If you are a baseball historian who loves old baseball film footage, like I do, you will see that once the game started players would never bring their gloves into the dugout as long as they were in the game. The tradition lasted up until the 1950’s. After the third out was made, the fielders would leave their gloves on the field. The way people buy and work in gloves has changed over the years and in turn changed the tradition. This, and the cost of some of the gloves on the market right now would shock baseball players from the 1920’s and 30’s. I have found that the size of baseball gloves has always been an issue, especially with parents. When I was a youngster, I was fortunate that I lived on a block that played sports each and every day of the year no matter what the weather conditions were. All the kids were sports-orientated and even the young brothers were included in most games. I’m a lefty and there was only one other lefty who lived on our street. His name was Peter, who was three years older than me. I was lucky that whenever Peter grew out of his glove, I would inherit his lefty mitt. If his brother Mark was lefty, I probably would not have been the beneficiary, but it worked out for me. This situation gave me a few advantages. I didn’t have to bother my parents to buy a new glove all the time. And, unlike my friends, who did get new gloves, I didn’t have to break them in. Peter had done this by using it for a few years before he gave it to me. It turned out to be a great opportunity for me. A number of years ago I was fortunate to be invited to go to a baseball game at Yankee Stadium and had front row seats between 3rd base and home. This was the first time (and probably the last) that I will ever get close to those seats again. A bonus was that one of the people who invited me was a friend of the second baseman of the Yankees. After doing some of his warm-up drills he had a free moment and came over to acknowledge his friend and spoke with us for a few minutes. While we were conversing, I took notice of his glove. Being a second baseman I knew the glove could not be too big. But I was stunned at how small the glove actually was. In fact, I would swear that the glove was almost an exact outline of his hand. It was a learning moment for myself, who was just getting into coaching.
My oldest son loved baseball. We were both excited when I bought him his first baseball glove. I remember looking forward to working the glove in just like my dad helped me do the few times we bought a glove instead of getting one from my neighbor, Peter. When my dad got me my first glove, we used an oil to rub in it with a rag and put two baseballs in it and tied string around it. Every moment I had I would untie the string and throw a baseball into it and repeat this hundreds of times before wrapping the string around it before putting it to sleep. With my son’s glove, we did the appropriate treatment and he worked it in the same way I did. Now here is the mistake I made and so do many other parents. I attributed buying baseball gloves the same way we buy shoes for our kids as their feet grow. Every time I bought a new glove, I got one bigger than the last one. You do not need to buy a new glove for your kids every year or every other year. And you do not need a bigger glove each and every time you purchase one. You want your kids to have a glove they can control and catch the baseball comfortably. If the glove is too big, many times the player won’t be able to feel the ball going into it and may not instinctively close the glove to secure the baseball. This will hurt the player’s fielding performance. The experience I had seeing the Yankee second baseman’s glove was one of the best educations with gloves I ever had.
I located a chart that many people adhere to when purchasing a glove for their kids. Remember that certain leagues will have size limitations, so find out what sizes are acceptable. Here is some recommended sizes:
Age 8 & Under: 9-11 Inches
Age 9 to 13: 10-12 Inches
Age 13 to 18: 11-13 Inches
To me the recommended correct size is the size that works. Some more details about baseball gloves are the material. There are three basic types of baseball glove materials: cowhide, pigskin and synthetics. To me it doesn’t matter what the material is as long as it works. I personally think what people pay for baseball gloves and bats are almost obscene. Let me give you a hint that I have used before and that has worked for many families. In your neighborhood, locate one or two families that have older kids who may be in college, or even graduated college. On a Sunday afternoon, walk over with your kids and ring the bell. Introduce yourself as a neighborhood family and that you know the children in the house have grown and if they are interested in getting rid of some old baseball equipment. More often than not you will away with some excellent worked in baseball goods. If you get the woman of the house, she will lay down a red carpet and take you into the garage or basement and give you anything you want.
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Another hint. If your son is a catcher, try to get one that is broken in already. I always advise leagues for teams to have a new glove each year that is their practice catcher’s glove and it is up to that team to use it in practice working it in for next year’s team. In summing up, make sure when you purchase your son or daughter’s gloves, they are big enough to control, but not too big. Remember when talking about baseball gloves, bigger is not always better.
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