2019 Holiday Gear Guide: Baseball Gloves
Whether it’s Jose Altuve or Alex Bregman giving pinpoint feedback on glove design and materials, or designers sourcing leather from the United States to Japan, today’s gloves have been engineered with adjustments birthed in Major League Baseball and bred throughout all levels of the game. And one component takes
center stage in many of the latest updates: premium materials.
The Easton Professional Collection Hybrid design, inspired by the likes of Kevin Pillar, Alberto Mondesi and Ramon Laureano, offer position-specific patterns in a Hybrid construction that includes USA chrome-tanned Horween steer-hide leather in the palm and lining with a lightweight Japanese-tanned professional reserve steer-hide shell back. Rolled leather welting provides durable shape and improves the break-in time, while the steer-hide binding increases durability. Using sheep wool shearling fur in the wrist liner ups the comfort and feel.
“Easton has made a big splash in the premium ball glove game,” said Trevor Anderson, Easton’s director of product development. “We’ve been able to really refine the patterns and feel of our pro gloves.”
By using the Horween tannery leather, the only tannery in the United States that still makes ball glove leather, the unique process creates a durable, solid feeling leather with great temper. The Japanese-tanned steer hide reduces the weight of the glove. “This hybrid approach,” Anderson said, “creates what we feel is the ideal weight glove.”
Mizuno has also embraced the highest quality leather and raw materials when creating a technology focused product. Clint Sammons, sports marketing manager for team sports, says Mizuno uses the glove scans of hundreds of professional players to find the best design in the Mizuno Pro Series for a “perfect, already-formed pocket” based on players’ needs and preferences at each position. Mizuno uses United States Kip leather tanned in Japan for a soft, firm feel that forms easily, yet still holds up to the speed of the game.
Mizuno has also embraced fully customizable options, allowing customers to create their own designs online.
“Gloves are at the core of who we are at Mizuno and what has made us a trusted baseball brand for over 100 years,” Sammons said. “All of our gloves are expertly designed by our team of Japanese craftsman who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of making perfect gloves for dedicated players. These gloves may take a bit longer to break in, but the feel on your hand, the durability and quality of leather you’ll find to be unmatched.”
Wilson has embraced pro players, creating two new game models, one the A2000 JA27 for Altuve and the other, the A2K MC26 for Matt Chapman. The Altuve 11.5-inch design uses Navy Super Snakeskin leather with Blonde Pro Stock Leather in a shallow pocket design for easier access and transfers.
The 11.75-inch A2K for Chapman features a triple-color combination of leather for an aesthetic statement. The Chapman infield model is shaped three times more than other gloves to reduce the break-in time and create a powerful pocket.
“It’s one of the first, if not the first time we’ve had a catalog model with green leather,” Jennette Rauch, senior global marketing manager for Wilson ball gloves, said about the Chapman glove. “The glove has been very popular with players. It’s received great feedback since we introduced it at or pop-up store in Omaha during the College World Series.”
Nokona’s Alpha S-200, part of the Alpha Select series comes with high-quality leather so youth and young adults can pay with virtually no break-in needed. The position-specific, lightweight line features full-grain American KIP leather and Nokona SuperSoft leather.
The newest line of gloves from Rawlings is the Encore, designed fully with the youth player in mind. While Rawlings is still well known for both its Pro Preferred and Heart of the Hide gloves with premium leathers, the new Encore series features an extended base with extra padding in the palm to prevent against sting. The Encore has a quicker break-in process but still maintains its shape, allowing for a custom fit for all players, especially the young players.
All-Star, while known for their catching gloves, also has an entry in the fielding glove market, using Pittards leather palm lining and Japanese-tanned U.S. steer hide on its Pro Elite line.
SSK has a mix of signature player model gloves, but its Black Line remains one of its most premium from the Japanese-based brand.
Nike has also entered the fray again with a new Alpha Huarache Elite Fielding Glove released in late fall.