When I was a kid, I loved going into the sporting goods store to try-on baseball gloves. I grew up in Rego Park, Queens, so Herman's Sporting goods in the Queens Center Mall was my store.
I would approach the wall of gloves to look at the latest catcher's mitts. In those days, there were no clear details to describe the top 3 best leathers for baseball gloves.
The right glove will keep your hand protected and comfortable while you play. Leather gloves are made from cowhide, steerhide, kip, sheepskin, or goat skin. Each material has its advantages and disadvantages.
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Why baseball glove leather matters
In the catcher in middle school. I had a difficult time adjusting and my mitt was not helping. I was catching new pitchers and they threw hard. They were popping my mitt with the fastball and after practice, my hand was swollen.
Because of the pain of the impact, I lost my aggressiveness and made changes that affected my release times. Over-compensating caused 2 negative problems, extra arm movements and double-clutching. All because I thought the leather of my glove was the best.
Fixing the problemI built up the courage to ask my senior teammate about his mitt. I shared my doubts about my mitt and that I was confident that the mitt was a quality mitt. He allowed me to handle his glove and it felt different. When he told me how much the glove cost, I was shocked.
The available leathers used for baseball gloves are cowhide, kip and steer hide. Gloves made from these leathers are available in retail stores, but not always using the best of the best leather for baseball gloves.
#1 Steerhide Baseball Leather
Steerhide leather is sourced from full-grain hide from male cattle and is the #1 best leather for baseball gloves. I'll explain below that US Steerhide gloves are available in two characteristics.
The strength of the glove depends on the location of the source hide used.
US Steerhide from the higher sections of the hide is used for professional baseball gloves, leather jackets, wallets and fine shoes.
The leather is versatile and resistant to finger twisting while trapping hard-hit liners and acrobatic catches. The leather will not suffer from stretching, maintaining its shape (with proper care) for long-lasting use.
Steerhide leather baseball gloves in retail stores are sourced from the lower section of the hide. These gloves are a bit heavier and prone to finger twisting and stretching. (What you don’t know will not hurt you? You are paying too much for these gloves.)
Remember when I told you about my trouble catching consistently? The pain?
Not only was my mitt using soft leather, causing me to drop the ball, but the internal design of my mitt also did not exist.
I could have suffered from serious injuries if I did not make a change of equipment.
#2 Kip Leather BaseballKip leather is untanned hide from juvenile animals and is #2 best leather for baseball gloves. These animals include young calves, lambs and goats. This leather is a highly sought-after material for high-end fashion, the auto industry and baseball glove manufacturers.
Kip is popular because of the natural softness of the leather and its weight. Lighter than cowhide, a kip ball glove takes less time to break in.
But all kip gloves are not the same. The right kip leather depends on the animal and where it is sourced. The preferred kip leather is from the Netherlands and this leather is very expensive. The current price for Wilson A2k is $399, noncustom.
Glove companies are marketing Kip gloves for less than $200. Sounds great, but I would advise against this purchase. These gloves are probably made with hide from US cattle. But there is a problem, the leather is too thin and not as soft as European Dutch Kip.
#3 Cowhide LeatherCowhide leather is from the female cow. Horween.com describes cowhide leather as being lighter in weight and having “looser bellies.”
This “looser bellies” characteristic is bad for baseball gloves. Cowhide leather is structurally too soft and pliable.
Cowhide baseball gloves are cheaper for glove companies to produce gloves at a lower cost and asking up to $199.
This can be done because shoppers are not educated about the differences. Cowhide gloves cannot be used in advanced baseball. I learned this lesson very late.
The next time you are in Dick’s Sporting Goods, go to the “wall of gloves” and count how many they have with soft and wavy pockets or fingers. If the gloves you find are soft or are described as “Soft xxx,” chances are it is made of cowhide parts.
It is not unusual to mix leathers on a glove model to control cost, but softer leathers like cowhide should be used in the right sections of the glove, namely the outer shell, while the remainder of the glove should be made using the more durable and consistent stronger leather.
Miscellaneous LeathersIn this article, we focused on the top 3 best leathers for baseball gloves. However, there are other mentionable natural and synthetic leathers.
Sheepskin and goatskin leather is used for retail baseball gloves. Soft and flexible, this leather is ideal for quick break-in and getting on the field. These leathers are good for youth and rubber baseball games.
Success...When I purchased a new mitt, I was able to improve my receiving and framing because the ball did not move once I caught it.
I was more aggressive with the pitchers due to the ability to trap the ball better.
And the stinging problem disappeared. All this because I found the right mitt.
I learned that using high-quality gear helped me play better:
- Better defense.
- Reduced Errors.
- Saved money on gloves.
- Successful college play.
If you are a baseball player and need that quality baseball glove to take you to the next level. NYStix sells professional quality baseball gloves that are durable and comfortable starting at $179. Customize your Glove