Edit: Edited for some grammatical errors, better tips and disclaimers, etc.
HELLO! My name is Alex and this is my first instructable WOO!
Today we will be learning some of my techniques for breaking in a baseball glove. Since the turn of the last century people have been playing baseball for leisure or professionally. And as a player, one of the common things I hear from fellow team mates is the "stiffness" of a new glove. Believe me I'm a catcher, and some of the worst gloves to break in are catchers mitts. It also seems that the newer and higher quality of the glove the harder the darn thing is! So now *trumpets and drum role* I will be showing you how I work my magic on my mitts and fielding gloves to make them soft and pliable.
Step 1: Beating Your Mit
Beating the leather. This is often the hardest and most tedious step. A step that often people skip over due to laziness.
Materials: One Hammer (recommended: ball peen or rubber mallet)
If you choose to use a conventional hammer I suggest you use something with a more worn down head. With sharp edges comes scratches, scuffs, and ultimately tears (on your brand new glove). I like ball peen simply because it has the rounded side making it a little gentler.
I also recommend using a rubber mallet. The soft rubber head makes for almost no scratching. But be careful as over extended use of this mallet or using a cheap-er mallet may cause scuffs on your brand new mitt.
There are various types of glove mallets from home made to retail. They usually have a stick like apparatus for you to hold, with a ball shapped orb on one end. You then take the stick and proceed to beat your mitt.
Technique: There are various techniques to this step. I prefer the Inside Out method.
Take the glove. Turn it inside out, so that if you were to wear it you would have to catch the ball on the side opposite where you would normally catch it. Then take your hammer/mallet and go at it.
Step 2: Oiling Your Glove.
Oil. The big controversy among gloves.
Here's my spin on it.
I believe glove oil is necessary. I believe it helps to lubricate the leather if it is dry, helps to condition the leather to prolong its life, and helps to soften the leather making the break-in period shorter. I do use glove oil on my gloves, but SPARINGLY. And I only use a foam type in hopes that I can try and airiate the substance making so that doesn't cause the glove to become as heavy. I am by no means an expert so do not quote me on this.
People say there are many cons to glove oil, the ones I hear most commonly are as follows:
It actually weakens the leather.
It makes it heavier.
It degrades the leathers quality.
If you are going to use glove oil FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE BOTTLE/CAN. The manufacturers put them there for a reason. If the company was trying to ruin your glove on purpose they would have lawsuits out the wazzoo.
There are many different types of glove oil but usually the main component is some kind of Neats Foot Oil. This is an oil drawn from the hooves of cattle, it has been used for years and (as far as I know) is presumably safe for baseball gloves. When I do use liquid Oil, I use Rawlings Glove Oil (rarely more than one coat because it is very thick.) Franklin's "Glove Doctor" Glove oil is the foam that I use on all my gloves. Again, I use both of these sparingly, mostly because I have experienced in the past that it does weigh your glove down if you use to much of it too often.
Most brands/manufacturers/experts say to first wipe your glove down with a damp towel or sponge to remove any dirt or debris on the glove. Do not use any sort of flowing water directly on the glove and NEVER submerse the glove in water. Then using a towel or sponge (I like good ol' fashion hands to get into the deep crevices) apply some oil and rub it gently into the glove. When rubbing my glove with oil I always make sure to get the laces good, especially that of the pocket, and the leather in and around the pocket as these areas will receive most of the stress of catching the ball. After working in oil, set upright to dry.
P.S. If your working with your glove at all I recommend washing your hands first, there are oils on your hand, not to mention dirt (clay etc), debris, and other various nasties that can get into the leather and cause problems.
Step 3: Storage!
When the off season comes and you want to store your glove in your bag or house you need to store it properly.
I always take my gloves out of my bag. This is because my bag is heavy (due to all the catching gear) and the glove can get squashed in the bag, then all my hard work of forming a nice pocket is out the window!
