How to Choose a Catcher’s Mitt
Being a catcher is one tough job with a job description list that seems to only get longer and longer.
Catching demands a lot. It’s more than just calling pitches and catching it afterward. It’s also stuff like blocking pitches, throwing runners out, and defensive alignment just to name a few.
As the man behind the plate, you are often called the captain on the field, for the simple fact that they have the entire field in their vision. That global vision of the game and the demands of the position, all lead to their primary job, catching the ball. Catching the ball can only be done with a Mitt, the one piece of equipment most essential to the task of receiving the ball. Since knowledge is power, having the necessary information to choose the right mitt will make the difference between strike and ball, win or loss. Without further ado, here are the key elements on what to look for before buying a Catcher’s Mitt.
NOT A GLOVE BUT A MITT
Although the terms “glove” and “mitt” are often used interchangeably all-around baseball.
The main difference between baseball gloves and mitts is that gloves have fingers and mitts don’t. Mitts do a better job of controlling balls that don’t hit in the pocket and can aid scooping ground balls and short hops. First Base and Catcher are the only positions allowed to use mitts.
For youth players, 5 to 13 years old baseball gloves are designed for general use as players will play many different positions. As players get older and start playing specific positions, they should select a glove designed for that specific position. Do not use an infielder or outfielder glove while playing in the catcher’s position. A catcher should always use a catcher’s mitt as the design provides extra protection for the hand.
As we’ve mentioned, in the earlier article on how to choose the right glove for you, Catcher’s gloves have two types of closed webbing. Each providing enough flexibility for when you have to catch quick-moving baseballs. In our opinion, both the Half Moon and One Piece webs are suitable options for any catcher.
Catchers’ Mitts have two different glove back options types. Most mitts are made with an open back, which has a wide opening between the wrist strap and the upper part of the mitt, or the knuckles, similar to regular position player gloves. Most catchers also tend to choose a “closed” back mitt. This style offers more support to the hand and allows for better wrist and thumb protection as it’s designed to slightly reduces the range of motion to catch a ball. You’ll have to decide if you want to go for flexibility or better wrist and thumb support. Many brands and models offer the option to have a finger hood, finger pad and even adjustable style wrist straps, all options for better feel, control, and support.
When it comes to padding its important to understand that more padding means more protection but also a smaller pocket and the opposite, less padding means less protection and more sting! Sometimes going up or down in mitt size will help better the protection the padding gives to your hand all while keeping the pocket you need.
Leather comes in a few choices that are characterised by their cost, strength, and durability. In this catcher’s mitt buying guide we will go over the most common leather options out there.
- Synthetic leathers like pigskin are softer and less expensive that are great for younger players or beginners who may either quickly grow out of their glove, not yet have the skills necessary to move up to a more advanced glove or who have not yet committed to multiple years of play as yet. These gloves will wear out quickly and are not suited for play above certain game speed.
- As players get older and move up a level of play, a softer leather glove is needed. A glove with softened, oil-treated or game ready leather is often the go-to, as it offers a next to no break-in and is a safer option for the speed of the game. Expect to pay a bit more for these type of gloves, usually between €50 – €120.
- Last but not least, Premium or Pro Series leather, as the name says it’s the highest quality option available. This glove type is better suited for experienced players such as college, high level or professional players as it offers unparalleled craftsmanship, durability, and comfort. These gloves are usually in the range of about €150 and up, all depending on the brand. Premium leathers such as Steerhide, Kip or Taguchi are the preferred choices of the pros.
- Some Mitts are also made with an accent/complimentary leathers such as snakeskin, goatskin or mesh fabric, although not a common practice by manufacturers – you should never use these materials as the base leather (parts of the mitt that is most impacted by the ball) but only as accents.
SIZING TO FIT
The first thing you may come across in this topic is how Cather’s mitts are sized in the ’30s. That’s because unlike regular gloves that are measured by their length, catchers gloves are measured by their circumference, thus giving you a bigger glove size number.
In baseball the norm for catchers mitts are:
- players 13 years old and under, should wear a mitt that is 32” to 32.5” in size
- Players 13-16 years old, should wear a mitt 32.5”-33” in size
- Players 16 years & older, should wear a mitt 33” & upwards in size
Moving up or down in size is the choice of the player wearing the glove, but at the same time, he should also remember that size changes mean pocket-size changes and adjusting to that change. These are recommendations and would certainly depend on the player’s hand size, experience, and ability.
Similarly to fielding gloves, some model catcher’s mitts come with options like adjustable wrist straps, wrist fasteners and a web lacing pattern for a better fit. For more sizing help check out our glove sizing chart.
TO SUM IT ALL UP
You’ve done the necessary steps to finding and buying your new catcher’s 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 glove 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.
Catcher mitts are by far harder to break-in than the regular fielding glove and if you’ve ever seen an experienced player, you will see them with two mitts for this same reason. While one mitt is old and reaching its end, the new mitt is slowly being broken-in and formed, creating a perfect pocket and flexible hinges – similar to preseason games, designed to get you better.
If you’re a young in age or new to the game, go for the synthetic or softened leather, but if you’ve got some mileage and expect to go for some more then, a more premium stronger leather mitt 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!