Almost every American -- and countless others across the globe -- has worn a baseball glove at least a few times, even if it’s just for a physical education softball class or an occasional pickup game. At first glance there seems to be only one way to wear a baseball glove. But there are actually a couple variations, depending mainly on the your comfort level and personal taste.
The first baseball players didn’t have to worry about how to put their fingers in their gloves, because they didn’t wear gloves. Indeed, protective equipment of any kind was considered unmanly. A.G. Spalding, who began pitching in the 1860s, wrote that he first saw a player wearing a glove in 1875. Early baseball gloves resembled modern fingerless weightlifting gloves. Spalding, who later founded a sporting goods company that manufactured gloves, began putting extra padding in his glove. By the 20th century, gloves were larger and well-padded with just a bit of webbing between the thumb and index finger. The fingers were separate, so players had no choice but to simply put each finger into the glove’s designated hole. All the fingers are stitched together in modern gloves, allowing for more options.
The standard fielder’s glove has five distinct finger areas. A player can simply slides his hand into the glove and insert each finger into the appropriate hole. First basemen and catchers wear mitts that don’t show five finger divisions from the front. Instead, each shows a thumb area, plus a larger area for the other four fingers on the other side of the webbing. From the back, however, the finger divisions of catcher’s and first basemen’s mitts may be visible. On the inside, first basemen and catcher’s mitts have straps in the large finger area to separate each of the four fingers. For example, the strap may curve up and down like a wave -- the index finger then fits below the strap, the middle finger goes above the strap, etc.
One Finger Outside the Glove
Some players place one finger, typically the index finger, outside of their gloves. The other fingers slide into their designated spots, while the index finger pokes through the hole in the back of the glove and sits behind the area into which it would normally fit. Players may use this method for personal comfort, or simply because it provides a bit of extra padding for the index finger.
Two Fingers in the Pinkie Hole
It’s also possible to place both the pinkie and fourth finger in the slot designated for the pinkie. The player then places his middle finger into the fourth finger’s normal slot, and his index finger into the space reserved for the middle finger. This leaves the index finger slot empty. Players use this arrangement because the gap in the index finger’s spot creates a deeper pocket. It also places more strength on the outer portion of the glove, making it easier to snap the glove shut.
M.L. Rose has worked as a print and online journalist for more than 20 years. He has contributed to a variety of national and local publications, specializing in sports writing. Rose holds a B.A. in communications.