Why You Can Expect Quality in Rawlings Gloves
It doesn’t matter whether your game of choice is slow pitch or fastpitch softball. It doesn’t matter if you play baseball instead. When you leave the dugout to head into the field or the diamond, what matters is that you bring a quality glove with you.
Just how do you define quality, though? Do you define it by the materials from which the glove is made? Do you define it according to the shape and structure of the glove, as befits a specific position? Do you define it by brand? By company history? By critical reviews and accolades?
There are many ways to ascertain quality in a baseball or softball glove, and some of them we have covered in the past in blog entries like our Guide to Baseball Gloves.
However, there are things beyond the material of the glove or its size and shape that will make it suitable for play, whether it’s for baseball or softball.
In this blog post, we’re going to go over some of the value-added features of some of the finest baseball and softball gloves ever made, Rawlings Gloves. We are proud to feature them in our collection, and here’s a collection of performance and quality adding features that you’re liable to find in any glove lifted from our Rawlings collection.
- Enhanced factory break-in - Let’s face a simple fact of the game. No matter what any company promises - even Rawlings - you still need to do some glove break-in on your own. In fact, you still need to do a lot.
For some players, this is not a matter of contention. Many players learn a lot about their gloves from the break-in period and become more comfortable with their use during that time. That’s when a lot of muscle memory gets developed.
Still, for others, the process is tedious and time-consuming. For those players, Rawlings has introduced many gloves that have a “factory break-in” that will save players time and effort breaking in their gloves and get a better fit right out of the gate.
Will you still need to break in your glove? Yes, but you’ll start with a better fit, and Rawlings, at least, claims to have done anywhere from 75% to 80% of the work for you at the factory.
- Sheepskin palm linings - Some Rawlings gloves, like the Rawlings Pro Preferred Game Day 34” Catcher’s Mitt come with Pittards Sheepskin Lining that is luxuriously soft and adds an unbelievable amount of comfort to the mitt.
Catchers spend hours on end taking lightning-fast pitches to the palm. Their hands and to a lesser degree their wrists must absorb the shock of all that, and it gets really sore right quick when you aren’t used to it.
Truthfully, even for players that are used to it, a little bit of extra comfort would be a real big bonus. There’s not much that splits the difference between comfort and durability better than sheepskin does. It’s tough, but it’s also amazingly soft and has great compressive strength. That means players can take pitches to the palm all day long and won’t be as sore pressed at the end of it with a mitt like this one.
- Padded thumb sleeves - The amount of abrasion that a player’s thumb will take on during a game is really related to his or her position as well as how aggressively he or she plays. Still, there are situations in which you can really rub your fingers (or in this case, your thumb) raw during the course of a game.
Actually, this is a chief concern for catchers, just like palm fatigue is, as mentioned above. They are one of the few players that need to consistently catch and throw all throughout the course of a game, and those forces can torque on and wear your thumb out. Of course, with a padded thumb sleeve (such as the one found in the model explored above) that fatigue won't seem so bad.
- Heart of the Hide Leather - Rawlings Heart of the Hide Leather, which they call the finest in the world, certainly is rated very highly for its performance, if not for its critical acclaim as it concerns players.
Heart of the Hide Leathers is hand-selected from only the top 5% of hides for their thickness and durability. As it is a very high grade of leather, it is very resilient while still being capable of forming to the contours of a player’s hand. This gives excellent flexibility and strength for comfort and performance - two things that don't always go hand in hand if you will excuse the pun.
Additionally, many Rawlings gloves are made from Heart of the Hide; you’ll see it prominently displayed in the product title where applicable. That’s the kind of repute it carries among players and critics.
- Full Grain Kip Leather - Kip leather is a grade of calfskin, which means that any glove that is made from kip leather is going to be softer and softer than a glove made from Heart of the Hide leather if all other variables are held equal.
That might sound like a slight, but it’s far from it. The fact of the matter is that some gloves, or rather some players, don’t need that exact measure of performance from a baseball or softball glove, and want something softer and more accommodating. Kip leather is admirably positioned to offer that.
By the way, just because it is calfskin does not at all mean that it wants for toughness. On the contrary, it is the quality of the grain more than the age of the cow that determines this. When you see “full-grain” you know you’re working with quality, even in pigskin or sheepskin. Full-grain grades of leather are much, much tougher than top-grain or so-called “genuine” leather, and are able to take and hold new shapes while still being flexible and very strong. They are also easier to maintain and have much longer lifespans than inferior grades.
- Rawhide Laces from Tennessee Tanning Company - How much use would a glove be, even a Rawlings glove, if the whole thing was cobbled together with spit and tissue paper. All joking aside, the answer is, not much.
