History of the Outfield and Infield Gloves

The game of Baseball goes back as far as the Civil War. In those early days they didn’t play the game with gloves they used their bare hands. If you put yourself in their place just think of the number of errors you would have in the field. Think about the pitcher that had to catch all the balls thrown back to him from all positions. The hardest position would have been the catcher who would have to catch those 90 plus MPH fastballs.

In the early days of Baseball it was considered a part of the game to have bruised hands from catching the balls. In 1870 a catcher by the name of Doug Allison was the first player recorded as using a glove. He played for the Cincinnati Red Stockings and had caught several games that week. His hands were split and bruised, so he decided to wear a glove to protect them from further damage. He got laughed at and mocked by his teammates for being too soft.

It was five years later before another player put on a glove during a game. In 1875 Charles Waitt an outfielder and First Baseman put on gloves for protection. He tried to hide it by using flesh colored gloves. He also, was mocked for use of the gloves by his teammates.

In 1877 pitching great Albert Spalding wore a black glove during a game and didn’t receive any backlash from his teammates. He began inserting pads under the gloves to provide more protection to his hand. Gloves began to be more accepted for use and later even considered a safety standard for the game. Rawlings even received a patent for the design of a glove in 1885.

Bid McPhee was the last hold out to not wearing a glove. It was 1896 when he finally agreed to use a glove. That season he only had 15 errors, which was greatly reduced from his previous season of 45.

Early gloves were something like leather work gloves with no padding and the finger tips cut off so the player still had control of the ball. There have been many innovations to the glove to bring it to what we have today. In 1920 Bill Doak suggested that pocket be created by placing a web between the thumb and the first finger of the glove. Gloves have continually grown in size. Eventually it got to the size that the glove was worn on one hand and the other hand was used to trap the ball in the pocket and then throw the ball.

The gloves began to be designed for the position that was being played. The first base mitt, the catchers mitt, pitchers gloves, infielders gloves, and outfielders gloves. In 1889 Harry Decker sewed a glove on to the back of a pillow with a shape similar to the design we see today. The flex hinge mitt was introduced in 1950. It had a break in the overstuffed padding opposite the pocket to help the first basemen and catchers squeeze the two halves together. The catchers mitt grew to a whopping 45 inch circumference until being regulated at 38 inches in 1965. The closed web pocket was originally designed so that pitchers could conceal their pitching grip on the ball until they pitched the ball.

There have been many improvements to the baseball glove through the years. The game of Baseball has improved as well, with the changes in the gloves.

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