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Breaking in a Baseball Glove

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When you first get a new leather glove, it can be very stiff and hard to use. Here are tips to softening and breaking it in for use on the baseball diamond or just to play catch.


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February 27, 20050 found this helpful

Did you know that you can use Vaseline instead of oil to soften the leather of a baseball glove? Works just fine!

By Robin

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May 28, 20070 found this helpful

I've played ball for 50 years! & this is one trick i have learned, beleave me the best way to break in a ball glove OR shoes is with (isopropyl rubbing alcohol !!!) NO oil NO grease NO vaseline all which will let dirt sand & other things stick in & on your glove! take the rubbing alcohol bottle & soak it --play catch--soak it--play catch do this 6 or 7 times !! some gloves it looks like some color is comming off,but they always look fine & it dosen't hurt them at all. (shoes) my friend always gets shoes a half size too small--soaks them then runs in them 3 0r 4 times & they form fit to his feet !! (yes you can do it with white shoes)

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March 14, 20070 found this helpful

The best way to break in a baseball glove is to use it, but here's a way to speed up the process. The goal of breaking it in is to create a nice pocket for the ball and soften the leather. Apply a dab of shaving cream to the center of the glove and then put a baseball in the pocket. Secure the glove closed by tying a shoelace around the glove and put it between your mattresses overnight.

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April 21, 20090 found this helpful

Very interesting and time tested advice! It is almost exactly how we got my son's first TeeBall glove started, five years ago and yet, the advice was first given 60-80 years ago.

Back then, all baseball gloves were leather inside and out. They were made from heavy tough hides and were padded with raw wool. They were even laced using Rawhide, the toughest leather lacing you can get. Man, those mitts could get uncomfortable if they were allowed to dry out in the sun. They would wear your hands raw. I used to see news reels of teens beating on their gloves with baseball bats, trying to soften them up again.

It is also interesting to note that Shaving Cream in those days, contained plenty of Lanolin and Glycerin, which is now the unprintable "secret formula" in those mysteriously unmarked $5 foam treatments for mitts. It is sold in most Sporting Good stores in one or two ounce cans.

Today's shaving cream contains distilled water and some skin softeners, but not much. The key words today is "cheapest."

Only one in a hundred kinds of shaving cream contains lanolin and glycerin ingredients anymore. When you can find it, the good stuff will also contain some aloe and three or four kinds of natural vitamins in it. It is actually better than the old stuff. It is usually referred to as "Medicated shaving cream, with Menthol"... menthol being-- peppermint extract. Which all together gives you quite a sensation, particularly if you rub it in your eye....chuckle.

My baseball gloves seem to like it too. Last year I bought four cans of the good shaving cream, 10 to 12 ounces in each can; for under $2/can.

It is a fun glove treatment during the Season. I have yet to meet a young player that doesn't love to put a pile of it in his mitt. When rubbed in, it drys in about 5 minutes and leaves a white residue. I encourage the boys to use a rag to wipe it off the seams and anyplace it has built up in the corners. It is not the shaving cream I am after in those areas, because it is good for leather and nylon thread. It is even good for the balls they catch. But, it is the dirt build-up in those places that destroys stitches.

Without shaving cream applied, I have not been able to get even one child to wipe off their glove, no matter how dusty it is.

Baseball playing boys everywhere seem to love dirt. And Shaving cream. Even the ones who make millions per year, like JJ Putz... the shaving cream pie thrower.

So in conclusion, not enough was originally said about shaving cream, and not enough was said about which baseball gloves need to be tied closed with a ball in it. (All Tee Ball parents need to know that much, so they will put the smallest away rubber banded around a ball). Neither was there enough said about WHICH gloves need to be put between the mattresses without a ball in them: True mitts, go in folded and can stay in there for weeks. Middle infield gloves need to be short, wide and flat with their finger tips firm and splaying outward, so don't put them in there folded, ever.

Outfielder gloves and softball gloves, OK. Put a ball in the first night, and anytime after you have cleaned them. It won't hurt them, and who knows; it might still help.

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April 9, 20050 found this helpful

My son just started baseball he has played for a few years. This year he had to get a new glove. Can anyone give us an idea on how to break it in. He has a game and we need to get his glove broke in before the game.

Thank you

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By guest (Guest Post)
March 24, 20080 found this helpful

Put some olive oil in it or any kind of oil in it then put it in the microwave for about a minute then play a good game of catch.

Editor's Note: I don't know about putting a glove in the microwave. I'd be afraid it would damage it. I have never tried it but I'd use caution.

