I've always had a special affection for the baseball glove, and even won an Associated Press award for a commmentary [see The Glove] about the outerwear. So when I heard that a representive was going to meet the media I wasn't about to miss the chance, though it meant a drive to an out of town ballpark. Plus, they were offering a free re-stringing of mitts- which although I do it myself, I was interested to see how the pros did it.
A review of the baseball glove.. it's past and present and some how-to tips on keeping it ready to make the next game-winning grab... with ROY CONRAD, from the Rawlings Glove Company of St. Louis, Missouri.
JULY 1993 4:35
Ten years before George and Alfred Rawlings opened their retail sporting goods
store in downtown St.Louis, baseball gloves were really gloves, in the infancy of
both the game and hand apparel. Roy Conrad is a Promotions Representative for
Rawlings Sporting Goods.
CONRAD: The glove that they used back in 1877 looked more like a workman's glove with
the fingers cut out of it with a padded palm. They wore one on each hand, caught the
ball two handed, and they could still throw the ball with a glove on their hand. The
next one that is really unique is the 1920 Bill Doak model.
And that's the first time anybody ever put a web in a glove. And they actually
ran some lace through the thumb and the forefinger.
Gloves have evolved with greater sizes and stronger webs over the years. But it
wasn't until the 1950s that major league baseball imposed specific regulations on how
big a mitt vould be.
CONRAD: The main concern we have to look after for the major league glove is the 12
inch rule. To measure a glove, if you strat at the forefinger on the pocket of the
glove and measure down through the palm and right out the heel, in can be no longer
than 12 inches. First base and catchers they normally let wear a little longer glove.
With major league infielders, you don't have to worry about that anyway because they
wear gloves that are only 10 and a half inches or 11 inches long. The outfielders
are usually the guys that'll wear a little bit longer.
Most major league infielders will stay with a glove for a few years before moving
on a new one. Ozzie Smith of the St.Louis Cardinals is an exception.
CONRAD: Ozzie Smith is the only player that I know of who uses a really super stiff
glove, brand new- almost off the shelf. And he's got a different style of playing
than most players. He two-hands about everything he goes after. He wants a real
stiff glove, and he goes through a new glove about every six weeks.
The typical infielder's glove differs from the normal outfielder's equipment in
the overall feel and fit.
CONRAD: Actually the infielders are the ones who are real finicky with their gloves.
They like a little harder, newer glove than what an outfielder wants. The infielder
want their hand to fit completely inside the glove so they can feel where the ball is
at. On the double play for instance, the second baseman can not take time to look for
the ball in his glove. when he catches the ball he has to know exactly where it's at
so he can get it out of there as quick as he can. In contrast, the outfielder likes
a little longer glove and wants it to be nice and floppy. He's worried about catching
the ball, not so much about the quick play back to the infield
New equipment should get a very light oil treatment. Thereafter, the palm of the
glove should be oiled consistently- that's where the material constantly bends back
and forth. The leather will crack without constant attention.
CONRAD: It's not a bad idea to clean your glove every now and then, especially if
you're playing in a real dusty, sandy area. Use a shaving cream with lanolin. The
shaving cream will help clean the leather. The lanolin will help treat the leather.
And with baseball of softball gloves, I recommend keeping a softball in the pocket.
And anytime you store it, you want to have something filling the pocket. In the
major leagues they have something that looks like a half of a batting helmet without
a bill, that they stick into their gloves. And most major league players will do
that before they ever put that glove in their locker. They want that pocket to stay
open, naturally. You don't want to have to worry about keeping the pocket open
while you're going after a ball.
The most common or injury or breakage to a glove occurs to the lacing: through
the fingers- which drag constantly in the dirt and at the heel- where sweat from
the player's palm seeps down. Moisture is a mitt's worst enemy. Rawlings uses USA
cowhide for its product, hide from the back of the cow.
CONRAD: Now for our top-of-the-line glove, we use Texas steer hide because it's a
thicker hide. But it's always been cow hide. Now you'll find some vinyl gloves on
the market and some gloves with mesh backs. We don't recommend either. Vinyl and mesh
does not break in- they stay stiff. Cowhide or leather is still the only thing that
will actually break in, soften up and be really be super-flexible and that's what you
want in a ball glove. Make sure your glove is made out of cowhide.
Rawlings began issuing its coveted Gold Gloves in 1957 to major leaguers,
signifying fielding excellence.
CONRAD: And it goes through what we call a gold leafing process. And it looks like a
metal glove on the stand but it's actually a gold glove that is flexible, you could
take it out on the field and actually play with it. And when we present the Gold Gloves
to the players, if he's wearing a Rawlings glove, he gets the identical glove that
he wears in the field.
Roy Conrad, Promotions Representative for the Rawlings Sporting Goods company.
Bill Flynn, WXXI 1370.