A feature article from one of our regular readers. This article will be updated soon to reflect changes in glove technology, models, and pricing.
A boy's first baseball glove is something he'll remember forever. Many
an article have been written regarding finding your young boy that
perfect glove. The bottom line is that you can get a pretty good glove
for your nine year old down at the local sporting goods store. Once
your son reaches junior high and high school it is about time to move
gradually up the ladder towards the "top of the line" ball gloves. I
am not going to cover first base and catchers mitts because most of
them are fairly similar. Now just where do you begin? Let's start with
position specific gloves and go from there.
Position and Size
By the time a boy hits high school he has a pretty good idea of where
he is going to play. Unlike in little league when it was common to
start at short, pitch 3 or so innings and strap on the gear later in
Let's start with infielders. Middle infielders will generally
want a smaller rounder glove, with second baseman generally having the
smallest gloves on the team ranging from
10 ½ inches to about 11 ¼. As we move over to short we will see most
gloves between 11 ¼ and 11 ¾ with some exceptions like AROD who uses a
12 ¼ inch Rawlings single post web with a "fastback" back. Continuing on to
third base, the most popular size is probably 11 ¾ (you'll see some 12's and
a lot of 11 ½ 's among the more sure handed guys over there).
Outfielders' gloves are a lot simpler to judge because just about every
pro stock adult glove will be about 13 inches.
Pitchers will vary the
most out of any position. Many pitchers use gloves as small as 11
inches (Kerry Ligtenberg) and some will use gloves as large as 12 ¼
inches. I would say the average is 11 ¾. If your son is on the Nomadic
side and plays all over the field I would recommend something in the
range of 11 ¾ or 12 inches.
The thing we have to keep in mind regarding glove sizes, especially infielders' gloves, is that every company varies slightly in size. For example Wilson A2000's have always run very small and Mizuno's tend to be larger than their listed sizes.
There are dozens of different types of leather out there today, some very good quality, some rather poor.
It seems that the latest craze in glove leather is the new oil treated gloves that are injected with oil while still in the factory.
This results in a quicker break in period but these gloves will not last as long as the "stiff" older models.
In my well informed opinion I think Rawlings has made a huge mistake by having all of their "Heart of the Hide" models come as "oil tanned."
Wilson has also added the "Quick Stop" leather to their line, which is basically darker softer leather that won't last as long as they claim it will.
Nokona makes the only mass produced Kangaroo gloves and although you may initially enjoy the softness and feel of these gloves you will
eventually realize that you are basically playing with a tortilla on your hand.
Nokona does make very nice Walnut leather that is very time consuming to break in but will last for years after that.
Wilson also has an interesting concept with their "Super Skin" gloves which have a dimpled plastic back that they claim lasts twice as long as leather.
I find this a little hard to believe but I can't personally comment because I haven't personally owned one.
My final answer is that you should go for the stiffest glove you can find, it will take much longer to break in but in the end it will last longer and become a part of you.
Color is probably the least important aspect as far as longevity goes but it does matter to most people.
Gloves tend to come in either Tan or Black or a combination of the two.
I myself prefer a solid colored glove but my newest purchase includes a tan body and a black web and
I am very happy with the appearance.
Basically remember that color won't change anything about how the glove plays but you have to live with the glove for a couple of years
so make sure you like how it looks.
Infielders - There are a variety of web styles in the infield but you will also notice a few trends.
Most second baseman will use a single patch webbing which is a square piece of leather with two X's holding it to the body,
or a simple basket web. Over on to short you will find a lot of I webs and some H webs. Basically an I web looks like an I with
two X's holding it in place at the bottom and an H web has two strips of leather going vertically and one or two going across.
Over at third you will see more I and H webs as well as some "Trapeze" models. A trapeze is a thick piece of leather that runs in
between the thumb and the index finger, almost creating a sixth finger.
Outfielders - By far the most popular style for outfielders is the trapeze.
I'm not an expert on Outfielders' gloves but from what I've observed the outfielders tend to like these as well as some large H webs.
Pitchers - The main thing to remember about pitchers' gloves is that the whole idea is to be secretive and tricky.
