In the world of baseball, every position on the field has its unique challenges and requirements. Among these, the role of the catcher is particularly demanding, necessitating specialized equipment to ensure safety and efficiency. Central to this equipment is the catcher’s glove, aka catchers mitt—a key piece of gear that has evolved significantly since the early days of baseball.
Features Of Catcher’s Mitts
The modern catcher’s glove is not just protective equipment; it’s an essential tool for performance. It allows catchers to frame pitches more effectively, a skill that can influence umpire’s call on close pitches. Moreover, the enhanced padding and ergonomic design reduce the risk of hand and finger injuries, which are common in the position. They differ from other baseball gloves in several key ways:
- Padding: Catcher’s gloves have heavy padding to protect the hand from the high-speed pitches they must catch.
- Size and Shape: They are larger and have a more rounded shape to create a wider target area for the pitcher.
- Durability: Made from high-quality leather, these gloves are designed to withstand the rigors of catching fastballs, sliders, and other pitches throughout a long season.
What Are The Different Sizes Of Catcher’s Mitts?
Youth Catcher’s Gloves
- Ages 7 and Under: Gloves for this age group typically range from 29.5 to 30 inches in circumference. These gloves are designed with smaller, more manageable pockets for young players who are just learning the position.
- Ages 8 to 12: For players in this age group, catcher’s gloves usually range from 30 to 31.5 inches. These gloves offer a balance between control and the ability to handle higher velocity pitches that come with intermediate play.
Adult Catcher’s Gloves
- High School to College (Ages 13 and Up): Catcher’s gloves for this level of play usually range from 32 to 34.5 inches in circumference. The larger size helps in handling faster pitches and provides a larger target area for pitchers.
- Professional Level: Professional catchers typically use gloves between 32.5 and 34.5 inches. At this level, the preference for glove size becomes more personalized, with players choosing the size that best fits their hand and playing style.
Best Catcher’s Mitts For Adults
FYI – Just a heads up, every high quality catcher’s mitt has a couple common downsides:
- Breaking In: The high-quality leather used can make the break-in period longer compared to other gloves on the market. This may require patience and consistent usage before it achieves optimal flexibility.
- Price: Top-tier catcher’s mitt are expensive.
1) Rawlings Heart of the Hide (Best Overall)
Why We Like It:
- Quality Materials: Made from world-renowned Heart of the Hide steer leather, the Rawlings Heart of the Hide catcher’s mitt offers exceptional durability.
- Comfort: Along with the premium leather, the glove features a padded thumb loop and soft leather finger back lining for optimal comfort.
- Performance & Fit: Designed for adult hands, it provides a snug fit. If you make an error, it won’t be because of the glove =).
2) Wilson A2000 PF (Best For Smaller Hands)
Why We Like It:
- Craftsmanship: Wilson A2000 is renowned for its meticulous craftsmanship and high-quality leather that ensures a long lifespan for the glove.
- Comfort and Fit: Pro Stock Leather provides rugged durability and an unbeatable feel. Plus the Dri-Lex Wrist Lining helps to keep your hand cool and dry.
- Performance: Half Moon Web and deep pocket helps catchers receive every pitch
- Pedroia Fit – Shorter finger stalls and a narrow wrist opening to better suit players with smaller hands.
- Flat Finger Binding – For players who prefer to play with a finger outside the glove greater comfort and control in the field. By reducing the amount of space between your finger and the back of the glove, you’ll experience less pain when making plays
3) Allstar Pro Elite (Highest Quality)
Why We Like It:
- Used By Pros: One of the most iconic catcher’s mitt in baseball.
- Craftsmanship: Hand crafted, using premium materials like high-grade steerhide leather, offering durability and longevity.
- Comfort: Soft leather feels amazing to touch, and the sleek back design gives a personalized fit, boosting comfort and efficiency on the field.
- Performance: Awesome pocket with a loud pop that pitchers absolutely love.
4) Nokona Classic Walnut (Best Looking)
Why We Like It:
- Aesthetic Appeal: The Nokona catcher’s mitt is an eye-catching piece, made from high-quality Walnut Crunch leather that ages beautifully and offers a rich, classic baseball look.
- Craftsmanship: Handcrafted in the USA and made with top grade steerhide. The meticulous construction of this glove offers both durability and a snug fit that molds to your hand over time.
- Performance: Designed with a deep pocket, the Nokona mitt allows for better control and handling of incoming pitches.
5) Rawlings R9 (Best Value)
Why We Like It:
- Quality and Affordability: The Rawlings R9 provides a great balance between quality and price. For a mid-range price, you’re getting a glove that offers features and benefits often found in more expensive mitts.
- Comfort: With a padded thumb sleeve, cushioned palm pad, and finger-back liners to give you more support and protection.
- Durability: The glove is made with durable leather that can withstand rigorous practices and games.
- Performance: Gold binding and stitching provides your pitcher to locate the target easier.
Best Catcher’s Mitts For Youth
1) Wilson A360 Youth (Best Value)
Why We Like It:
- Comfort and Fit: Provides a comfortable fit and helping young players to develop their skills.
- Durability: The glove is made from faux leather, but also a CarbonLite Shell helps reduce the weight without sacrificing durability.
- Performance: Provides a good target for pitchers and an optimal pocket for securing catches.
- Good Value: For its price range, it’s one of the best youth catcher’s mitts available.
