There is no other sport where a piece of equipment plays such a crucial role as the glove does to baseball. Anyone can play basketball with just a ball - but in baseball, the glove truly is a part of the player.
A number of factors are involved in choosing a baseball glove to meet your needs, including size, your position and your budget. Anyone looking to buy a baseball glove should make the following considerations.
Baseball Gloves come in different shapes and sizes based on the position they will be used for. For example, pitchers gloves and infield gloves are generally smaller than an outfielder’s glove, and first baseman’s gloves and catchers mitts are unique unto themselves. If you will be playing multiple positions, a utility glove (which is larger than an infielder’s glove) may be your best bet.
Baseball gloves range in price from under $15 for base models, to over $200 for high end gloves from manufacturers such as Nokona or Rawlings. Quality baseball gloves generally cost a bit more, but will likely last longer. If you expect to get heavy use out of your baseball glove, it may be less expensive in the long run to spend a few dollars more on a glove that will last. Additionally, younger players who may quickly outgrow their baseball glove may not want to invest in a high end model.
Make sure to choose a baseball glove that feels right for you. If the glove is uncomfortable, it may affect your performance in the field.
Your Age / Size of the Glove
Baseball gloves come in many different sizes made to fit different ages, positions and games (softball gloves). Gloves are measured by their “pattern size”, a measurement from the heel of the glove (by your wrist) to the top of the glove on the palm side (near your fingers). Youth gloves range from 8″ (very small) to about 12″. Adult gloves usually fall in the 12″-13″ range. Professional gloves are actually required by the rules to be no more than 12″, although the rule is rarely to never enforced: Rule 1.14 …”not more than twelve inches long, nor more than eight inches wide, measured from the base of the thumb crotch to the outer edge of the glove..”
General Sizing Guidelines:
Outfielders – 12″-13″ gloves
Infielders & Pitchers 10 3/4″ – 12″ gloves
Adult Softball Gloves: 12″ – 14″
Youth baseball gloves should be chosen carefully – a common mistake is to buy a big glove for a little kid. This often results in a younger child with a huge glove on their hand that they can’t even close. Youth sizes range from 9″-11″. 8 year old can often use 11″ gloves, while teenagers often may fit into 12″ gloves.
Types of Webs & Backs
Open Web: Preferred by Outfielders and Third Basemen
Closed Web: Preferred by Middle Infielders and Pitchers
Open & Closed Back: Individual Preference, though middle infielders like open back.
Gloves By Position
Catchers Gloves: More of a mitten than a glove, they are heavily padded (needed when catching fastballs all game long) and are not used at any other position.
First Base Gloves: First basemen’s gloves resemble a catchers mitt in that they are heavily padded (as first basemen spend their days catching balls thrown very hard). They are also longer in order to help the first basemen more easily field balls.
Infield Gloves: Infield gloves are smaller gloves (generally 10 1/2 ” – 12″) so that the fielder can easily pull the ball out of the glove and throw it. Too large of a glove would result in increased time needed to retrieve the ball and throw it to base – very important when a game can be decided by a tenth of a second.
Outfielders Gloves: Outfielders gloves are larger and longer (12″ +), to provide fielders with the greatest possible advantage at catching fly balls.