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Early baseball was a game played without gloves. During the slow transition to gloves, a player who continued to play without one was called a barehanded catcher. This did not refer to the position of Catcher, but rather to the practice of catching with bare hands. The earliest glove was not webbed and not particularly well suited for catching, but was used more to bat a ball to the ground so that it could be picked up. No doubt this lack of functionality contributed to the early resistance to the glove.


An 1885 glove patent.

One of the first players believed to use a baseball glove was Doug Allison, a catcher for the Cincinnati Red Stockings, in 1870, due to an injured left hand. The first documented story of glove use concerns Charles Waitt, a St. Louis outfielder/first baseman who in 1875 donned a pair of flesh-colored gloves. While glove usage was not accepted by all players at first, being considered "sissy" by many, it slowly caught on as more and more players began using different forms of gloves. "We used no mattress on our hands, No cage upon our face; We stood right up and caught the ball, With courage and with grace." That was the typical reaction from the "old-time" players when the gloves were first introduced.

Many early baseball gloves were simple leather gloves with the fingertips cut off, supposedly to allow for the same control of a bare hand, but with extra padding. The adoption of the baseball glove by baseball star Albert Spalding when he began playing first base influenced more infielders to begin using gloves. By the mid 1890s, it was the norm for players to wear gloves in the field. It was an ironic fate for Spalding, as he once was skeptical to don the new glove in baseball, but then rose to the occasion and did it. He afterwards created the sporting goods empire known as Spalding.

In 1920, Bill Doak, a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, suggested that a web be placed between the first finger and the thumb in order to create a pocket. This design soon became the standard for baseball gloves.


Since their beginnings, baseball gloves have grown. While catching in baseball had always been two handed, eventually, gloves grew to a size that made it easier to catch the ball in the webbing of the glove, and use the off-hand to keep it from falling out. A glove is typically worn on the non-dominant hand, leaving the dominant hand for throwing the ball; for example, a right-handed player would wear a glove on the left hand. By convention, the type of glove that fits on the left hand is called a "right-handed" or "RH" glove.


The shape and size of the baseball glove is governed by official baseball rules; Section 1.00, Objectives of the Game, defines limits of catchers, first basemans and fielders glove in parts 1.12, 1.13 and 1.14.


The baseball glove has come a long way in over the past century. Today, gloves are made more precisely and more efficiently for baseball players. Manufacturers have created different types of gloves to suit different types of people. Also, they have started personalizing gloves for certain players to increase exposure on national television. Rawlings sponsors more than 50% of the current MLB Players. It is because of this dedication to gloves that the MLB has rewarded Rawlings with the "annual Rawlings Gold Glove Award, which has been presented to players for fielding excellence since 1957."

Most players choose which glove manufacturer they will sign with when they are in the minor leagues, and stay with them for their entire career. Many players will switch glove companies for the right price. Most glove companies will pay in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for high-caliber players to endorse their gloves.Pitchers usually get the highest contracts for gloves because their glove is shown on television more frequently than other gloves. One of the biggest endorsers of gloves was Roger Clemens, who won seven Cy Young Awards (awarded to best pitcher in each baseball league). His Cy Young Awards were won with three different glove companies.

There are still many advancements coming in the age of the baseball glove. Even today, Easton (Sporting good equipment company) is "experimenting with combining leather and Kevlar (used in bullet-proof vests) in a new ultra-light weight glove line".

Even though there have been many advancements in the design and creation of the baseball glove, the greatest came in the invention of the catchers mitt. Its very understandable that the catchers mitt led the way for development because no other glove is used as much in a game as the catchers mitt. A University of Wake Forest studied demonstrated, through 39 minor-league players, that even though todays catchers mitts are state-of-the-art, they still do not offer enough protection from long term injury to the hand and wrist

 


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