There are few pieces of sports equipment as personal and cherished as baseball gloves, and it's not all nostalgia at work. Baseball gloves need to be carefully chosen and broken in by players from the little leagues all the way to the professional level. Baseball bats break, balls get lost, but the glove, to most players, is irreplaceable.
Over the years, baseball gloves have evolved and become more specialized. No longer are the gloves interchangeable by position. In-fielders generally like a smaller glove to make the transfer to the throwing hand that much shorter, while outfielders like lots of webbing for those spectacular leaping over-the-wall catches. So, knowing your position is the first step in purchasing the right baseball glove.
Another choice to consider is open web versus closed web. The web of a baseball glove is the patch of leather connecting the thumb and index finger where the ball is caught. An open web uses crisscrossed pieces of leather while a closed web is a solid piece. The general consensus is that open webs catch and control the ball better, while closed webs allow for a quicker transfer to the throwing hand. For this reason, short stops and second baseman usually benefit from a closed web design, while corner infielders are better off with an open web. The choice, however, is up to each player. There are many pros that choose contrary to this belief, and still play great baseball.
Once you decide what style of baseball gloves best suit you, it's time to buy one. The most obvious consideration is the quality of the leather. Good quality leather will be easier to break in, age better over time, and form a better fit on both the hand and the ball. Then, it's up to the player to break his or her glove in using a variety of techniques. Experts recommend using oil made exclusively for softening up baseball gloves so as not to inadvertently damage the leather.
Another thing to consider when looking at baseball gloves is whether it is for a growing hand or not. For youths, an adjustable wrist strap is a feature that may make sense to accommodate a growing hand. They are also great if the glove is going to be used by more than one person. High quality baseball gloves, however, usually omit this feature and instead provide a snug fit on the user's hand right out of the box. Make sure the glove fits comfortably and won't fall off during play. Female gloves are available that provide narrower finger holes to accommodate the smaller hand sizes.
Carefully chosen baseball gloves can last a long time if cared for, so it's best not to leave it in the garage. Store it in a cool, dry place and oil it occasionally to prevent the leather from drying out.