Baseball player’s relationship with his leather goes far beyond the foul lines and the field
By Devon Jeffreys
For baseball players, it’s all about the leather.
From the first days of tee ball all the way up to the pros (for some), the glove remains a constant.
Bats go from wood to metal and back to wood again, but that leather material is always there to pick up a ball player even on an 0-4 day at the plate.
The relationship between a player and his glove usually dates back to little league. A glove is a kid’s first connection to the game of baseball. Long before spending hundreds of dollars on a bat, the glove is the most important piece of the game.
Most players go through a number of gloves by the time they reach the college level. Hands get bigger, webbing becomes worn, and the leather starts to weaken. Replacing the glove becomes a tough decision.
“Its like a pair of shoes,” Saints outfielder Glenn Kiture said. “You have to feel comfortable with your equipment. It’s the tools you use.”
To a baseball player, there is a certain connection established with a glove, through the years. Countless balls have been contained in its webbing through practice and games and the time spent with it can match that of any close friend.
“It’s like my best friend,” first baseman Kenny Ray said of his first baseman’s mitt. “I couldn’t imagine playing without it.”
Ray has seen action in the outfield for the Saints as well this year. On those days he uses a friend’s glove, but when he’s at first, he said he has to have his own.
A player’s glove choice can be based on shape, size, feel, fit and personality. Many also base their choice on the type of glove used by a player they look up to. Kiture said his glove is much like the one that San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds uses.
Taking care of the glove is also paramount to a player. Where it’s kept, what touches it and its placement are all important.
“It stays in my bag with two balls in it at all times,” pitcher Wes Burgess said.
For these Saints players, the glove is part of their identity.
“It’s kind of like my livelihood on the baseball field,” Saints shortstop Cale Owen said. “If I don’t have it, I’m worthless.”