Whether you’re a player, fan, or even just interested in baseball, you need a baseball glove. Even if you’re not planning to play a formal game of baseball, you still need a glove to play catch. For many Americans, playing catch in the backyard is an essential part of childhood. As baseball gains popularity around the world, more people are beginning to understand the simple joy of playing catch.
When buying a glove, you may be shocked by the number of options available. The style of a glove and the dollar value can vary greatly. Once you have found the perfect glove, the next step is to break it in.
Why do you need to break your glove in?
When you pick up a new baseball glove and try it on, the first thing you’ll realise is that it’s as stiff as a board. Leather, while being a durable material that can take the abuse of a baseball, is hard and nearly unbendable in a new baseball glove.
It’s important to be able to squeeze the glove closed to secure the ball. If you’ve ever caught a baseball with a brand-new glove, it’s likely it didn’t stay caught for long but instead fell right out of the glove onto the ground.
The leather in your glove needs to be softened up before you can use it as intended. Depending on the type and quality of leather in your glove, this could take days or weeks.
Tried and true methods
There are many methods that people use to break in their new glove. Some work, some don’t, and some are downright silly. Here are a few reliable methods that you can use to successfully break in your glove.
The old-fashioned way
By far, the most reliable way to break in a glove is by constant use. Get out there and play some catch. The more you use it, the more the glove will soften and mould to create the perfect fit for your hand. You can even just lie on the sofa, toss the ball in the air and catch it. A major advantage of breaking in your glove the old-fashioned way is that you’re not using any chemicals that could potentially harm the leather.
Using a glove mallet and warm water
Before trying this method, it’s important to note that using too much water can potentially dry out your glove. So be careful. You’ll need a glove mallet, a wooden tool that’s like a hammer with a ball shape at the end of it.
Fill a cup with warm (not boiling) water and pour it over your glove. Be careful not to soak the glove, as this could lead to over-drying. The warm water should make the glove more soft and malleable. Use the mallet to hammer and put pressure on the pocket of your glove, right where you would catch a ball. You can also do this with the glove on to get a better feel for it.
Using conditioners and oils
Many reputable baseball glove brands produce oils and conditioners designed to soften up leather and keep it durable. You can use small amounts of these products on your glove, rubbing them in gently with a soft cloth. Don’t use too much, however, or you could damage the leather.
What not to do
There are many less-than-reputable break-in methods out there. Some of them make some sense, while others are just nonsensical.
Don’t bake it like it’s a cake
Many people swear by putting a new glove in the oven to break it in. The thought process behind this method is that the heat will soften the leather up. While this may be true at first, the hot air of your oven will suck all the moisture out of your glove, drying it out.
Don’t cover it with shaving cream
Using shaving cream to break in a baseball glove has been a common method for years. Years ago, shaving cream contained a natural oil called lanolin, which is, in fact, a good leather conditioner. However, hardly any shaving creams contain lanolin anymore, but instead contain plenty of artificial compounds and chemicals that have no business being anywhere near leather. These chemicals can dry out and break down your glove’s leather.
Breaking in a new baseball glove is going to take time. While there are several methods that can help speed up the process, the best way to break in your glove is through constant use. So, get out there and play some catch.