Baseball gloves are large leather gloves that go over a fielder’s hand to protect them from injury and make catching the ball easier. Baseball gloves come in many different colors, shapes, and styles. Below, we will discuss what baseball gloves are used for, some brands that make them, and what to consider when looking for a glove.
What Are the Benefits of Baseball Gloves?
Baseball gloves are worn by players on defense, called “fielders,” to safely field balls that are hit in their direction. Catcher’s mitts, a type of glove that is worn by the catcher, are used to catch pitches thrown by the pitcher. First baseman’s mitts are designed specifically to help catch balls thrown by other infielders who are trying to throw out a runner. While each type of glove has unique functions and characteristics, they all have the singular purpose of protecting the fielder’s hands.
During the early days of baseball, it was considered “soft” to wear protective gear, and thus no players wore gloves. Even catchers did not wear gloves until Doug Allison of the Cincinnati Red Stockings injured his hand in 1870 and wore a glove to protect himself from further injury. While baseball gloves originally provided minimal protection and performance benefits, they have evolved into an essential piece of equipment for players today.
Things to Consider
When looking for a baseball glove, you'll want to consider the following:
- What position will you be playing?
- How much do you want to spend on a glove?
- What size are your hands?
- What level of baseball are you playing?
What Are You Looking For in Baseball Gloves?
There are a variety of potential uses for baseball gloves, including:
- Use in an adult league
- Use in little league
- Playing infield positions
- Playing first base
- Playing outfield positions
- Playing catcher
Potential considerations you may have when buying a baseball glove include:
- Price: Do you want your glove to be cheaper or more expensive?
- Durability: Do you want your glove to be long-lasting or more disposable?
The four different types of baseball gloves are infielder, outfielder, catcher, and first base. Each of them has slightly different designs and functions. Each type of baseball glove comes in youth sizes to better fit a smaller hand.
Infielder gloves are the smallest type of glove. They are usually between 10.75” and 12” in length. These gloves are smaller to increase speed and mobility, as ground balls hit to infielders can be unpredictable and change direction at any point.
Outfielder gloves are the largest glove in terms of length. Most outfielder gloves are between 12” and 12.75”. Since outfielders are usually fielding fly balls and ground balls that require less reaction time, they can afford to be larger and less mobile. Outfielder gloves typically also have deeper pockets that are designed to easily handle high fly balls.
First baseman’s mitts have different design features than infielder’s gloves, despite the first baseman technically being an infielder. This is because first basemen most frequently bear the responsibility of catching balls thrown to them by other infielders to get a runner out. First baseman’s mitts are larger and have more padding than other infielder’s gloves. Additionally, first baseman’s mitts fall between infielder and outfielder lengths, usually around 11.5”. They also do not feature individually cut fingers like other fielding gloves.
Catcher’s mitts, like first baseman’s mitts, have different design features. Since the catcher will be catching balls that are thrown at speeds up to 100 mph, they need extra padding all over the glove. Catcher’s mitts also do not have individually cut fingers. Most catcher’s mitts have a pocket that does not contain holes in order to increase the longevity and durability of the glove. Catcher’s mitts are measured by circumference rather than length and are usually around 32” to 34.5”.
The durability of a baseball glove is entirely dependent on the materials used to manufacture it. The materials that make up a baseball glove are full-grain leather, kipskin, cowhide, and steerhide. A well-maintained glove should last a player multiple seasons.
Full-grain leather is a version of cowhide or steerhide leather that still contains the natural grain. This type of leather is harder to break in, but provides performance benefits and is quite durable.
- High durability
- Known for top-quality performance
- Harder to break in
Kipskin is a leather that is used in many high-end gloves, especially infielder’s gloves, as it is lighter and is easier to break in. Kipskin tends to be used more often in high school and college gloves.
- Easy to break in
- Great for high school and college players
- Typically expensive
- Not ideal for youth players
Cowhide is heavier than other types of leather but wears out faster. It is usually found in cheaper gloves and youth gloves. Cowhide is a popular material used in the design of youth gloves.
- Typically inexpensive
- Often pre-oiled to reduce break-in time
- Less durable
- Heavy leather
- Not recommended for older players
Steerhide is one of the strongest leathers used to make baseball gloves. It is very tough, and thus, a popular choice for professional baseball players.
- High durability
- Popular among pro players
- Harder to break in
- Stiff and heavy
While there are many brands that manufacture baseball gloves, the largest providers are Mizuno, Rawlings, and Wilson.
Mizuno is a baseball equipment manufacturer that makes gloves for every position. They have a large selection, manufacturing both inexpensive and premium gloves. Mizuno baseball gloves range from $28 for the cheapest youth glove to $600 for their most premium selection. Most of their most popular gloves hover around $150.
Rawlings baseball gloves are considered to be the number-one choice for professional players and are the official gloves of the MLB. They are a popular choice for both amateur and professional players, offering gloves at numerous price points. Rawlings carries some of the most expensive gloves on the market, with high-end gloves at around $400. The average adult glove is priced around $120. They also sell youth baseball gloves for as low as $15 and cheaper adult models for $30! Rawlings gloves are available in varying materials and even offer customized designs for your favorite MLB teams.
Wilson baseball gloves are a popular choice for baseball players worldwide. They have some extremely unique designs and colors, most of which are customizable. Wilson gloves can range anywhere from $20 for their least expensive youth gloves, up to nearly $400 for their highest-quality, adult-sized gloves. You can get a quality Wilson glove anywhere from $100 to $250. Prior to 2021, they were the official glove of the MLB.
How much does a baseball glove cost?
Premium baseball gloves can cost upwards of $400. A more basic glove can be bought for less than $75, sometimes even as low as $15 for youth gloves. The price of a glove is typically dependent on the materials used to manufacture them.
What gloves do MLB players use?
While technically the official glove of the MLB is Rawlings, players are allowed to use whatever glove they prefer. Some other popular brands you will see players using are Mizuno, Marucci, and Wilson. Even though they are allowed to wear any brand, Rawlings gloves are still the most popular among MLB players.
What are the different sizes of gloves?
The size of a baseball glove is primarily based on what position the glove is meant for. Outfielder gloves tend to be the largest, and go up to 12.75” in length. Infield gloves are the smallest, with some being as small as 10.75” in length. Youth gloves are even smaller, coming in a variety of sizes meant to fit a smaller hand.