How NOT to Ruin a $300 Baseball Glove

October 30, 2023
How not to ruin a $300 baseball glove.

This is perhaps the most painful article that I have ever written. But maybe my stupidity will help someone else down the road. 

I’m a 49 year old man, and I’ve had the same glove since I was 12 years old. It still has my last name written on it three times by my dad. 

The way we broke in gloves back in the 80s when I was a kid was we’d load them up with oil, tuck a baseball inside the pocket, and tie the whole mit tight with a large rubber band. If memory serves, we’d do this several times. 

 We might have had our parents purposely run our gloves over with the car a few times. 

Sooner or later the glove would be broken in. We only got one glove back then. I didn’t even know there were different kinds of gloves other than catcher’s mits and first baseman’s gloves. 

I bought my son his first real glove when he was 9 years old, a Rawlings D112PTB Premium Series Genuine Leather 11.25" RHT. I don’t remember oiling this one up too much. 

As he began to grow, the glove started to look a little too small. Plus he was playing some outfield as well as pitching by the time he was 11. His Rawlings glove was great for pitching, but I worried it was too small to play outfield. 

So I bought him an OF glove, the Wilson 1799 A2000 12/34. Mind you, this is a fabulous glove. I’m the idiot in this story. The glove itself was not the problem. 

My thought was to get the very best glove oil to break in his glove. When I went online, I found a 16 fluid ounce bottle of Fiebings Pure Neatsfoot Oil. Over the course of a few weeks, I saturated the glove with the entire bottle of neatsfoot oil, a producte mostly used for preserving saddles and horse tack.

The result was that over the course of two years, the oil absolutely destroyed the glove. I had to have it restrung twice. The glove weighed over two pounds. Even the largest catchers mits in MLB don’t quite weigh two pounds. The glove was literally falling off my son’s hand when he tried to scoop short hops. 

Before simply taking the financial hit and buying a new glove, I desperately tried to get the oil out of the glove by literally baking it in the oven. This was a bad idea and further destroyed the laces that were already hanging by a thread.

 After the debacle of the 1799 A2000, we first upgraded the pitching glove to a red Wilson 1787 11.75 A2000, and that is working out great. 

The real gem is the upgraded outfielders mit, which is a light blue PROR3039-6CBG Rawlings Heart of the Hide 12 ¾ inch.  

This glove weighs nearly an entire pound less than the A2000 oil sogged mit I ruined. 

How did we break in the two new gloves? 

We used a baseball glove mallet, our own hands, and a baseball. 

The moral of the story is that there are no shortcuts to breaking in a glove. Use the mallet to form the pocket, use your hands to bend the leather, and most importantly play catch with the glove. 

About the author 

Josef Benson

Josef is the co-founder of BaseballCentric.

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