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Men play baseball. Women play softball. Men play in adult softball leagues. Women played baseball when there weren’t men available to play. Seems like it really doesn’t matter who’s on first. (More puns in play later)
I played baseball from the age of five until they kicked me out at sixteen. I tried to play softball for one year before I gave up. The bats, the balls, and the gloves were just a killer to adjust to. There is a very distinct difference between a baseball glove and a softball glove.
You might think, well, they both look the same and are both meant to just catch the ball, do they really need to be different? If you’ve ever looked at a softball and a baseball up close, side by side, you would know why the gloves need to be different.
There is fast pitch softball and there is slow pitch softball. For the sake of this informational journey, I’m only going to use information for fast pitch softball. And for both types of gloves, it will be for adults only. That’s just too much information for one night. Let’s break it down.
The Dimensions Alone
When I switched from baseball to softball and found out I had to get a new glove, I was devastated. It takes forever to break one in. When I saw the size of it, I wondered why I needed a portable volleyball net to catch the ball. I threw a fit and used my baseball glove.
For baseball, you can always just get a standard-size glove. But if you are really trying to perfect your craft, you want to get the glove that is best suited for the position that you routinely play. Plus each glove for each position is slightly different.
- First base: 12 ¼ – 13
- Second base: 11 – 11 ½
- Third base: 11 ½ – 12
- Outfield: 12 ½ – 13
- Shortstop: 11 ¼ – 11 ½
- Pitcher: 11 ½ – 12
- Catcher: 32 ½ – 34
- First base: 12 – 13
- Second Base: 11 ½ – 12
- Third base: 11 ¾ – 12 ½
- Outfield: 12 – 13
- Shortstop: 11 ½ – 12
- Pitcher: 11 ½ – 12 ½
- Catcher: 33 – 35
Now, if you look at the sizes in just numbers, it doesn’t look like a whole lot of a difference, right? Well, it’s not that simple. Yes, half of an inch or one inch might not seem like a big deal, but if you are used to one size and switch to another, your whole aim can be thrown off.
It’s like when you wanted to mess with your parents when you were young, but didn’t want to get into too much trouble. So you moved the couch an inch to the left, and then laughed every time your dad would run into it. Just that little bit is enough to mess with the head.
Yes, there are a lot of different kinds of gloves. But if you want to play past Little League, it’s worth the investment to get the kind of glove best for that position. Or if you are just a die-hard fan or insufferable know-it-all, it’s good to have your facts straight.
Not to say anything about softball, as it is hard work to throw those grapefruits anywhere from 70-90 miles per hour, but a baseball catcher’s glove is made differently. The smaller size of the ball and overall faster pitch speed mean a baseball catcher’s glove needs extra padding.
The difference in shape for the gloves is due to the different sizes in the balls. Try catching one with the other and you’ll be able to tell the difference. Because of the different shape of the two balls, the gloves need to have a slightly different shape.
- Smaller pocket
- Longer pocket
- Deeper pocket
- Shorter pocket
Because a baseball is only nine inches and a softball is twelve inches, the design of the gloves naturally has to be a bit different.
A softball glove has to be deeper in the pocket since the ball is bigger. So that glove will be wider to accommodate. A baseball glove doesn’t need as deep of a pocket since the ball is so much smaller, and the glove won’t need to be as wide to catch the ball.
If you are wanting to really impress people, or you are trying to carry your team for baseball trivia night at the local brewery, then you can get into the different kinds of webbing gloves can have.
- Modified trap
- Single post
- Two-piece closed
- Closed/ basket
- Modified Trap
- Single post
- Two-piece closed
- Dual bar
- Half moon
Now, if you want me to put you to sleep and list what each type of webbing is for, I’ll do a follow-up piece. Let’s just put in it words my kid could understand. We already went over that each position on the field should require a special type of glove that best suits the job.
Now within each position and each kind of glove, there is a special kind of webbing that you will want depending on what you want your glove to do. We’ll go through just one so you get the gist.
Pitcher Glove Webbing
- Two-piece closed
The basket or closed glove is great for a pitcher because the game’s in the name. It’s closed. No batter is going to get a sneak peek with this glove.
The two-piece closed style of glove is favored by pitchers. As a pitcher, you don’t want to broadcast what you are about to throw. You want a complete coverage glove to make sure your pitch can be as surprising as what your grandmother will be getting you for Christmas.
Now the type of webbing is for either kind of ball. Softball pitchers don’t magically want an I-Web webbing to showcase their superior pitching. So they have that in common.
You Can’t Just Switch Them Out
Though we have found one commonality between the two types of gloves, that doesn’t mean you can just throw on a baseball glove to play in a softball game. I mean, maybe if you are playing in one of those fun, drink-while-you-play-adult-leagues.
If you tried to wear one for the other you could get by for a bit. But long-term use of the wrong glove will damage the glove. And really mess up your hand. And make you the sucky person on the team everyone wants to hit the ball to because they know you won’t catch it.
- Wrong size
- Padding issues
- Webbing would be off
The glove being the wrong size for the ball would be awkward enough. But think of the padding. It would be very painful to try to catch a 90 mile an hour baseball in a softball glove that doesn’t have the proper padding. Now my hand stings.
Fun Fact Time
Let’s take a break and learn something fun. So, I learned something I think is so sweet. There is a legit telephone number and email support you can reach out to if you need help or have any questions regarding baseball gloves. How cool is that?
Maybe it’s just because I am imagining some cute old grandfather manning the phone ready to talk you through every time of glove ever made, I might just call just to see how they are doing.
Random fact to know. Softball gloves have the option to have a Velcro back. Softball players like their gloves to be as tight as possible on their hands, since the larger ball can knock the glove about easier. Baseball gloves use a standard back.
What Did We Learn?
Now that you’ve taken a crash course on gloves, it’s quiz time. Just joking. I’m not thinking of that many questions. But it’s been a minute since we started this conversation so let’s just refresh what we went over.
|Overall smaller size||Overall larger size|
|Smaller pocket||Deeper pocket|
|Longer pocket||Shorter pocket|
|More padding||Not as much padding|
|Standard back||Velcro strap option or hook and loop back|
What Else to Know
Are there any glove rabbit holes we didn’t go down? Maybe one. Why didn’t I say mitt instead of glove? Are they the same thing?
Nope, they sure aren’t. A glove has finger spots and mitts do not. Catchers use mitts so that they have better control of their hands to be able to catch the balls at those speeds and not hurt themselves. First basemen (and first basewomen) are allowed to wear mitts as well.
So if you say the word mitt when you mean glove, you’ll look like the minor leaguer you are. Don’t make that kind of rookie mistake. Okay, fine, I think that’s all of the puns I have left. For this inning.