That’s why so many Rawlings mitts and gloves are made with rawhide produced from Tennessee Tanning Company. Tough, flexible, durable, and amazingly strong and long-lasting, the rawhide laces that hold Rawlings mitts and gloves together just can’t be beaten for their collective strengths.
What do you get when you take a full-grain, premium select cowhides and stitch it together with ridiculously strong, made-in-America rawhide? You get quality, that’s what you get.
- 100% wool padding in some select gloves - Some gloves, like the Rawlings Pro Preferred 12.75” Baseball Glove are made with a number of the features already listed as well as 100% wool linings for superior comfort and strength.
Wool, especially high grades of wool-like 100% blends that lack synthetics, is an amazing material. It is self-cleaning, antimicrobial, amazingly strong, and most importantly, able to absorb a ridiculous amount of moisture without feeling wet.
That’s one of the best features of the wool lining in this glove; it can absorb a lot of sweat and still your hand and wrist will feel surprisingly cool and very dry. That’s a big deal when you’re out in the field in the heat of a game. You’ll be more comfortable and the all-natural materials will last an impressively long time.
- Soft finger back linings - Just like catchers sometimes get sore thumbs and palms from taking hard pitches to the hand all game long, or all practice long, so do other fielders experience fatigue and abrasion after a hard game.
That is, unless, their gloves had soft finger back linings to help diminish the impact and improve the comfort of their situations. Some Rawlings mitts and gloves come with soft finger back linings to cushion the backs of your fingers on impact and help to absorb some of the force of a hit.
- Adjustable wrist straps - What does it matter if an otherwise excellent glove doesn’t fit your hand properly. It doesn’t matter much; if you can’t adjust the mitt or the glove you might as well just play bare-handed.
At any rate, that’s something an experienced glove maker like Rawlings understands very well. Many of their mitts and gloves have straps across the backs of the wrist that are not just adjustable. They are fast and easy to adjust, because ease and speed matter in the game, or in practice; what matters is that they offer a superior fit, every time.
- Speed Shell backing - Gloves like the Rawlings Heart of the Hide 12” Fastpitch Softball Glove are made with Speed Shell backing that is much, much lighter than traditional hides without taking away from the strength and durability of the overall glove. For players who need to make lightning-quick responses to hits, or more importantly, lightning-quick transfers, gloves like these will seem very attractive, to say the least.
- Carbon fiber Hyper Shell - stronger and even faster than the speed shell backing mentioned above is Rawlings carbon fiber Hyper Shell, which you can find in gloves like the Rawlings Heart of the Hide Hyper Shell 11.75” Baseball Glove.
Artfully crafted from carbon fiber, the Hyper shell is lightweight and extremely fast. It lightens the overall glove by 15% as compared to the traditional Heart of the Hide designs. If you are concerned about speed, technology like this just might be able to give you an additional edge.
- A wide variety of fits - Some Rawlings gloves fit more narrowly and some fit more loosely, whereas they are all adjustable so that you can get the fit that is most effective for you. Every player needs something a little bit different and that’s exactly why Rawlings provides so much variety.
- An even wider variety of webbing shapes and structures - Rawlings also provides a lot of variety in the web designs of their pockets as well as in the sizes of their gloves. For example, some outfielders want longer gloves so they can reach out for those fast hits or scoop up a ball. Infielders might want an open pocket that is fast, light, and able to make quick transfers while at the same time shedding dirt from the diamond. Pitchers, by contrast, often prefer closed webs that enable them to hide the pitch from the batter. Suffice it to say that Rawlings knows this well and serves up an admirable amount of variety in their gloves and mitts.
Does every single one of the Rawlings gloves from our collection have these features? Of course not; the same glove can’t really be made both from oiled full-grain leather and made from a carbon fiber hyper shell, that’s just not a reality. The reality is each of these features, where you will find it present in a Rawlings baseball or softball glove, is useful to the players that choose them.
Speaking of which, if you are looking for the best mitt for you, that’s going to take both some research and some practice. You’re going to need to practice with all different sizes and shapes of mitts and gloves (within reason) before you find the one that really suits you. Besides, even after you pick up your next glove, you’re still only part of the way there. Even with an 80% factory break-in (of which some Rawlings gloves boast), you’ll still need to do most of the work yourself and that takes not only time but also patience and dedication.
If you want to learn more about what makes these unique gloves so enduringly popular, read up on some reviews or get in touch with a member of our team. We’d be more than happy to help you out and we love to hear from our customers, so give us a call at 1-888-540-BATS or message us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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