Every glove needs to be taken care of and treated properly. This goes for fastpitch, slowpitch, and baseball gloves too. There are a few different ways that players can keep their gloves in good condition.
Breaking it In
It all starts when you purchase a glove. Sometimes, the store that you purchase your glove from will have a glove-steamer, and I am pretty much indifferent on using one or not. If you only have your glove steamed one time, it isn’t going to leave a lasting effect on your glove. But it can, in fact, speed up break-in time. A common misconception is that some people still believe the “place a ball in the web and tie up the glove with a shoelace” method is an effective way to break in gloves. It’s not; the issue is that the glove is being broken in in an unnatural way. Tying up the pocket of a glove is not the same motion as closing one while catching a ball. The most effective and efficient way to break in a new glove simply to play catch. This is because the more catches you make with your glove, the more it will form to your hand specifically. Don’t just throw once or twice either, throw as much as possible! The more repetitions that the glove is being closed by your hand, the more comfortable and faster it will break in.
Oil and Conditioning
Continue to play catch all the time. For the sake of your glove, it would be smart to get some glove-conditioner. Popular glove brands such as Nokona and Wilson sell oils/conditioners, (Nokona’s is quite effective, given my experience). The oil will begin to break the leather down so the glove isn’t as stiff. Make sure you do not overuse the oil, as too much can lead to excess oil seeping into the leather and making your glove heavier.
First, apply a fair amount and then work the oil into specific areas, focusing especially on the pocket. Don’t oil your entire glove at once. The best way is to apply small amounts of oil to certain areas and continue to play catch with the glove. If you don’t buy oil, some alternatives are foam shaving cream, vaseline, leather conditioner, or petroleum jelly. When your glove has been treated, you must then let it dry. Usually 24 hours will do the trick, so be patient. After a day, check your glove, test the feel, and go play catch again. Keep repeating this for an effective break-in.
The gentleman in the video below is a Wilson “Master Craftsman” and demonstrates how to make sure you oil your glove just right:
Storage and Ongoing Care
There are plenty of ways to take care of a glove after it has been broken in. You can use glove cleaner to keep it nice and dirt-free. Make sure to store your glove in a safe place when you aren’t using it. Don’t store your glove in a plastic bag for a long period of time, as it will most likely get moldy because of the moisture. Make sure you store it in your baseball bag, a glove bag, or somewhere else that will keep it dry. Also, you can keep a ball inside the pocket at all times to keep your glove shaped the way you prefer. Don’t forget, for every good method, there is a bad one. Never put your glove in the microwave or oven.
Personally, I treat my gloves like family. You never want to go to an extreme when breaking in or treating your glove. Basically what I mean by this is that it isn’t ideal to drench your entire glove in water or oil, or throw it in the microwave or oven. A microwave or oven just does not seem like a safe place for a glove to be, especially when the heat increases. Doing this can mess with the leather on the glove. I wouldn’t recommend letting anyone beat the absolute crap out of your glove with a mallet, which some stores do. This method is a little over-the-top. Stick to the traditional break-in and care methods, and make sure to play as much catch as possible!
To keep your glove in great condition, make sure you take care of it. Whether it is a slowpitch or fastpitch glove, you should take pride in it. Flaunt it! Don’t forget, premium leather has a tendency to require more break-in time. Take this into account when making your purchase; you don’t want to buy a brand new Wilson A2000 fastpitch glove when your season opener is tomorrow. That is just not enough time for and solid break in. Learn your glove inside and out, and mold it to your liking. That’s what makes it your glove, right?