Baseball is an exciting and fast-paced sport and one of the most popular sports in America. Apart from the obvious equipment needed to play baseball, which includes a bat and the baseball itself, players also use certain safety equipment called mittens, often called baseball gloves, or humorously referred to as “oven mitts,” when playing the game.
Mittens are used as safety equipment in baseball. There are a variety of baseball mittens available, each made for playing a different position. All the varieties of mittens are used for the same purpose, which is to protect the player’s hand from sustaining an injury while playing baseball.
Although the purpose of all mittens is the same, each type of mitten differs slightly from the other as its design is slightly different, so it is best suited for protecting players in various positions on the baseball field. The correct mitten for you to get should you want to play baseball depends directly on your role on the field.
Why Baseball Players Wear Mittens
Baseball players wear mittens to protect their hands and fingers and prevent them from sustaining an injury while playing the sport. They are used as safety equipment for the player’s hands, and there are a few known variations of baseball mittens available. There are variations in mittens because each baseball field position has unique demands requiring different types of mittens.
Functions Of Different Types Of Baseball Mittens
The different baseball mittens available are each fittingly named after the position they are made for. There are eight types of baseball mittens that one can come across.
Catchers’ mittens are quite large and are designed with a clam-like shape to present a good pitching target for the pitcher. These mittens have extra padding to protect the catcher’s hand when receiving the ball from a pitch at extremely high speeds. Catcher’s mittens have closed webs, much like the webs of pitcher’s mitts, to ensure the ball does not rip through it when receiving it.
A pitcher is a baseball player who pitches the ball to the batter. Being a pitcher is an infield position, so these mittens are relatively similar in size to other infield gloves. Pitchers do not do much fielding, so the pocket size of the glove and the depth do not matter as much as they would in other positions.
Pitcher’s gloves, however, are designed with webs that are exclusively closed so that their grip on the ball is concealed so that the batters cannot see how they are holding the ball. They are designed in this way because some pitchers have “tells” as to how they plan to pitch the next ball, which the batters can identify by looking at how they grip the ball before pitching it.
First Base Mittens
First Base mittens are very different from other infield baseball mittens as they are much larger and do not have individual fingers. The gloves are designed with a large surface area, so fellow fielders have a bigger target to throw at, allowing throws to be more accurate.
Due to the first baseman often having to field low or wide throws, the first base mittens are designed with a curved edge which aids them in scooping balls from the dirt.
Second Base Mittens
Second base mittens are designed with the smallest surface area and the shallowest pockets, which help the fielder retrieve the ball quickly and helps to ensure the ball doesn’t get stuck in a deep pocket. The design of these mittens is very lightweight, making it much easier to maneuver so that players can quickly field and get rid of the ball.
These mittens are designed with many webs, making the gloves more lightweight using less material. The larger holes in the webs also prevent dirt from collecting in the gloves, which is ideal as second basemen are always scooping up balls in the infield.
Third Base Mittens
Third base is often called the “hot corner” because some of the hardest balls hit by a batter travel towards this position on the field. The primary concern for a third baseman is catching the ball rather than how fast they do it.
Third-base mittens are designed in such a way that they are slightly bigger and more elongated so that the player can knock the ball down should they not be able to catch it. It has a much deeper and more well-defined pocket, making it easier for the player to catch the ball and hold onto it.
Shortstop mittens are designed in a very similar way to the mittens that second basemen use. The difference between the two types of mittens is that shortstop mittens are designed to be a bit longer than other infield mittens because shortstops need a longer fielding range than other infielders.
Outfield mittens are designed to be much larger and longer, with deeper pockets than infield mittens. These mittens are designed in this way so that outfielders can have a bigger surface area to catch the ball and be able to hold onto the ball they catch without having it slip out due to its deep-pocket design.
Sliding mittens are worn by the batter when running between bases to cover and protect a player’s hand to prevent an injury from happening when they are sliding headfirst into the base. The sliding mittens are made from a hard lining, plastic, and a strap of Velcro. Batters also wear compression straps to support their wrists for sliding into the base.
What Baseball Mittens Are Made From
Since mittens are used to protect the player’s hands, the material from which the mittens are made must be durable and effective at preventing injury to the player. Although there are variations of baseball mittens available, they’re all made from mostly the same materials.
Baseball mittens are all entirely made from leather, apart from the nylon thread which holds them together and small plastic reinforcements made at the base of the thumb and small finger. Certain mittens, such as catcher’s mittens, may also be made with extra padding, meaning that the mittens will have more layers of leather stitched onto the palm areas.
Baseball players wear mittens primarily to protect their hands and fingers from injury. However, different fielding positions in baseball have different mitten design requirements, and therefore there are different types of mittens one needs if they play in different positions on the field. Each mitten type is designed to suit the requirements for each position.
Each position in baseball has different, unique demands. Baseball mittens are designed according to each position to aid the player in carrying out the responsibilities and requirements of their position more effectively.