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 12, 20080 found this helpful

I prefer the old fashioned way. The best way is to just keep whipping git into your glove to form your perfect pocket. I do use glove conditioner the first day and not again until the color of the pocket wears off a bit. But in the beginning apply glove oil (any kind) and whip the ball into your glove repeatedly. Whenever you get tired, simply place the ball in an area you'd like to form and put it under your mattress(fingers part down). Make sure you treat it like its your girlfriend, show it love, care and treat it to the finer things in life hahahaha. It'll give you everything in return.

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By guest (Guest Post)
April 24, 20080 found this helpful

Rub pocket of glove with lanolin oir shaving cream.This will soften the leather. Wrap it with a ball in the pocket and play a lot of catch.....DON'T PUT A LEATHER GLOVE IN WATER OR OVEN.....

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By guest (Guest Post)
June 9, 20080 found this helpful

Play catch, use it and be competeitive and more importantly have fun.

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By guest (Guest Post)
July 3, 20080 found this helpful

I watched something on t.v. and Orlando Cabrerra said he puts his glove in a microwave to get it nice and soft. I tried it. All I did was put it in the microwave for about 45 seconds, then took a stick taped to a baseball and pounded it for a while to get the form of your hand and also makes it softer. Wait about 5 minutes and put it back in the microwave and pound it again. Repeat this it should get it soft. Ive only been doing this for about 10 minutes and its already getting soft. So keep doing this it should be soft and formed to your hand without using any oils or anything like that.

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December 12, 20080 found this helpful

If you are still interested...I have a proprietary process that creates flexability in a new glove, making it playable in days, not weeks or months. I don't use heat, oil or harmful chemicals in this process. Call 203-487-8997, leave your name, number and the day you called. I will return your call by ASAP. YOU WON'T REGRET IT.

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By guest (Guest Post)
February 17, 20090 found this helpful

Rub Vaseline or shaving cream all over it until it's rubbed in, it makes the glove smoother. After that, put a ball in it tie it with a rubber band or something so that the ball stays in the glove & put it under your mattress. Your glove will then be perfect!

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March 27, 20090 found this helpful

I have in the past searched the web for the best way to condition a leather baseball glove since I more or less collect them and I have never seen so many suggestions and poor ones at that as to how to condtion a leather baseball glove. Start with saddle to clean it. Then rub in lanolin (hydrous type) using a damp sponge. Do this until you feel the glove has benn treated sufficently. Apply LEXOL again sparaingly two or three times , wiping off access and allowing the glove to air dry between applications. This process takes time but the glove will last longer. Buy a regulation hard ball (softball), drill a 3/4 inch diameter hole about an inch deep. Using a "super glue" secure a dowel in the hole then cut the dowel length to suit. Use this to hammer a pocket in the glove. This method will save wear and tear and your throwing arm. Should the glove be a brand new glove the use of saddle to clean it at this time won't be necessary but should be used at the close of the season before "retiring it to the closet shelf".

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April 21, 20090 found this helpful

Poor kid probably couldn't flex his new glove when he went to his next game.

Obviously, the above "typical baseball Mom," Kate, asked the above question prior to the 2005 season We are now starting into the 2009 season. It sounds like they had days or hours until her son's first game. Her problem is long gone but the identical question is still asked a thousand times a year on a hundred baseball sites.

So. What's the answer now that the newest readers understands the question better than most of the following helpful crew:

1. First, irst, first. Don't confuse the slang term "breaking in a glove" with the process of carefully maintaining it for years with oils and creams. "Breaking it in" means: the once in its lifetime process of stretching of the palm, its pocket, and strategic lacing - to its limit without (slang) "busting it"

So.Why risk perfectly stretching a glove, perhaps to its breaking point, when only one out of 2500 ball players even bother?

Because it takes things to the next level.

Once it is stretched, it probably will "play" better ball its whole playing life; or it will soon reveal some of its cantankerous ailments in time to treat it ("spot work" on its tough parts) with oils and shaving cream. Worse yet, a cantankerous glove may even require using a disgusting "loogie" (spit) during a game or practice. A mitt that is too cantankerous, gets replaced ASAP because its a lot of trouble, and because your team hates catching your spit balls,,, so you might as well find out early.

2. If you, a working normal parent, suddenly discover there is only a day or even hours left to do all the "break in" work that takes most kids 5 seasons to complete; WELL OK, you merely have to take a couple risks. Forget the greasy exotic glove oils and any fried mitt cooking recipes, unless you want to "make do" with a mitt that still is not broken in.

Focus on what "breaking in" means. Go straight to the nearest mechanical batting cages with the mitt, about $10, and a thick leather work glove.

3. Find the fastest hardball pitching machine they have (usually the 60-80mph cage). Put your hand in the work glove and stuff them both into your son's new mitt. If your son is right handed, go stand on the Lefty side of the plate and have your son fire up the machine.

