I’m here in Italy doing the European Baseball Academy and having a lot of fun. The kids are all working hard and making improvements. About 6 of the 10 catchers are repeat offenders (been here before) so I’m not having to start from scratch. I get to build on the foundation we built last year. It’s also nice to see the strides they’ve made in a year of implementing the “Art of Catching” style.
Anyway, for some reason I’ve been getting quite a few questions about how best to break in a catchers glove. Because there’s gotta be a quicker way than just catching with it, right? Unfortunately, wrong. Outside of the suggestion I made of using pine tar, I don’t have a whole lot for you. I’d love to share some super secret big league trick to speed up the process, but the truth is, in my opinion, the best way to break in a catchers glove is just to catch with it.
For that reason, I always had a little rotation going on. I’d estimate that I’d use up about a glove and a half a season. So, I always had three gloves in various stages of brokeninness. I’d have a gamer, a glove that was close to a gamer (but could definitely be used in a pinch), and a glove that was just getting started. When the gamer would die, the second one would rotate in – and on and on.
I’ve heard that the rich British back in the day (maybe still) used to have their butlers break in their new shoes for a them. You know, get that new shine off and skip the blister stage. Well, kind of like a wealthy Brit, I’d sometimes have the bullpen catcher get a few bullpens with my new #3 glove. Just to kind of get it started. But just for a bullpen or two. I definitely didn’t want the new glove to take on the habits of the bullpen guy. God forbid he clanked a few. You don’t want a glove to get used to that sort of thing. What if it thought that sort of behavior was acceptable? I had a few gloves like that and I got rid of them quick. Keep them away from the rest.
I also didn’t want the glove to take on the characteristics of his hand. And everybody’s got different preferences for how they like the shape of the glove. I wanted it my way.
So, the moral of the story is…to break in a catchers glove the right way, play catch. A lot of it. I think I’ve seen just about every method known to man, and that’s the best way I know.