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Next time you watch a game of baseball, pay attention to the gloves the players wear on defense. Catchers, first basemen, infielders, and outfielders all wear different style gloves that best fit the role of their position.
While examining these gloves, you will notice that the first baseman’s mitts and outfield gloves are much longer than their infield and catching counterparts. This is because those positions demand longer gloves to play them effectively.
Some may wonder why first basemen and outfielders would even need to have different gloves if they are both so similar. Well, it is not that simple.
It is illegal for a defensive player to use a first baseman’s mitt when playing the outfield. In fact, it is illegal to use a first baseman’s mitt at any defensive position besides first base.
It is legal for a first baseman to use an outfield glove at first base, but this rarely happens at higher levels of baseball. Continue reading to dive more in-depth on this topic.
Why is Wearing a First Baseman’s Mitt in the Outfield Illegal?
Besides being illegal, a player who would choose to wear a first baseman’s mitt at any position other than first base would be hurting his team as the glove is really only designed to catch balls that are thrown at high velocities.
With that being said, there is a rhyme and reason behind this rule.
First baseman’s mitts have slightly different regulations than gloves for other positions; therefore, to ensure that all players’ gloves are regulation size and quality, it is easier to only allow the first baseman to use a first baseman’s mitt.
What Does a First Baseman’s Mitt Look Like?
It is always easy to pick out the other team’s first baseman when they are warming up in the outfield before the game. Just look for the guy wearing the long, padded glove that looks more like an oven mitt than a baseball glove.
A first baseman’s mitt is longer than the average infield glove, is rounder in shape, and has extra padding around the edges. The webbing is normally in the shape of an H, and the pocket is normally deeper than most other gloves.
Think of a longer, thinner catcher’s mitt, and that is what a first baseman’s mitt looks like.
A first baseman catches a lot of throws from hard-throwing infielders during a given game; therefore, his glove has a little more padding around the edges to be able to withstand that volume of throws at high velocities.
His mitt is also much longer than most other infield gloves because it gives him a larger radius to catch errant throws. The average first baseman’s mitt for ages 14 and up is around 12 to 13 inches.
Still, the first baseman has to field ground balls from time to time, so his mitt can’t be so long that it makes fielding ground balls a difficult task.
What Does an Outfield Glove Look Like?
At more advanced levels of baseball, it is important to wear an outfield glove when playing the outfield because it is designed much differently than an infield glove.
An outfield glove is long with either an H-shaped webbing or what is called a trapeze webbing.
Outfield gloves, like first baseman’s mitts, are normally between 12.5 to 13 inches. Where a first baseman’s mitt resembles a catcher’s mitt in design, an outfield glove is designed more like an infield glove. It does not have the padding nor the deep pocket of a first baseman’s mitt.
Smaller gloves are better for ground balls and allow for quicker transfers of the ball from the glove to the hand. Longer gloves are better for catching balls in the air because they give the player a longer reach to catch difficult fly balls.
This is why outfield gloves are longer than infield gloves. They rarely have to field ground balls and transfer the ball to their throwing hand as quickly as infielders do. They spend most of their time catching fly balls, so it is important for their gloves to have more length.
Is it illegal to use a catcher’s mitt in other positions?
Catcher’s mitts are not permitted anywhere other than behind the plate. Some may try to wear a catcher’s mitt at first base. Not only is this illegal, but it also is not advantageous for the first baseman because a catcher’s mitt is significantly smaller than a first baseman’s mitt.
What happens if a player uses an illegal glove?
If a player uses an illegal glove, the play is deemed dead upon the completion of the play, and the player must replace the glove. If the ball was touched by an illegal glove in fair territory, players are awarded three bases. If the ball is caught with an illegal glove in foul territory, it is ruled as a foul ball.