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Thread: The First Baseball Gloves

  1. #1
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    The First Baseball Gloves

    Baseball player started regularly wearing gloves on their hands in 1875. In preceding years, players had taken to diamonds across America with nothing but bare skin to stop those hard, worn balls from passing by their bodies on a quest to halt to the opposing runner. The first instance of a player wearing a glove occurred in 1870 when Doug Allison, a catcher for Cincinnati Red Stockings, donned a pair of half fingered, buckskin mittens to protect his aching hands. Soon after this historic occasion, all catchers began wearing the buckskin mittens to protect their aching hands.

    Four years later, in 1875, Charles C. Waite became the first fielder to wear a glove. Waite, not wanting to attract attention, chose an inconspicuous tan work glove to protect his sore fielding hand. Not surprising, he was greeted with scorn and ridicule from the other players, including his own teammates. Within 20 years, all players were wearing baseball gloves to protect their hands.

    Please add whatever you feel is relevant.
    Last edited by runningshoes; 10-19-2006 at 01:19 AM.
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    Replica Gloves

    This is a pair of replica gloves not unlike the ones wore by Allison in 1875.

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    Which developed into full fingered gloves

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  4. #4
    You mean there have been newer ones made? Those look similar to mine... No wonder i never made the team.
    Last edited by EvanAparra; 10-19-2006 at 01:25 AM.

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    and eventually the "pillow mitt"

    This one is from 1895.

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    1890 Goldsmith

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  7. #7
    Did the catcher use the same glove as the rest of the fielders?

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    1890 Spalding

    In his book America's National Game, Spalding takes credit for the pillow mitt. He says he developed it by placing more and more padding in his regular glove which he started using in 1877.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EvanAparra
    Did the catcher use the same glove as the rest of the fielders?
    I was just asking myself that same question. It's one I can't answer with any certainty right now. I'm inclined to say they did simply because the glove, as far as I know, did not develop much beyond what you see in the first two pictures until years later, but I'm sure Brian or someone else can shed some light on this.
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    In 1880 the baseball glove looked like a cut off work glove. Fingertips were still exposed in many early gloves. Padding was minimal. Catchers and first baseman usually wore a glove on each hand. Fielders usually wore one glove on his catching hand.
    Even ten years after the first glove was used, the catchers and first basemen were using at the very least, very similar gloves.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by runningshoes
    Even ten years after the first glove was used, the catchers and first basemen were using at the very least, very similar gloves.
    So first basemen and catchers were throwing with gloves on their throwing hands?

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    Quote Originally Posted by EvanAparra
    So first basemen and catchers were throwing with gloves on their throwing hands?
    Looks like it, although I doubt that lasted very long. We'll know more before long.
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    Albert spalding gives this account of his teammate Waite using the glove for the first time:

    The first glove I ever saw on the hand of a ball player in a game was worn by Charles C. Waite, in Boston, in 1875. He had come from New Haven and was playing at first base. The glove worn by him was of flesh color, with a large, round opening in the back. Now, I had for a good while felt the need of some sort of hand protection for myself. In those days clubs did not carry an extra carload of pitchers, as now. For several years I had pitched in every game played by the Boston team, and had developed severe bruises on the inside of my left hand. When it is recalled that every ball pitched had to be returned, and that every swift one coming my way, from infielders, outfielders or hot from the bat, must be caught or stopped, some idea may be gained of the punishment received.

    Therefore, I asked Waite about his glove. He confessed that he was a bit ashamed to wear it, but had it on to save his hand. He also admitted that he had chosen a color as inconspicuous as possible, because he didn't care to attract attention. He added that the opening on the back was for purpose of ventilation.

    Meanwhile my own hand continued to take its medicine with utmost regularity, occasionally being bored with a warm twister that hurt excruciatingly. Still, it was not until 1877 that I overcame my scruples against joining the 'kid-glove aristocracy' by donning a glove. When I did at last decide to do so, I did not select a flesh-colored glove, but got a black one, and cut out as much of the back as possible to let the air in.

    Happily, in my case, the presence of a glove did not call out the ridicule that had greeted Waite. I had been playing so long and had become so well known that the innovation seemed rather to evoke sympathy than hilarity. I found that the glove, thin as it was, helped considerably, and inserted one pad after another until a good deal of relief was afforded. If anyone wore a padded glove before this date I do not know it. The 'pillow mitt' was a later innovation.
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    Cricket players were using gloves back in the 1830s.

    First known baseball player to wear a glove regularly was Knickerbockers of Albany catcher Ben Delavergne circa 1860.

    Gloves became a popular as pitchers began throwing the ball faster as their release point rose in the early 1870s.

    Spalding's claim of Charles Waitt in 1875 is one of many of his misleading factual statements. Spalding's catcher Deacon White actually used a glove from 1873-76.

    Few players other than first baseman and catchers were wearing gloves prior to the 1880s.

    Padded catcher mitts came about in the 1880s. The padding became a necessity as again pitcher's release point became still higher and their velocity increased.

    Two-handed gloves came about because catchers used both hands to stop a pitch but by at least 1884 that custom was dying out and the padded left-handed (usually) glove became popular.
    Last edited by Brian McKenna; 10-19-2006 at 03:05 PM.

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    I'm ording a bunch of gloves from 1870 to 1928. Anyone try those babies out? one word: OUCH!
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  16. #16
    Who was the last player NOT to wear a glove?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Williamsburg2599
    Who was the last player NOT to wear a glove?
    Bid McPhee?
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  18. #18
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    in 1894 john denny and pat flaherty were the last to never wear a glove in the majors

    mcphee was the last position-player holdout, not wearing a glove until 1896

    pitcher gus weyhing wasn't wearing a glove in 1901 and likewise joe yeager in 1902

    a washington post article in 1909 estimated that only 2/3 of minor leaguers wore gloves

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    Quote Originally Posted by bkmckenna
    a washington post article in 1909 estimated that only 2/3 of minor leaguers wore gloves
    Did it state why?
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  20. #20
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    "A washington post article in 1909 estimated that only 2/3 of minor leaguers wore gloves"

    Are you sure they were referring to 2/3 of minor leaguers in 1909? By then either all MLers wore gloves or almost all of them.

    The last minor leaguer not to wear a glove that I have read about is Jack Lawler in 1899. Because the reporter mentioned it in his write up, I assume this was a rare occurrence in that year.

    The Auburn, NY team of the 1860's was interviewed thirty years later. They looked down on players needing to wear gloves, and even claimed they were better fielders!

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    Quote Originally Posted by runningshoes
    Did it state why?
    Just quoting A Game of Inches:

    Looked up the article on ProQuest but too big to add to bbf:

    05/09/1909, Washington Post, titled "The Great National Game in Dollars and Cents"

    The article discusses costs of equipment for leagues. It doesn't actually say what A Game of Inches implies. It talks about the cost of gloves saying that each major leaguer has two gloves, at $7 each, "That amounts to $7,840 for the players in the big leagues, to which $56,000 must be added if it is assumed that two-thirds of the small leaguers wear gloves."

    I'm not so sure how to take that 2/3 comment but don't know if I can take the leap A Game of Inches did.
    Last edited by Brian McKenna; 10-22-2006 at 10:32 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyK
    The Auburn, NY team of the 1860's was interviewed thirty years later. They looked down on players needing to wear gloves, and even claimed they were better fielders!
    That's great to know that players/fans have yearned for the good ole days even from the beginning.
    Last edited by Brian McKenna; 10-22-2006 at 10:32 AM.

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