So you won't see many I webs or anything else like that. Currently the standard basket web is still the most popular but the two piece webs
are becoming more popular among major leaguers and many of the retailers are beginning to pick up these models.
You may also see some modified trapeze gloves (Pedro) and some one piece webs (Kerry Ligtenberg).
Back of the Glove
Infielders - Most infielders prefer standard open back webs, with a few exceptions as always.
According to the few pro ballplayers I have talked to about gloves the consensus is that open backs keep your hand cooler
as well as being more comfortable.
By far the least popular back as far as infielders go is the "fastback", "holster" or whatever you want to call it.
The only two guys who I can think of who use this style are Ripken and AROD who both use an awful 12 ¼ inch Rawlings outfielders glove.
You will also see a lot of hole type backs which are basically open backed except the opening is smaller and more circular.
If you can picture the Mizuno that Chipper Jones uses you have a good idea of what I am getting at.
Outfielders - In the outfield you will see a lot of open backs as well as many fastbacks.
Pitchers - Most if not all pitchers will use open backs. Pitchers have some special little gimmicks on their gloves including
one that was developed by Wilson in the early 90's to help a struggling pitcher. Greg Maddux was actually tipping his pitches to the hitter
with his index finger that was poking out of his glove. Wilson simply wrapped a piece of leather around his finger to act as a cover and
prevent further problems. This has turned into the Pro Sleeve, which is now standard on a lot of A2000's and Conforms.
Now that we have learned about all the components involved in making a good glove, just how do we turn that into the ideal glove as a whole?
Well here are my ideas of what that ideal glove for each position would be as based on my recommendations.
Second Base - 11 inch, one piece web, X lacing and an open back.
Shortstop - 11 ½ inch, I web, X lacing and open back.
Third Base - 11 ¾ inch, Basket Web with an open back.
Outfield - 13 inch, Trapeze web and Fastback web.
Pitcher - 11 ¾ two piece web with open back and pro sleeve.
So now that we know what we want in our glove, we now must decide what brand we want.
Here is where I get very opinionated and while some of you will disagree, here is my rundown on all of the major brands.
Rawlings - Sadly Rawlings gloves have taken a turn for the worst in the past couple of years. It was only a few years ago that Rawlings
was making all of their mitts in America out of good hard American cowhide. They have since moved out of the country and are now
making all of their gloves out of oil treated, pre-softened leather. I really have to give Rawlings' current line the thumbs down.
Mizuno - Mizuno made what were arguably the best gloves ever in the early nineties when they made the World Win series.
They discontinued them in about 1995 I believe and switched over to the Classic as the top of the line models.
The Classic are good gloves but my main gripe with them is the quality from glove to glove. I have noticed that some of them
will come nice and firm and ready to be shaped while some will be floppy and creased poorly from the start.
If you are willing to spend a little more and buy a Mizuno Pro you will be very happy.
I believe they are the top gloves out right now although they are on the expensive side at about $220.00.
Wilson - I firmly believe that the A2000 line of gloves are the best available in the $150.00 range.
Even though Wilson is no longer making them in the United States they are still making most of theirs out of Pro stock,
hard leather that requires lots of breaking in. Wilson has avoided making all of their gloves with oil treated leather like Rawlings did
and all of their gloves come in a nice generic shape that is just waiting to be manipulated into your own personal mitt.
Even though Wilson's A200's are not up to the bar that they put up many years ago they are still the best gloves out there.
Where to Buy?
Now that you know what you want, just where can we get it for the best price?
I have looked long and hard to find the place where I can get the best selection as well as the best price.
I found a company by the name of Baseball Plus out of New York who carry every glove made by every manufacturer and
also do it at the best prices I have seen. They are very courteous and helpful on the phone and always willing to help you get exactly
what you want, something I haven't gotten from other retailers.
I ordered my most recent glove, a Wilson A2000 1786TB from them for only $135.00.
All of their other equipment is also priced very well with heart of the hide gloves going for $140.00.
They also include free shipping on any order over $150.00.
You can request a catalog from them at (516) 378-6570.