The History of the Baseball Glove

The first recorded instance of glove use during a baseball game was in 1870.

The year is 1869. You are standing out in the field. A ball is hit and it comes screaming towards you. What do you do? You catch it. Ouch! Now you are suffering from sore and bruised hands. Fast forward to 2008. It is so obviously prevalent in baseball that the glove is a primary tool for catching those screamers.

But where did the glove first make its appearance and what led to it’s acceptance in baseball? Believe it or not, it was looked down on and you were a “sissy” if you wore a glove.

Now lets go back in time to the year 1870. The first recorded instance where a glove was used during a baseball game was by a catcher named Doug Allison. You see, Doug’s hands were split and cracked open from catching in other games earlier in the week. He decided to wear some kind of protection on his hands so that he could protect them from further damage. He got laughed at and mocked by his teammates. It would be five years before another player would don the glove again.

Now we arrive to the year 1875. Charlie Waitt, first baseman, would attempt to wear a glove for protection, but he tried hiding it by having a flesh colored glove. He, too would suffer humiliation from his teammates.

Albert Spalding (of the famed baseball glove and other sport oriented goods) is credited with taking the first steps to having the glove become more widely accepted. Spalding was such a great player that everyone respected him. In 1877, he wore some black gloves without any backlash. He later wrote “I had been playing so long, and became so well known that it was more to evoke sympathy than hilarity (Darrick paraphrase)

Eventually, other players caught on to the fad and started understanding the benefits to wearing a glove. But still, not every player would follow suit. The last holdout would be hall-of- famer.

Bid McPhee as very stubborn but a standout in baseball. Finally in 1896, he caved in and got the glove, thus drastically reducing his forty five error season down to only fifteen.

In the early 1900’s, baseballs would be thrown harder and players would still suffer from cuts and bruises despite the glove. Glove manufacturers started adding webbing to compensate for this. Still, catchers would receive the brunt of throws, so gloves with thick padding would come into play as a protection to the catchers.

Well into the 1940’s the gloves would lace the fingers together to allow more control to the players. This went on well into modern day era.

The final tweaking of the glove, deepening the pockets and closed backs for even greater control, and finally basket webs so that pitchers could hide their pitching grip.

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