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Glove Buying Guide

Sizing Chart

Use the chart below as a general guideline for determining glove size.

Age

Position

Glove Size

5-6

General

9 1/2" to 10 1/2" (youth model)

7-8

General

10 1/2" to 11" (youth model)

9-12

General

11" to 11 1/2"

High School/Adult

Infield

11" to 11 3/4" (based on position)

High School/Adult

Outfield

12" to 12 3/4" (based on position)

 

 

Glove Buying Information

 

 

How to Measure Baseball Gloves
Fielders gloves and first base mitts are measured by starting at the top of the index finger of the glove down the finger along the inside of the pocket and then out to the heal of the glove.

A flexible tape measure has to be used, not a stiff ruler. Measure from the highest point on the glove (normally the index finger). Lay the tape measure across the palm of the glove, so that it folds across and into the indenture, down to the heel of the glove.

 

 

Glove Quality
Higher quality baseball gloves and mitts are usually distinguished by higher grade leather, better construction and better design. These work together to produce a glove or mitt that is durable and helps the ball into and out of the pocket. The highest quality gloves are usually made of heavy leather that will need some time to break-in and typically do not have palm pads or Velcro adjustments.

 

 

Break-In
Most manufacturers agree that a glove oil or leather conditioner cream should be used as long as it does not contain silicon. Most manufacturers recommend not using anything that requires a microwave or an oven.

 

 

Gloves vs Mitts
The main difference between baseball 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. First base and Catcher are the only positions allowed to use mitts.

 

 

Female Gloves
Baseball gloves and mitts that are specified as women's or female are usually designed with narrower finger stalls and smaller wrist openings to provide a better fit.

 

 

Youth Gloves
Youth baseball gloves and mitts typically are designed to be easy to break-in and will sometimes have a notch in the heel to help the glove break-in correctly. These gloves are usually designed with smaller finger and wrist openings to better fit smaller hands, and often have oversized pockets to aid youth players learning how to catch.

 

 

First Base Mitts
Most first base mitts are designed for baseball use and are 12 to 12 1/2 inches. First base mitts have a thin but stiff pad that runs around the circumference of the mitt and little or no padding in the palm or finger area. Larger baseball first base mitts can be effectively used by softball players. Some manufactures will make softball specific first base mitts. These are usually 13 inches or larger and are not very common.

 

 

Catchers Mitts
Baseball catcher's mitts usually have a very thick pad around the circumference of the mitt and thick padding in the palm and finger area and a small pocket. Softball catcher's mitts are similar to baseball catcher's mitts except with less padding and a much larger pocket.

 

 

Open vs Closed Web
For most positions, an open web vs a closed web is a matter of personal preference. Open web gloves tend to trap the ball a little better than closed web gloves. Closed web gloves tend to get the ball out of the pocket a little quicker. First and Third base players tend to prefer open web gloves. Middle infielders tend to want closed web gloves to help get the ball out of the glove quickly. Pitchers usually want closed web gloves so they can hide the ball easier.

 

 

Conventional Back vs Closed Back
Conventional (open) vs closed back is mainly a matter of style and personal preference. Conventional back gloves tend to be a little lighter and can fit a bit tighter in the wrist. Some closed back gloves have straps with Velcro that allow you to adjust how tight or loose the glove fits.

 

 

 

Glove Buying Tips

 

 

Price
A good glove does not have to be expensive. There are gloves that will give many seasons of satisfactory service for under $75. You can pay more, but more money does not necessarily mean a better, more serviceable glove. There are expensive gloves ($150-$300) which may last one or two seasons, and there are inexpensive baseball gloves that can last for ten years or more with routine maintenance.

The more expensive gloves do tend to use better (often heavier) leather than less expensive gloves. All things being equal, with careful maintenance, the higher quality glove should last longer.

 

 

Size
Select a glove for the position you will be playing most often. Use the chart at the top of this page as a general guideline for determining glove size. A glove should feel fairly snug when adjusted. Check to make sure the glove adjusts to your hand. Allow room for batting glove if you wear one. Except for pitchers, most players should wear a batting glove inside their fielders glove. The batting glove will absorb most of the sweat from your hands, thus protecting the lining of your glove. Change the batting glove when it gets wet or rotted.

