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One of the most important pieces of equipment for a baseball player is their glove. There are few things more exciting than putting the glove on and playing a game of baseball. But before you hear the umpire shout, "Play ball!" you should make sure you have the right type of glove. We've researched types of baseball gloves for you, so you can grab the right gear for the next game.
Four types of teen or adult baseball gloves vary based on which defensive position the user will play. Gloves for children are less specialized and should be based more on hand size than the player's position on the field. The four types of baseball gloves are:
- First baseman's mitt
- Catcher's mitt
- Infielder glove
- Outfielder glove
Each type of glove is important and serves a specialized purpose on the field. Read on to learn more about why it's important to wear the right glove, what type you should buy for your child and other useful information about baseball mitts and gloves.
First Baseman's Mitt
A first baseman is responsible for fielding ground balls and catching throws from other infielders. Sometimes these throws are not perfectly accurate. Thus, a first baseman needs a bigger mitt with longer fingers.
First baseman's mitts also have rounded corners to allow them to scoop bouncing throws. They are normally between 11.5-inches and 14-inches from heel to tip. A great, high-quality example of a first baseman's mitt is the Wilson A2000.
Or, check out the Rawlings Player Preferred mitt.
First baseman's mitts are highly specific, and in most leagues, they are only allowed to be worn by the first baseman. They should be purchased by players who are sure that they will be playing first base.
Similar to a first baseman's mitt, catcher's mitts are highly specific to the catcher's position and cannot be worn by other positions. Catchers are responsible for catching each pitch and the occasional pop fly or throw from another fielder. This position is one of the most important positions on the field.
Catchers' mitts are rounded and have almost three times as much hand padding as other gloves since the catcher uses it to catch pitches thrown as hard as possible. Since catchers do not have to field ground balls, their mitts are less flexible. A great example of a catcher's mitt is also made by Wilson in the A200 series.
Or, take a look at the Mizuno MVP Prime mitt.
Infielders (excluding catchers and first basemen) spend their time fielding ground balls, pop flies, and throws from other fielders. Often, they have to get the ball out of their glove and throw it quickly. Thus, their gloves are smaller (11- or 11.5-inches) so that it is easier to find the ball after fielding it.
A good example of an infielder's glove is this Wilson A900 glove.
Outfielders catch fly balls and ground balls that make it to the outfield. It is less important to get the ball out of their glove quickly and more important that they can reach as far as possible, so their gloves are bigger than infielders'. Generally, outfielders use gloves that are between twelve and thirteen inches long.
See how this Mizuno Select 9 glove has long fingers and spreads wider than an infielder glove?
This Easton Blackstone Series is 12.75-inches long, perfect for stretching for fly balls in the outfield.
What baseball glove for any position?
If you don't know what position the glove's user will play, or if they will play a variety of positions, it is best to buy them an infielder's glove. You can purchase an 11.5- or 12-inch glove for an adult or an 11-inch glove for a young person. These would be on the longer side for an infielder and are versatile enough to be used in the outfield.
Does baseball glove size matter?
The length of a glove should be based on the position that the user will be playing. This is different, however than the hand size the glove is intended for. In addition to length, gloves are also categorized into two hand sizes: youth and adult.
Youth Baseball Gloves
Youth gloves are usually no bigger than 11-inches long and are designed for smaller hands. They have tighter finger holes and usually have an adjustable wrist to grow with the child. They are also softer and easier to break in since a child's hands are not as strong as an adult's.
It is important that young players use a correctly sized glove. It can be dangerous if their glove is too large because it might fall off or be too heavy to lift, making it difficult to protect themselves.
This Rawlings Renegade glove has an adjustable wrist hole, perfect for growing children.
Most youth-sized gloves are less specified by position since young baseball players play all different positions. You can find youth catchers mitts and first basemen mitts, but recognize that these specialized gloves are not necessary for a child to succeed.
Here is a youth catcher's glove from Mizuno with an adjustable wrist, making it safe and appropriate for kids.
What is the difference between baseball mitts and gloves?
You might see the terms "mitt" and "glove" used interchangeably. While that is generally accepted, it is not technically correct. A baseball mitt does not have separated fingers, while a glove has distinct slots for each finger.
Typically, mitts are only used by catchers and first basemen. Mitts have a more rounded pocket, allowing users to scoop bouncing balls more easily. Check out this catcher's mitt and notice how all the fingers are together on the glove's back and the rounded shape.
On the other hand, notice how this glove has separated fingers and is more squared.
What is welting on a baseball glove?
The term welting refers to the way the leather is stitched together on the fingers of a glove. Some gloves advertise "dual welting," meaning each finger is made by stitching two leather pieces together.
See how this Wilson A2000 glove has a strip of leather on the back of each finger? That is the dual welting.
Dual welting allows the fingers to be curved so that the user is not fighting against a single piece of leather wanting to straighten. It also adds durability to the glove because the added flexibility wears the leather out less quickly. The curved fingers create what is known as a deeper pocket, meaning when the ball hits any part of the glove, it is forced into the hand, making it easier to catch.
Is flaring a baseball glove good?
Flaring a baseball glove means forming the baseball glove so that the pinky and thumbholes "flare" out instead of curving in toward the pocket. This is an example of a pre-flared glove:
Compare that to how this glove's fingers curl inwards:
Flaring a baseball glove can be good, depending upon your situation. It creates a flatter, more shallow pocket. Some players prefer a shallower pocket because it makes it easier to get the ball out of the glove quickly. Since this is an important factor in how quickly a player can throw out a baserunner, it is a popular infielder choice.
Other players -- like outfielders, first basemen, catchers, and some infielders -- want a deeper pocket so that the glove helps the ball go into the glove more easily.
How can I flare my glove?
Deciding to flare your glove depends upon your preference and is generally pretty simple to do. You can do it naturally by applying moderate pressure, pushing the thumb and pinky sections outward until they are as flared as you would like.
Or, you can heat the glove in an oven set to no more than 200-degrees Fahrenheit for five-minutes or less. Once the glove is warm, and the leather is soft, apply light pressure until you get the desired outcome.
You can also use leather oil like the one below to soften the leather and make the process easier.
Gloves, mitts, and glove oils aren't the only equipment you'll need to be a successful player! Check out this article on the importance of cleats.
The four main types of baseball gloves are built for specific positions on the baseball field. They allow different players to do different things successfully.
A first baseman's mitt allows catching a variety of throws from other infielders. A catcher's mitt allows handling high-velocity pitches. An infielder's glove allows grabbing the ball quickly. An outfielder's glove gives a maximum reach for fly balls. Young players should use an appropriately sized glove, which might not be specialized based on position.
Take care when picking out a baseball glove to make sure that it will fit your purposes and keep you safe. Good luck, and play ball!