How to Choose a First Baseman’s Mitt
First basemen are the cornerstone players in the game today, hitting for power, and snagging hot shots down the baseline. Receiving throws from other infielders, catching pickoff attempts from pitchers, and fielding their position is all part of first basemen’s duties. All that we ask of this corner player involves not just his catlike skill and reflexes but more notably their glove. Unusual when compared to the other gloves on the field, the first baseman’s glove is called a mitt by trade and not a glove. A first baseman’s mitt as we will refer to it from here on out is a product of function, not fashion.
MITT VS. GLOVE
So here we go, the differences between a baseball mitt and a baseball glove come from the fact that gloves have separated finger slots on the outside and back. While mitts still have separate finger stalls on the inside but are one solid piece on the outside. First basemen are the only players permitted to wear a mitt during play, along with the catcher. This single solid piece of leather allows more padding to be added on the inside of both mitts, giving added protection to the user and a larger surface area with which to field, scoop and catch.
Design among first base mitts is similar, but if you are looking for a premier fit, take into consideration the following specifications:
POCKET DEPTH AND WEBBING
First base mitts are designed to securely receive more throws than most position players without a big need for ball transfers. Their mitts have a deeper pocket to withstand the high amount of catches. Most mitts come with an open-style webbing, such as a single or dual post, which in turn gives first basemen’s mitts the ability to dig out wild throws or ground balls through the bigger fielding surface the flexible webbing provides.
First basemen’s mitts are longer and have a solid, curved edge to their design. A typical first baseman’s mitt will be between 12″ and 13″. (check out the size guide for detailed size info) It is our recommendation to not get a bigger size mitt, as you want to be able to control it during play. (This is especially vital in purchasing a first baseman’s mitt for younger players.)
MATERIALS & RIGIDITY
A first baseman’s mitt should be strong enough to take a high number of throws, just like a catcher’s mitt. The leather of the mitt should be of equal stature, we recommend always using steerhide leather as this is the strongest and stiffest on the market. Steerhide leather will allow the mitt to remain flexible enough to scoop errant tosses and meet basic fielding requirements. For younger players, our recommendation would be to use a cowhide leather mitt as it’s the easiest for their young hands to manipulate.
Wrist adjustment such as velcro straps or the regular lace closure is another factor not to overlook. We cannot stress enough the importance of the first base position, so it’s a good idea for the player to keep the glove on their hand when receiving the ball. When looking for a first base mitt, players should always consider the wrist closure as some gloves offer an adjustable wrist opening, these come in the form of a Velcro strap, D-ring, or additional lacing, all functioning the same way so it’s a matter of personal preference.
With these factors in mind, the final thing to consider when searching for the right mitt is to buy a mitt that feels the best when you wear it. You want a mitt that is tight around the wrist to not fall off and cause injury when receiving a ball. (Keep in mind, your glove is the only thing between you and a hard hit or thrown baseball from causing injury to your body, it’s, therefore, we recommend that the glove fits properly on your hand).
The mitt should offer a web that closes completely and upholds overall the strength of your mitt and its hinge points. It should also have enough padding to prevent burning your hand as soon as the ball hits your palm.
If you’re young in age or new to the game, go for the cowhide leather, but if you’ve got some mileage and expect your glove to last for some years then, a more premium stronger leather mitt such as steerhide is for you. With all the options out there, make sure you get a mitt that you’re comfortable wearing, something you can trust on your hand to catch the ball and go about your job like the boss you are!
You’ve taken the necessary steps to find and buy your new first base mitt, now you got to break it in. You can follow our glove break-in steps to help you in this important process. But not all gloves break-in the same, some take a few hours, others about 1-2 weeks while stiffer leathers can take about 2-3 months, it all depends on the leather type, as we mentioned above.