Do not let your youngster in the cage with you- because you might deflect a pitch to him, or (chuckle) you might smother him when a pitch knocks you down.

Now, this part is VERY important: If you stand directly in front of the 80mph machine pitched ball; and just stick your mitt out front trying to "hard hand" catch an 80mph heavy rubber jug ball; you are going to bruise yourself and "bust" even a medium quality mitt. Even if you land on your rear, six feet back of the plate. The next pitch might hit you in the face so wear a good helmet like a responsible parent does.

To succeed with your task:

You must use a "soft hand" style from the side of the plate; twisting and reaching forward, and immediately giving way at least three feet with your arm and body on every impacting pitch. Think of yourself as a human shock absorber during the process. If you can hold on to about half of the first set, as they try to tear the mitt off your hand, you are breaking in his mitt in the fastest possible way.

Take a breather in between sets; and nurse your hands and swelling wrist for awhile, because it will let the glove/mitt retract a little. Throbbing and swelling while doing your part is common, but will only lasts a few minutes to an hour after you are done, IF you did it correctly. Believe me, you will get better at catching juggs with professionally softer hands, and you will NEVER forget your lesson as long as you live.

So, be tough, and get back in there for more sets, as soon as the glove seems to have retracted a bit.

3. Even if it takes you all $10, you need at least 50 really good attempts at hanging on to the heavy impacting fast balls (balls that glance off the side or miss the glove do not count).

Absolutely make no more than 100 good catches even on a premium glove like an A2000 catchers mitt. Nothing can take that kind of a heavy ball pounding forever, and besides; once it is ready it - is ready for its life. Do not try to break in a glove twice.

If you are easily addicted to temporary pain, and are a glutton for punishment; go buy your son's next "new" baseball glove and break it in too. Who knows, you might find out your hand is broken tomorrow. But if it's not, then play catch with him every chance you get, using both new gloves, because you've earned it.

Be certain to always remind him that as good as he is, he is always Lucky when he lets you help him. You will not be lying. My 8yr old demanded that I let him help me break in his 2nd Catcher's mitt, and he actually held on to a couple in the first set. Now, I will always be able to remind him that he was Lucky I was there to catch the other 98, and always will be.

Back to the subject.

4. Examine the "broken in" glove carefully and often during the process, to make certain the glove is a survivor. If you have 24 hours after breaking it in; clean the palm and pocket with saddle soap (glycerin exactly as directed) so there will not be any grime or grease left over from contact with jugg balls or whatever dirty baseballs he has used during prior practices. Always remember, whatever was on the ball, is now on the surface of his glove, and that is bad.

From that point on, during that season but particularly AFTER any muddy or dusty games; rub in plenty of a shaving cream that contains at least lanolin and and glycerin, and hopefully also contains vitamins and softeners like aloe. It is harder to find good stuff, but big chains carry it. A good shaving cream will dry in 5 minutes if the air is not to humid.

Ladies, I know what you are thinking but. don't use hand lotion because there is too much water in it and it takes too long to dry. The distilled water in shaving cream wets the main leather just enough to allow the good stuff in through the tanned outside, and because shaving cream contains very small amounts of water and foamy soap, it will not drain into lacing holes, or seams of the mitt. Typically it just foams over holes until it drys white. The white color on the holes helps the owner remember to wipe the infield dirt and the white residue out of the seams, the corners, and lacing of the mitt.**

** Dirt left in the seam's small holes is what wears out nylon seams. Infield dirt is like sand paper as leather hits leather, not to mention that it is mixed with lime and paint from the diamond's markings.

Use your head: Never soak a good leather glove by using it during rain or in wet grass. There are plenty of vinyl and rubber mixed mitts out there that are blatantly pretending to be leather on the sale racks, so get one and mistreat it. Vinyl is waterproof but it soon hardens, splits, flakes, melts, and tears at the seams. Who knows what Chinese vinyl is even colored with (probably lead paint mixed in).

If you tried to "break in" a vinyl glove, you would find it breaking into four pieces before the first set was done. While soaking wet leather will "bust" a hundred times easier than dry leather or vinyl; and I have seen jagged fingernails slice through wet leather glove; more importantly I have seen cracked vinyl slice an inch of skin off many a young player's throwing hands... Not once have I seen it done by a leather glove.

So... consider a $20 vinyl mitt to be a good rainy day investment toward preserving your favorite glove, and simply throw them away at the end of every season.

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January 7, 20100 found this helpful

You can run over it with a car, I know doesn't sound like it will work, but it does. Another option is to put it under a mattress or just the simplest one, play baseball with it.

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