating is all that is necessary.
Allow the glove to dry thoroughly for 24 hrs.
Wipe off any excess oil with a soft towel and play catch for 10-15 minutes or 50-70 throws. This stretches and forms the glove to your hand and accelerates the break-in process.
If you are by yourself, going to a batting cage and catching slow balls for a session will do the same thing.
Put a ball in the pocket of the glove and tie the glove closed for a few days with a string or rubber band.
The glove should respond to your hand movements with little resistance.
Laces will stretch with use. Keep the laces taut but do not over-tighten them.
Check with a repairman for broken laces or other wear and tear signs on your glove.
Store in a cool dry place with a ball in the pocket when not in use. Do not leave your glove in an area where temperatures will become extreme, such as the trunk of your car.
Do not over-oil your glove. Twice per season is sufficient.
When you oil your glove, loosen the dirt and grime on the glove and wipe it away with a soft towel.
Do not submerge your glove in water -- it will rot. If your glove becomes wet, dry slowly and oil lightly. Do not put in the oven or microwave to dry it.