Buying the Right Baseball Glove

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Every baseball player's glove is a prized possession that only becomes more valuable with time. But before his or her affection for a glove can begin, the right one must be chosen.

Joe Girardi, a former major league catcher and manager, puts the importance of a player's baseball glove in simple terms: "As your most important piece of equipment, the glove should just be an extension of your hand."

What to Look For

The glove should fit comfortably around a young player's hand. He or she should feel comfortable running with the glove as well as throwing and catching. Girardi points out that he prefers a smaller glove because of the control it gives the player.

When a player is just starting out, buy a glove that fits snugly; keep in mind if your player throws with his right hand, then the glove should fit onto his left hand and vise versa.

As players mature and start migrating towards specific positions, gloves need to become more specialized:

  • Catchers and first basemen use position-specific gloves.
  • Middle infielders, shortstops, and second baseman use the smallest gloves on the field, usually around 11-11.5 inches from the heel to the top of the webbing.
  • Third basemen and pitchers tend to use bigger gloves, 11.5-12.25 inches, pitchers may specifically want closed-web gloves so hitters cannot see the grip they have on the ball.
  • Outfielders use the largest gloves, 12.5 inches and above usually, to allow them to cover just a little more ground in the outfield.

Glove demands in the higher leagues may be very particular, but most gloves can be used universally.

Breaking in a Glove

The most challenging part of buying a new glove is breaking it in, or making it softer. Essentially, the softer your glove gets, the more your child can control it. There are many different ways and philosophies to break in a glove.

According to Girardi, "Some people like to use shaving cream. Some guys like to dunk it in water. I like to tie some balls in the pocket and web. But the best way to break it in is by playing catch so that it forms to your hand."

While products such as glove oil may soften up the leather, the only way that the glove will begin to mold to your hand is through constant play. Major leaguers usually keep several gloves in differing stages of development, saving their older ones for the game.

But those are the big leagues. For your purposes, a single glove that your child can use with confidence is all that matters. One other thing: be sure to write a name and phone number in the glove. You don't want to lose a ballplayer's best friend.

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