The debate rages on...
Batting gloves vs no batting gloves?
One of the most contentious baseball debates for the last century isn’t about what position is the hardest or what pitch should I throw in what count. No, it's should you wear batting gloves or not?
Every baseball and softball player from all levels wear batting gloves. But are they necessary? Is there a benefit to having batting gloves or is it all just for show? Do they give you an extra edge?
Batting Gloves History
The first person to wear gloves for batting was the Giants' Bobby Thomson in 1949 Spring Training. He actually wore golf gloves to help him get a better grip on the bat. Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox also tried batting gloves in 1953 after his manager saw blisters on his hand while taking batting practice. So, Williams' manager gave him his extra golf glove to prevent further injury.
But that was just practice, the first player to actually use some sort of glove on their hands while batting in a professional game was Kansas City A’s Ken Harrelson in 1964. He had blistered his hands severely playing 27 holes of golf the day before a game thinking he was getting the day off. But, as luck would have it, he was in the starting lineup the next day and was forced to wear golf gloves on his hands to prevent further injury. But wearing batting gloves did not become a common accessory among professional players until the 1980s.
Batting Gloves Advantages
Baseball and softball players wear batting gloves now regularly at different levels for many reasons.
- Batting gloves provide a better grip on the bat for most players.
- Most batting glove brands, such as Marucci and Franklin, are very sticky. This helps hitters can control the bat in the position that they want it.
- Weather conditions factor into whether to wear batting gloves or not. In warmer weather conditions, your hands tend to sweat, and using batting gloves helps with your grip on the bat. In colder weather, batting gloves can help prevent vibration and sting. Loose and uncovered hands in colder whether can result in sore and even fractured fingers.
- Protection from blisters and vibration of the bat when making contact.
- A lot of younger players who play multiple sports use batting gloves because they have other injuries on their hands. In these instances, batting gloves help tame the vibration of an aluminum bat and prevent further injury to the hands.
For a player that is just beginning and is in the first stages of playing baseball or softball, batting gloves are recommended to help with grip and protection against vibration and sting, especially in colder weather.
Batting Gloves Disadvantages
Most players who do not wear batting gloves do that for a few reasons.
- For Little League to college players, the aluminum bats most manufacturers like Demarini and Louisville Slugger come with a lizard skin grip. So, some players consider the grip good enough for bat feel.
- Players swinging wood bats prefer not wearing gloves because they like the feel of the bat and use pine tar instead. Pine tar is a sticky substance that is rubbed on the handle and near the middle of the bat to help with the grip. These players usually lather their hands up with it before stepping in the batter's box.
- In rainy weather, batting gloves aren't ideal because of how wet everything is and only dry gloves would tend to give you an advantage.
- Most professional players who don’t wear batting gloves like Evan Gattis, Kendrys Morales, Matt Carpenter and Stephen Vogt cover their bats in pine tar to gain a competitive edge at the plate.
- Superstition also plays a part. For example, Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Colby Rasmus stopped using batting gloves because during a game where he was not playing, he left his gloves in his locker and got called to pinch hit. After being caught off guard, he did not have time to retreive his batting gloves. So, he went up to the plate without them and ended up hitting a home run. He retired his batting gloves.
There are positives and negatives to both sides of the batting gloves debate. They might be the reason you hit a game winning home run, but also the reason you strikeout. What is important is that you use accessories that make you the most comfortable, as well as put your team in the best position to win. Even if that’s wearing the pair of bright orange and yellow batting gloves your mom told you not to wear!
It's your turn. We want to hear from you. Do you wear batting gloves? Why are you anti-batting gloves? Leave a comment below. Meanwhile, if you ever have any baseball bat or softball bat related questions, give our Bat Experts a call at (866) 321-2287, shoot them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to live chat! Remember, we're here for you from click to hit!