 

 

Quality
The leather should be fairly sturdy. A stiffer glove will have to be broken in, but once done, the glove will be serviceable for many seasons. The softer "pre-broken" gloves feel great, but many of them wear out very quickly and may be difficult or impossible to repair. The leather in the pre-broken gloves is usually thinner and therefore weaker than that in a sturdier glove. The thinner, softer leathers tend to show signs of stress at the lacing holes in the web and fingers after a few months of continuous play.

 

 

 

Glove Materials

 

 

Manufacturers usually tout a glove's materials whenever they are made of something considered "premium" enough to provide a selling point. If a glove is made of full-grain leather or premium steerhide, the two top grades, the manufacturer will definitely print that fact prominently on the glove. Top-quality leather makes the best gloves, but the reality is, for a kid's glove that will be outgrown and discarded after a few years, premium materials are nice but not crucial.

Here are the basic Leather Grades and Types used in Baseball & Softball Gloves:

 

 

Buffalo Skin
Buffalo skin is used by only one manufacturer, Nokona. Buffalo skin is said to be tougher and lighter than full grain steer hide, but breaks in just as easily. Most people aren't going to want to get a Little Leaguer a buffalo skin glove because of the high price, but if they want to, it's out there.

 

 

Full Grain Leather
"Full-Grain" leather is steer hide or cow hide leather on which the entire natural grain remains. It will either be the original thickness of the skin, or the bottom grain will have been sanded off until the leather is the desired thickness. This grade is uncommon in youth gloves, but is readily available in premium adult gloves that come in sizes suitable for older Little Leaguers. Although in theory full grain leather can be any weight, in practice, gloves made of full grain leather tend to be stiffer and heavier than other types, and require longer break-in periods. These leathers are rarely pre-oiled, because the players who buy gloves of this quality usually want to apply their own particular break-in method. Once broken in, full grain leather gloves are superior in both performance and durability. Catchers' mitts are almost always made of full grain leather or premium steer hide.

 

 

Top Grain Leather
"Top-Grain" leather" is a misnomer; it is usually leather in which the "top" grain (the fur side) is sanded off until the leather is a desired thickness, and then filled or treated, where an artificial grain is introduced, usually by pressing. Many baseball gloves probably are top grain leather, but the manufacturers may not always use the phrase to describe the leather. Often they use a brand name instead. Nokona is the only manufacturer that says its gloves use "top grain leather." In Nokona's case, the leather is heavy weight and very durable. Wilson's "Quick-Stop" leather is also a top grain leather, but it is medium weight and has average durability.

 

 

Premium Steer Hide
Steer hide, which comes from neutered bulls, is somewhat stronger than cow hide. Manufacturers are free to call any steer hide "premium," but in practice they reserve this designation for their better grades of heavy weight steer hide, usually top grain, occasionally full grain. Gloves made of this leather tend to be stiff and somewhat heavy, with longer break-in periods. These leathers are sometimes pre-oiled. Many manufacturers have gone away from premium steerhide both because the market now demands softer gloves, and to save money because few consumers know the difference.

 

 

Leather or Cow Hide
"Leather" means cow hide, usually medium weight, but sometimes heavy weight. This category encompasses the greatest range of quality. Cow hide performs well, and will break in faster, but also wear out faster than steer hide. Usually this grade will come "pre-oiled" or otherwise treated to reduce break-in time. Cow hide is probably the best all-around choice for a youth glove for ages 10 and up.

 

 

Kangaroo Skin
Kangaroo skin is stronger than steer hide of any grade, and weighs a fraction as much. It is fairly new to the baseball glove market, and what grades are being used is anybody's guess. Some manufacturers use kangaroo only in premium gloves, while others use it only in their budget baseball gloves. Early reports say it breaks in easily but doesn't hold its shape as well as the better cow hide or steer hide grades. Often gloves are made with steer hide or cow hide palms for durability, and kangaroo skin backs for light weight.

 

 

Pigskin
Pigskin is far less durable than cowhide. However, it is more flexible and breaks in far more easily than cowhide, and costs less. Pigskin gloves are inexpensive, and can be ideal for a youngster who wants a good-performing glove but who may grow out of it in a year.