Baseball Glove Buyers Guide

Baseball Glove Prices
Manufacturer’s prices range from $15 up to $400. $15 being a Child’s glove and $400 being a top of the line Adult’s glove.

How to Measure a Glove
Baseball gloves are measured by starting at the top of the index finger of the glove and measuring down the finger, along the inside of the pocket and then out to the heel of the glove. Use a flexible tape and allow it to “lay” in the pocket as you measure. For first base mitts (which have no fingers) simply measure from the highest point on the mitt in the same fashion as a fielders glove. All gloves are referenced for size by inches. Typically baseball gloves have a range from 9 inches (youth starter size) to 12.75 inches for adult outfield play. Catchers mitt sizes while expressed in inches are measured by circumference. Typically a baseball catchers mitt will measure in circumference from 30 inches (youth size) up to 34.5 inches with .5 inch incremental sizes in this range.

Use the chart below as a guide to determine which glove size is best for the age range of the player.  Please note that youth ball gloves are smaller scale gloves than high school/adult model gloves, so an 11 inch youth model will be smaller than an adult 11 inch model.

AgePositionGlove Size
3 – 5All9 – 9.5 Inch Youth Models
5 – 6All10 – 10.5 Inch Youth Models
7 – 8All10.5 – 11 Inch Youth Models
9 – 12All11 – 11.5 Inch Youth Models
High School /AdultInfield11 – 11.5 Inch
High School / AdultOutfield12 – 12.5 Inch

Glove Quality
The highest quality gloves are usually made of heavy leather that will need some time to break-in, provide a “snug” fit on your hand right “off the shelf” and typically do not have palm pads or VELCRO® brand adjustable wrist straps which are excellent features to have if one is buying a youth or recreational type glove.

  • Top-grain and generally will be imprinted by the manufacturer on your glove. These are typically heavier gloves requiring a longer break in time and are used almost exclusively in “top of the line” gloves.
  • Kip leather (Kipskin) has recently started being used by some glove manufacturer’s in some of their high end gloves. Kip leather (Kipskin) hide is from younger cattle producing a softer leather easier to break-in. Whether durability is the same as with traditional hides remains to be seen.
    The next grade is Premium Steer Hide which tends to produce a stiff glove with a longer break-in time and is sometimes pre-oiled to reduce this time. Next is
  • Cow Hide which is usually medium weight, produces a wide range of quality, breaks in faster and wears out faster than steer hide. This grade usually comes pre-oiled or treated to reduce break-in time.This is an excellent grade for a youth glove ages 10 and up.
  • Kangaroo Skin, a newcomer to the baseball glove market, is being used by some manufacturer’s. While stronger and lighter than steer hide its too early to tell how good an investment gloves made of Kangaroo are. The last grade is
  • Pigskin which is far less durable than cowhide. It does however, break in far quicker and easier than cowhide. Gloves made of Pigskin are inexpensive and are great for younger players who will grow out of their glove in a season.

Baseball gloves are also available in a variety of synthetic materials which produce a lighter glove requiring little if any break-in, are less expensive than leather and can be a good choice for a youngster’s “starter” glove. The downside of these gloves is they are considerably less-durable than leather and simply will not withstand the wear and tear leather will.

Gloves vs Mitts The main difference between gloves and mitts is that gloves have fingers and mitts don’t. Mitts tend to do a better job of controlling balls that don’t hit in the pocket and can aid scooping ground balls and short hops. 1st base and catcher are the only positions which use mitts.

Youth Gloves
Perhaps the most important point in this section is to avoid the temptation to buy a glove that is to “large” for the person using it with the thought in mind “they will grow into it”. What will actually happen is the player will get discouraged and want to quit after the glove falls off his hand a couple of times or you’ll get discouraged and either go buy another glove the right size or wonder why “little Johnny” can’t keep his glove on like the rest of the guys. Either way its a lose-lose proposition. Buy the right size the first time and avoid needless pain.

First Base Mitts
Most first base mitts are designed for baseball use and measure between 12 and 13 inches. First base mitts usually have a thin but stiff pad that runs around the circumference of the mitt with little or no padding in the palm or finger area. First base mitts made specifically for youth players generally will measure 11 to 11.5 inches.

