What I Know and Rember About Baseball - Glove Selection

By: Mitchell Dowdy

With current players; Gloves are designed to last 1 season. $50 - $75 of annual frustration. The love of the glove is not the same. Disposable tool for a generation proclaiming recycling. Its just beyond my consideration.

As a parent, finances are substantially different then when I was growing up. I tend to save my money and buy the best of what I need. This goes for my kids as well. I have no qualms about getting the better end of what is available for their needs. My oldest on a whim decided to try out for a select baseball team and playing up a year. To my amazement they took him, but the backyard glove I'd taught him with would not be sufficient for the rigors he was to encounter. So, no problem, just find a good glove for a left hander. WHAT A JOKE! I went to over a dozen stores and looked through hundreds of gloves. I soon discovered that gloves go on sale in January when the shipments come in and the best selection is available. May is for good sales on what is already left over from the current year. Add to this that all sporting goods buyers believe that less than 1% of all players are left handed and 100% need a glove 12" or larger and you are hard pressed to get something age appropriate. Finally, not all gloves available for right hand throws are available for left hand throws. Seems the makers also feel that left hand throwers only need the larger gloves as well. As market conditions have virtually wiped out the mom and pop sporting goods dealers in my area, box stores that have taken over have little to no ability to special order anything. If you do, its full MSRP + shipping + handling, +, +, annoying. The final selection seemed to have all the credentials, good brand name, endorsed by the Little League king himself, a little large, but small enough hand pocket to keep it in place, $60. Game ready and good pocket. Within 6 weeks I was tightening up the laces, after 14 weeks, the outside finger area had broken down. Glove performance was poor and frustration was gaining speed. My player was loosing faith in his gloves ability to protect himself from the ball. My faith in this selection for him was also lost.

So, off to the internet. Find a suitable replacement that I don't need to re-purchase every year. East Bay, Just Gloves and Sports Diamond dominate the google and yahoo searches. All styles of the 3 majors (Rawlings, Wilson, Louisville) are there plus some of the up and comers (Nokoma, SSK, Nike, Reebok, etc ) but how do you justify a $89 glove to a $350 one. How does one determine the upper youth model will give more than 1 season. Back to the internet to search owner comments and the individual pieces that make up a glove. Steerhide, that's the ticket. Its generally thicker and the majors only use it in there most premium gloves. Even the up and comers reserve Steerhide for their top of the line gear. Do I recommend handing a $350+ glove to a 9yr old, no. Can I justify $120, well, compared to the prospect of spending $60 each year, if I get 2 years out of $120 it's a break even. If he can keep it all through high school, then all the better. So where did I find a steerhide glove that met all my criteria, nw.kelleyusa.com . These guys have just what you need for the price that is extremely right. They are a small company that offers direct pricing and distributorships. So, shrewd as I can be, I bought a distributorship and the mandatory inventory. I rationalized this by the fact I can get their best stuff at an even better price and at the very worst, give it away to the players we have in the family. I was very pleased with all the gloves they sent. Everything delivered as promised. The recurring proof for me is when I attend shows and young teenagers arrive at my table with their Dads and attest "this is just as good as the (brand x) we have been looking at and half the price!". That seals it for me. These guys spend hundreds if not thousands of hours reading, examining, touching gloves from every source they can find. To see so much enthusiasm just moments after introduction, it truly re-enforces my belief in these gloves.

Better gloves solve several problems;
1)they last longer
2)you only have to break them in once
3)annualized return on dollars spent is greater
4)you get a lifetime of baseball memories attached to one very personal glove.

So, is $120 a good price to pay? I say yes!

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