While nowadays it may be weird to see a baseball player in the field without a baseball mitt, it wasn’t always. In fact, there was a point in time when the mitt was a new form of technology and it was more weird to see a player using a baseball glove than not. That’s right, behind the tough worn leather of a baseball glove lies an entire history of how it came to be.
While the exact use of the first baseball glove is a bit difficult to pin down, it’s thought that one of the first professional uses was around 1870. After decades of cracked skin and injured hands, some baseball players began experimenting by using brakeman gloves similar to those of a railroad worker. Leather gloves with the fingertips cut off, these baseball mitts were often laughed at and mocked by most other players who thought them to be “less manly.” In fact, Charlie Waitt, a St. Louis outfielder/first baseman who is thought to hold the title of first official glove use, wore flesh colored gloves in hopes that other players and fans wouldn’t notice.
Ultimately, the protective benefits of a baseball glove came to outweigh peoples original judgements. By the 1890’s most baseball players had made the transition from bare hands to gloves. And by the 1920’s Draper & Maynard, the leading glove manufacture at the time, supplied gloves for nearly 90% of baseball players including both Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner. Although, it wasn’t until St. Louis pitcher, Bill Doaker, went to Rawlings with the idea of adding a web between the index finger and thumb that the baseball glove even began to take shape as we know it today. In fact, it was Doaker’s idea that put Rawlings on the map and ultimately turned the baseball glove from protection into a tool to catch the ball.
From then on, glove innovation would take leaps. By 1957, Wilson released the A2000, a glove with a large web and broad pocket that would eventually go on to become the official glove of the MLB. And as the baseball mitt has continued to evolve and change over the years, so has technology. As was proven with the baseball mitt, sometimes technology is needed not just to serve as protection, but as a way to enhance player performance, too. Here at Diamond Kinetics, we strive to enhance a player’s swing performance through our baseball swing analyzer, which doesn’t just collect the metrics and data, but also makes it easy for anyone to understand them.