Catcher’s Mitts
Baseball catcher’s mitts usually have a thick pad around the circumference of the mitt with thick padding in the finger area and less padding in the palm area. The pocket in a modern catchers mitt is somewhat larger but more shallow than it used to be with the modern catchers glove being more flexible and evolving towards a first base mitt look alike as the quickness of the ball to hand transfer for a catcher is critical. Catchers mitts range in circumference from 31 inches to 34 inches with .5 inch incremental sizes in this range. Youth catcher mitts most typically are in the 31 to 32 inch range and if made specfically for youth players will have a smaller hand opening and finger stalls with some type of wrist adjustment.

Open vs Closed Web

  • Open Web: Most typically preferred by middle infielders, first basemen and some outfielders. An open web helps get the ball out of the glove quicker.
  • Closed Web: Preferred by pitchers, third basemen and most outfielders. Pitchers like the closed web to help hide the ball from the batter while third basemen and outfielders like the additional support a closed web provides.

Conventional or Open Back vs Closed Back
Mainly a matter of style and personal preference. Conventional back gloves leave a space open across the back of the glove and tends to be somewhat lighter.
Some closed back gloves have a wrist adjustment which allows you to adjust how tight or loose the glove fits. Conventional or Open back: Preferred by infielders and catchers because of the flexibility.
Closed back: Mostly preferred by outfielders and first basemen. Many outfielders closed back gloves have a “finger hole” which adds additional support.

Break-In & Care
or whatever reason there exsists more theories on the proper way to break-in and care for a baseball glove than we have the space to explore. Most of these theories are, at best, anecdotal and bear no resemblance to the proper care of leather which, obviously baseball gloves are made from. The first thing to bear in mind is we are talking about “leather” and regardless of what you may have heard or read in the past there are some absolute dont’s when it comes to caring for your newly purchased baseball glove. Lets start with the break-in process.

Depending on the type of leather your glove is made of the length of time will vary between several days and a couple of weeks. The more you play catch with your new glove the quicker it will break-in. We’ve read of one person who actually took his new glove to the batting cages, purchased a couple of buckets of balls and rather than hitting them he caught them, repeating this process over several days helped speed up the process. Some people think prior to using the glove for the first time you should apply a small amount of Glove Oil to the glove, if you choose to do this that’s okay. Use a Glove Oil or Conditioner made specifically for baseball gloves, here is a list provide a list of some generally well accepted products.

  • Nokona NLT Classic Glove Conditioner
  • Louisville Slugger LSC Glove Cream Glove Conditioner
  • Wilson A6764 Premium Baseball Glove Oil

Glove conditioning chart
Start with the palm of the glove and work out from this point until you have covered the entire glove (on the outside). Do NOT saturate the glove, just lightly coat it. Let the Glove Oil or Conditioner dry throughly before using it. Remember the more you catch with it the faster the process will be. Some believe putting a ball in the pocket after using the glove and then closing it tightly with a strong rubber band when not in use will help form the pocket more quickly. It’s ok to do this, you can use a softball or a baseball depending on the size pocket your trying to develop. While this is an acceptable method for outfield, utility, third baseman’s and first baseman’s gloves you probably don’t want to do this with a glove intended for a shortstop or second baseman whose gloves are typically flat with little if any pocket. Depending on conditions once your glove is broken-in you should plan on conditioning it at the beginning of the season and the end of the season before you put it away. If you decide to buy a so called pre-broken in or game-ready glove be aware these gloves generally will not last as long.

Do’s & Don’ts:
Don’t use a hair dryer or any other source of heat on your glove
Don’t submerge or put your glove in water
Don’t beat the leather with a hammer or bat
Don’t leave your glove in the trunk of a car when not in use
Don’t use anything on your glove other than an oil or conditioner made for baseball gloves or fine leather
Don’t use any oil or conditioner that contains silicone regardless of who made it
Don’t saturate your glove with any glove conditioner – use sparingly

Some important do’s:
Play catch every day during break-in process
Check and tighten the laces routinely as needed
Wear a batting glove on your fielding glove hand – protects the inside from moisture
Store the glove away from extreme heat when not in use
Let it dry naturally should the glove get wet

Off Season Storage
First, inspect your glove carefully to determine if it needs any repair work including relacing. If so now is the time to get the work done. Using a very “small” amount of glove conditioner start at the palm and working outward until the entire surface of the glove is “lightly” coated. Apply a very small amount of conditioner to a clean cloth and wipe out the inside of the glove including the finger stalls. Once you’ve completed this process you can place a ball in the pocket if you wish, place the glove in a clean cloth bag and store it in a well protected area such as the top shelf of your bedroom closet.

Some repair resources are:
The Sports Doctor
Doctor Glove

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