I then wrap my glove, putting a baseball in the pocket and depending on whether or not it is a big catcher's mitt a softball in the palm. I wrap my primary glove with these rubber bands that Rawlings sells. They are fairly cheap (I think 2 dollars if I remember right) and they get the job done. You can also use any good sized rubber bands you have at home or small bungee cords. Let your mind wander with the use of ties, I've heard of friends using shoelaces even. This step helps to maintain the shape of your glove. Don't wrap it too tight, the leather can get some nasty creases if wrapped too tightly.
Some people say you should store it in a bag of some kind. I don't do this (Sorry too lazy) but I'm sure if you wish you could use a small satchel, draw string, or supper market bag. Your going to want to store your glove in a dry room temperature place. NEVER STORE YOUR GLOVE IN EXTREME COLD/HEAT (i.e. car/garage/etc.) This can damage the leather beyond repair.
Also when in the first stages of breaking in your mitt I recommend keeping your glove wrapped all the time so as to form a good pocket. A good pocket is necessary in all baseball gloves, it makes for an easier catch and retrieve.
Step 4: Don'ts
There are plenty of old wives tails surrounding the process of breaking in a baseball glove. Here I will state many of them and disprove the method.
Run your glove over with your car- Can be done, not recommended because the tires can cause damage to the leather and it will flatten the glove, making the formation of a new pocket difficult or destroying a pre-existing pocket.
Put your glove in your pool- The chemicals and chlorine in pools can dry out the leather, not to mention literally eat away at it. Plus that amount of water is never good for the leather in baseball gloves.
Bake your glove in the oven- Think of your glove as skin. It has to stay moist and slightly oily so that it can move. This is the same principle of a glove. The leather will dry out and become stiff and hard. I have also heard of people actually burning their gloves (think of burnt toast).
Soak it in Oil- The glove can get too saturated with oil and will become heavy. This happened to one of my old gloves, for me sitting behind the plate with what felt like a lead weight on my hand was no fun. ( I didn't actually soak it in oil, I just put too much.)
Step 5: Misc.
The pitching machine!
Because I am a catcher and Catcher's mitts are some of the toughest to break in, I have found a new technique (that is by no means new to the world, but new to me). The pitching machine. I currently have a friend of mine who owns a baseball instructional academy. Being good friends with this person is a bonus because he lets me go into his cages and use his pitching machines at my leisure. Usually I will go and hit in these cages but to break in my new mitt I am now squatting behind the plate and taking pitches from the pitching machine. If you are going to do this WEAR YOUR MASK. I have taken to many baseballs to the face and chest and have learned my lesson more than once. So if you have a local batting cage or a pitching machine, thrown on your mask and catch some balls from it. This can improve your hand eye coordination and framing skills, not to mention break in your mitt at the same time.
I have found a website http://www.ballglovewarehouse.com that offers a complete kit for breaking in a new baseball glove for $40. Although this is a tad bit expensive this kit comes with everything needed for my instructable, Including:
# "The Perfect Glove" Brochure
# 210 Denier Polyester Sport Pack
# Free Shipping!
# Glove Oil
# Online Glove Care Video
# Oversized Shaping Ball
# Two Applicator Sponges
# Two Oversized Shaping Bands
# Wooden Break-In Mallet
You can purchase this directly from Here
User Input: Here I will display some of the user inputted ideas for breaking in your mitt.
1. Wrapping it and putting it under your mattress.
By choosing to view this instructable you agree that I am not responsible for any damage done to you, your baseball glove, or any of your belongings. As stated before, I am by no means an expert. I have never been trained professionally to play baseball or to coach baseball. I am simply an experienced player who wishes to share his knowledge. I do not work for any of the companies listed in this instructable nor do I endorse any of them. Any products stated in this instructable are protected by law by their manufacturer. I use them in no way as my own, I simply borrow them for the use of spreading knowledge.
I hope this helped you and you enjoyed my instructable. This is the first of many!