A pitcher’s glove akin to an outfielder’s design and a catcher’s mitt with more maneuverability give Wilson two completely new glove patterns in the brand’s continued pursuit of adapting to trends in baseball.
Both the Ryan Smith-designed M23 catcher’s mitt and the Shigeaki Aso-designed B23 pitcher’s glove launched in A2K and A2000 models, with more updates coming from Wilson.
“I am always thinking about gloves,” Aso tells Baseball America. And that led him to create the B23 model with a nod to the 1810 outfielder’s glove. “The 1810 has a very snug fit at the backhand,” he says, “because of this, it fits very well on the pinky side, on the back side.”
The 12-inch B23 pitcher’s design uses a modified wrist strap to hug the back of the hand and introduces a wider pinky stall to fit multiple fingers while remaining sturdy throughout the entire pitching motion and once the pitcher transitions to a fielder.
“I made the palm liner on the pinky side wider so the pinky finger will rest at the very edge when you put two fingers in the pinky stall,” Aso says. “The pinky panel is wider so that it is easier to put two fingers in.”
Aso says the design works for players who wear their gloves traditionally or for players going with the trend of multiple fingers in the pinky stall.
The new wrist strap, which differs from other models, is cut to hold the back of the hand no matter how the pitcher wears the glove. The curve along the back toward the pinky and wrist is meant to create a secure fit.
“When a pitcher throws the ball, most pitchers will bring the glove in front of their body, then pull back,” Aso says. “When going through this motion, the updated wrist strap makes it easier to secure the glove, helping players create more natural power through the pitch.”
The security helps breed confidence for pitchers on the mound. Aso says that the first order of business for a pitcher is to pitch, so giving a fit ideal to generate additional confidence and power during the pitching motion was the goal of the new B23 design.
Aso says player feedback has been great, even from players who wear the glove traditionally, but especially from those who follow the trend of two fingers in the pinky stall. He notes the players also like the cross designed into the web, a touch he brought over from designs popular in the Japanese market.
The one-piece swordsman web is more than aesthetic, though. Along with a focus on the backside of the B23, Wilson created a deep pocket on the glove to help pitchers from unwanted pitch tipping. The swordsman web helps conceal the grip by adding a second piece of leather inlaid in the web—in this case a snakeskin piece—in a contrasting color.
Smith’s focus when working on the new M23 catcher’s mitt was all about helping catchers receive and frame the ball. The 33.5-inch design reduces the padding along the fingertips to help the catcher position his thumb under the ball.
“This mitt is created for the most up-to-date style of catching,” Smith says. “It is built so that the catcher can get his thumb under the ball easier. To accomplish this, we reduced the toe padding for a lighter flip of the mitt.”
Meant to welcome a new school of catching, the reduced padding allows catchers to prioritize mobility by encouraging maneuverability.
“Catchers are now being taught to get their thumb under the ball as they move their hand from the ground up to receive the pitch,” Smith says. “The game has evolved, and so the mitt needs to evolve with it. The M23 has the perfect feel and pocket shape for this new style of catching.”
By reducing the toe pads along the edge, the M23 creates a larger pocket to help with control. An expanded receiving area in the palm can assist catchers in securing the ball. The half-moon web is meant to fit with the updated structure to make it easier to frame fastballs or snag breaking balls in the dirt.
Even with two brand-new models hitting the Wilson lineup, the team isn’t resting. Aso says that players can expect a new infielder pattern soon to follow the lead of the outfielder and pitcher designs welcoming two fingers in the pinky stall. He’s also working on a new first base mitt.
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America.