2) Rawlings Player Preferred (Most Versatile)
Why We Like It:
- Durability: Designed with full-grain oiled leather shells for easy and quick break-in along with all-leather laces for durability and strength.
- Performance: Zero Shock Palm Pad provides extra protection
- Versatile: Designed for recreational players of various age and skill levels, especially youth players.
- Great Brand & Classic Look: Rawlings is a well-known brand in the baseball world and this mitt offers the classic look that many players desire.
- Good Value: Despite its high-quality features and durability, the Rawlings Player Preferred mitt is affordable.
3) Mizuno Samurai (Best Padding)
Why We Like It:
- High-Quality Construction: Crafted from high-quality leather which provides an exceptional balance between durability and performance.
- Comfort: The mitt features a comfortable, well-padded design, with a snug fit for youth player’s hands. Plus extra protection at the thumb portion of the glove.
- Performance: Its design and deep pockets ensure a high level of control and easy catching, making it a fantastic choice for young players improving their catching skills.
- Good Value: Despite its high-quality construction and performance, the Mizuno Samurai mitt comes at a reasonable price. But it’s more expensive than others on this list.
4) Marucci Caddo Series (Best Lightweight)
Why We Like It:
- Comfort: Made with full grain cowhide leather, this glove will have good durability and feel.
- Fit: Narrow tapered hand stall with microfiber wrist lining and finger lining for a good fit for youth.
- Performance: The glove’s designed for lightweight feel and increased fielding control.
How To Break In A Catcher’s Mitt?
Soften the Leather
- Conditioning Oil or Glove Conditioner: Apply a small amount of glove oil or conditioner. Avoid over-application, as too much oil can weigh down the leather.
- Manual Manipulation: Work the oil into the glove by massaging and flexing the leather, especially in the hinge areas where the glove folds.
- Regular Use: One of the best ways to break in a glove is simply by using it. Playing catch regularly helps the glove form to your hand and the ball.
Use a Mallet
- Mimic Catching: Use a baseball glove mallet or a baseball to mimic a catching motion. Gently hit the pocket where you would typically catch the ball to help shape it.
Shape the Pocket
- Forming the Pocket: Place a baseball in the pocket of the glove, then wrap the glove with a couple of rubber bands or a glove wrap. This helps create a nice pocket shape.
- Leave Overnight: Keep the ball in the pocket and leave it wrapped overnight or when not in use.
Steam the Glove
- Professional Steaming: Some sporting goods stores offer steaming services. Steaming softens the leather and makes it more malleable.
- Caution: Avoid DIY steaming or heating as it can damage the leather if not done correctly.
Best Brands For Catcher’s Mitts
- Notable Series: A2000, A2K
- Features: Known for high-quality craftsmanship, durability, and a snug fit. Wilson gloves are popular among professional and amateur players alike.
- Notable Series: Heart of the Hide, Player Preferred, R9
- Features: Rawlings offers a wide range of high-quality gloves used by many Major League Baseball players. They are known for their excellent craftsmanship and durability.
- Notable Series: Franchise, Samurai
- Features: Mizuno gloves are appreciated for their comfort and high-quality Japanese leather. They often feature innovative technologies for improved performance.
- Notable Series: Professional Collection, Flagship Series
- Features: Easton is known for producing gloves that offer a good balance of quality and affordability. They are suitable for players at various levels.
- Notable Series: Ascension, Cypress, Caddo
- Features: A newer player in the glove market, Marucci has quickly gained a reputation for high-quality leather and craftsmanship.
- Notable Series: Walnut, Alpha
- Features: Nokona stands out for its handcrafted gloves made in the USA. They offer a range of gloves made from different types of leather, catering to various preferences.
7. Louisville Slugger
- Notable Series: Pro Flare, Omaha
- Features: Known primarily for their bats, Louisville Slugger also produces quality gloves known for their durability and comfortable fit.
- Notable Series: Professional Edge, Highlight Pro
- Features: SSK is popular in Japan and is gaining recognition globally for its high-quality gloves preferred by many professional players.
- Notable Series: Pro Elite, System Seven
- Features: All-Star is particularly well-known for their catcher’s mitt, offering durability and a great fit.
What To Look For When Buying Catcher’s Mitts?
1. Size and Fit
- Age and Level of Play: Choose a size appropriate for the player’s age and level. Younger players need smaller gloves, while adults require larger sizes.
- Hand Size: The glove should fit snugly but not be too tight. It should allow some room for movement but not be so loose that it affects control.
2. Quality of Material
- Leather Quality: High-quality leather lasts longer and provides better feel and durability. Cheaper materials may wear out faster and not offer the same level of protection.
- Padding: Adequate padding is crucial for protection against high-velocity pitches. It should be enough to absorb impact without sacrificing too much feel.
3. Pocket Size
- A deeper pocket helps in securing the ball upon catching. However, it shouldn’t be so deep that it hinders quick ball transfer.
- Catcher’s mitts typically have closed webbing to help trap the ball and provide extra support. The type of webbing can affect how the ball is caught and secured.
5. Back Design
- Open vs. Closed Back: An open back (space above the wrist) can offer more flexibility and breathability, whereas a closed back provides more support and is often preferred by catchers.
- Look for gloves with reinforced stitching and high-quality laces, as these are critical areas that undergo a lot of stress.
- Ensure the glove feels comfortable on the hand. This includes checking for any areas that might cause irritation or discomfort during play.