Although there are still a few “old-school” holdouts in the major leagues who do not use them, the batting glove is now almost standard issue equipment for players at all levels. Back in the 1980’s Franklin, with the valuable help of hall-of-fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, began to pitch their new specially designed batting gloves to the MLB. Players loved them and the rest was history.
What does a batting glove do for you? The glove helps your swing in two simple ways: it increases comfort and it gives you a better grip. As any batter knows, if you hit the ball away from the sweet spot, it can sting your hands and cause blisters. The sting is greatly reduced with a batting glove.
The increased grip on the bat is the major selling point. Swinging power comes from the whole body, but that a decisive element of power comes from wrist rotation. If you have a tighter grip, it increases the rotation and gives you a dynamite swing.
What to Look for in the Best Batting Glove
Get gloves that slip on comfortably and feel like they were made for you. Blisters can be caused by bulges in the glove. It must be snug.
Also, some gloves have either a pocket on the back of the glove where you can include a protective shield or built-in padding. This is for extra protection from inside pitches gone nasty. Some companies also offer palms with extra padding for those hitters prone to blisters from bat stings.
Of course, you are going to want to pick up a bat and see how the grip feels, but before that, you should be aware that what makes a glove cost more is not just the material, but the additional manufacturing step of “digitally embossing” the palm and sometimes the fingers of the glove. This is a light perforation of the leather to increase the grip of the glove.
A more recent design feature to enhance the grip is the application of a layer of a synthetic material placed over palms and fingers. This creates the uneven surface like the perforation, but has the added feature of a flexible ridge that can be pressed into the bat.
This does not mean that this is better for every hitter. Some hitters prefer a smooth palm because they feel the bat better.
The Right Materials and Construction
Pay attention to whether the glove is leather, suede, or synthetic materials such as nylon or spandex. As with anything you buy, you want it to last. In general, the more it is made of genuine leather, the longer it will last. The high-end gloves have genuine leather palms that are lightly perforated to enhance the grip.
There are now some high-end synthetic gloves that are bucking the trend by providing silicon-treated palms and you need to distinguish those from cheaper synthetic products. The backs of the gloves are always made of synthetic materials, but pay attention to the materials used for the palm and the front of the fingers. This is where there will be wear and tear.
Also, pay attention to customer reviews about whether there are problems with stitching. These gloves are comprised of different parts stitched together and if the stitching is poor, they tear easily.
If too much sweat gets trapped inside the glove, it will cause problems. Your hands will get wet inside the glove, which will make them slide around and defeat the whole purpose of strengthening your grip. The glove will not dry properly and in the end it can damage the materials.
Look for design that airs out the glove effectively. The glove should have mesh or perforation that lets out the air. Be a little suspicious of thicker gloves unless they have a good design to take care of this.
The Right Size
In the end, you really have to try on a pair on and see how they feel, but just to get you started, here is a baseline about what you can expect based on the size of your hand (provided by Franklin) . Take a tape measure and measure from the base of your palm to the tip of your longest finger. Below is a table that tells you how the measurement stacks up with the available batting glove size options:
Choosing batting gloves is a personal choice. Even in gloves that received very good reviews, there were customers who did not feel comfortable with them. Personal comfort is a huge factor and you need to try them on and swing a bat with them before you seal the deal.
If your preference is to have a more natural “almost hands” feel with just a little protection and grip, you do not want the extra padding or the silicone strands that more expensive gloves might offer. If you don’t care about a natural feel, you just want to maximize the grip, and cost is not an obstacle, shoot for the high end.
Another factor is how much you play, because then durability becomes a factor. If you play softball once a week you might not need to pay more for more durable materials, but if you are hitting baseballs every day then you might want to avoid the cheaper materials and pay for the leather or high-end synthetics.
Batting Glove FAQ’S
1) Question: How much do batting gloves cost?
Answer: Pairs of gloves run from around about $15 to over $50 dollars (customized gloves can run a lot higher). The factors that determine cost boil down to materials and design. An all-synthetic glove is cheaper, but might wear and tear more easily.
When you get into perforated leather palms, you move into the mid-range of the price ladder.
The highest range features gloves with special design. These generally include more specialized synthetics in key spots of the glove or more specialized anatomically accurate design.
At the top of the price ladder you have the the specialized synthetics topped off with the silicone traces to maximize grip.
2) Question: Why wear batting gloves?
Answer:Batting gloves protect your hands from blisters, they lessen the sting of contact when you hit the ball away from the sweet spot, and they give you a better grip. This enhances the rotation of your wrists and gives you a more powerful swing.
3) Question: How should batting gloves fit?
Answer: You measure your hand from the base of the palm to the tip of your middle finger and match it to their size chart. That gives you a rough idea. Then try them on. You want gloves that fit snugly, but are not a hassle to put on. The glove should not be able to bunch up at all. Loose material can cause the blisters the gloves are supposed to prevent.
4) Question: How do you take care of batting gloves?
Answer: The most important actions are to clean them regularly and to brush and treat the leather palm of the glove (assuming it is leather).
5) Question: How do you clean batting gloves?
Answer: To clean them, begin by knocking them together before you put them in your bag to get the dirt off of them.
Then, when you get home, turn the gloves inside out and use a few drops of liquid soap and a moist rag to get all the sweat out of it. Take a hand towel and dry it well. The turn the gloves back to their normal shape and clean the non-leather parts of the glove in the same way.
For the leather part, apply a leather cleaner. Leather wipes work well and top cleaning brands like Horseman’s One Step and Leather Cleaner by Leather Honey are guaranteed to get the job done. Let it dry in the sun afterwards. Gloves should not go in the dryer and only all-synthetic gloves can go in the washer.
6) Question: Who invented batting gloves?
Answer: The first batting gloves used in Major League Baseball were actually golf gloves. Baseball historians will quarrel about who first used the golf gloves in the old days. In the mid-1960’s, Hawk Harrelson was the first one to do it in the modern era. Franklin began manufacturing specifically designed batting gloves in the early 1980’s and the player most influential in making them popular was the great Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies.
7) Question: What are baseball batting gloves made out of?
Answer: Most typically, the palms are made out of either sheepskin or goatskin leather and the backs of the glove are made of synthetic materials such as spandex or lycra. Some are made entirely of synthetic materials. A new feature is the addition of silicon strands on the palm and fingers of the glove to enhance the grip on the bat.
8) Question: Who makes the best batting glove?
Answer: “Best” can be very subjective, but if you made it “best-selling,” three of the top four gloves sold on Amazon are Franklin gloves with Easton, Under Armour, Seibertron and Clutch making it into the top ten. Franklin developed the first gloves and remains the big name, but does not monopolize quality of design.
9) Question: What percent of baseball players use batting gloves?
Answer: In the MLB, well over 90% of the players use batting gloves. A few stand-out players who do not use them? Texas first baseman Prince Fielder, Seattle second baseman Brad Miller, Oakland catcher Stephen Vogt, and the Saint Louis home run leader Matt Carpenter. There are probably a few dozen overall who remain old school in the box.
10) Question: What batting gloves do the pros use?
Answer: If you survey MLB hitters right now, the top company right now is Nike. Franklin is very close and Under Armour is a notch behind. Other companies that show up on the hands of MLB players are Marucci, Louisville, Mizuno, and Cutters.