Method 1: Elbow grease
A properly broken-in glove has the feeling that it’s been used for years. And that’s one way to do it – use it. A lot. Repeatedly using the glove to play catch and pick up ground balls is the most authentic way to get the glove to form to your unique hand, and bend/fold the way you need it.
Obviously, this takes time, and might result in some dropped balls as the pocket isn’t perfectly formed yet. If you choose to go the “au natural” route like this, you may want to keep the mitt conditioned, so the leather stretches and conforms to your hand evenly and comfortably. However, if you want to break in your baseball glove quickly, move on to the next steps.
Method 2: Wet the glove
To loosen up the fibers of the leather without drying them out, most players use heat, moisture, or some combination of both. There’s been some reports of people using microwaves or even bringing them in a jacuzzi with them repeatedly. Note: DO NOT use a microwave – this makes the laces very brittle and almost “cooks” the leather.
- Submerge the glove in lukewarm water for up to 3 minutes
- Remove the glove and immediately place a ball deep in the pocket, and wrap the glove (with ball inside) using a glove wrap
- Place the whole package in the sun, fingers facing up, so the water can drain out the bottom easier
- Once the glove is close to dry, remove the wrap and begin to work the glove by using it. Fold it, hit it, be a little rough with it.
- Restore any natural moisture using glove oil, focusing on the laces, but using only a light spray.
- Repeat as needed on a weekly basis
Method three: Beat it up
This method requires a bit of deep-rooted anger, and simulates the first method of repeated use – but on a faster timeline. This method doesn’t require a partner to throw the ball, and can be done while sitting on the couch watching tv. In our opinion, this is the best way to break in a baseball glove, because it still speeds up the process, but still protects the leather to a degree.
Wearing the glove as you would during a game, use a baseball glove mallet to repeatedly strike the pocket zone. This tool comes in handy for other parts of the glove as well – use the handle to work stiff interior sections of the finger channels, or stretch the wrist strap as needed.
For added comfort, take the glove off and lay on its side on a someone soft surface (pro shops use a special pounding pad), and beat the gloves edges with the mallet. You can even place a baseball in the pocket while doing this, to almost stretch the leather on the edges around the ball, creating a deeper pocket. Again, use a cream or conditioner to restore natural moisture. Much like dry skin, the leather needs oil or cream to “heal” the tiny cracks and crevices that are created when stretched and beaten.
That’s all there is to it! These are the most traditionally safe ways of breaking in your new baseball glove. You’re welcome to try any of the fancy new techniques and products your friends swear by, but just know that there’s something special about staying true to the game. Breaking in your mitt using the same methods that players have been using for generations adds another level of respect to America’s favorite pasttime!