Baseball gloves make a statement, by the way they look and perform. A well-measured glove can give you the right fit, increasing your ability to catch the ball. But the proper glove goes beyond a measurement. Good leather, the cut of the mitt and the unique demands of your position all play a role in finding the best fit.
Position Player Gloves
Most baseball gloves will list their size in inches. The measurement, ranging from eight to 15, is usually stamped on the inside of the thumb or pinky. Sometimes you can find the size on the outside of the glove along the edges. Measure a glove without a size listing using a fabric tape measure. Pinch the end of the tape to the center of the heel of the glove and measure to the tip of the pointer finger through the palm. Gloves usually measure in whole numbers and halves, such as 11 or 11.5 inches.
Catcher's mitts don't have separated fingers, so they aren't called gloves. And since there are no fingers, you can't measure a mitt like you would a glove. But like gloves, catcher's mitt sizes are usually stamped on the leather, listed in inches and ranging from 29 to 35 -- the measurement of the catching surface's circumference. Measure a catcher's mitt by laying it out as flat as possible on a table, palm side up. Drape a cloth tape measure around the edge of the catching surface.
Not all gloves are made the same. A 12-inch glove from one brand might catch differently than a 12-inch glove from another. One pocket might be deeper and another glove might be wider, despite being the same size in inches. Soft leather and synthetic materials found in less expensive gloves will stretch and bend, making the glove play bigger. Stiff, pro-quality leather takes weeks to break in, but it will hold form for years, playing the same for a long period of time. You can also tighten or loosen the laces for a better fit.
Try Them On
Popular sports stores have a limited selection of quality leather. And while it may seem easier to find high-end gloves online, it is important to try the glove on before purchase. The hand fit can vary from glove to glove, even inside the same make. If you need to order a glove online, go to a sports store and try on the company's lesser quality gloves. Get a feel for how they cut the leather and make an educated purchase.
Different Gloves for Different Positions
Pitchers prefer 11.5- to 13-inch gloves with closed webs, hiding the grip of the pitch. First basemen use specially designed mitts measuring about 13 inches, making for a big target that can be seen from across the field. Infielders, who need ball control to scoop grounders and turn double plays, choose open-web gloves that measure less than 12 inches. Outfield gloves are long with deep pockets, measuring 13 inches or more. Some pro ballplayers put their pinky and ring finger into the pinky slot together, sliding the other fingers over and leaving the pointer finger slot empty. This expands the pocket and gets your palm out of the way to reduce sting.