What Is the Purpose of Baseball Gloves: History and Purpose

It is a common scene in any baseball game. A catcher walks up to the pitcher before each inning, they have a quick chat, and then the catcher dons their glove.

It is such a ubiquitous image that we often take it for granted, but have you ever stopped to wonder why catchers wear gloves? 

Their First Appearance Was After One Catcher’s Injury

As it turns out, the history of the baseball glove is quite interesting. They first started appearing in the late 1870 as a way to protect players from injuries.

At the time, most players did not wear gloves and as a result, injuries were quite common. In fact, it was an injury to one particular player that led to the widespread adoption of gloves in baseball. 

In 1870, a catcher named Doug Allison injured his thumb while attempting to catch a pitch. When Allison returned to the game, he used a glove to protect his injured left hand, and thus, the original concept of baseball gloves was born. 

What Do Baseball Gloves Bring to Players? 

source: coach.com

Pain is not the only reason why baseball gloves are so important. Gloves also provide various advantages to catchers and pitchers.

Better Grip 

If you’ve ever held a baseball or Softball, you know that they can be pretty slippery little things (that’s why it’s so satisfying to make an amazing catch).

A good grip is important for fielders because it allows them to catch the ball more securely and prevents it from popping out (which would be pretty embarrassing).

It’s also important for pitchers because a good grip on the ball gives them more control over where they want to throw it. 

A Stronger Throw

Speaking of pitchers, did you know that gloves also help them throw the ball harder?

It’s true! By gripping the ball tighter, pitchers can make a stronger throwing motion and add some extra speed to their pitches.

Additionally, the extra padding of a glove helps protect their hands from injury. 

More Protection from Potential Injuries

When you’re playing any sport, there’s always a risk of getting injured. Fortunately, gloves can help reduce that risk by providing some extra protection for players’ hands.

Fielders use their hands constantly to catch balls, dive for balls, and make quick throws to other players, so it’s important that they have some padding in case they take an unlucky tumble or get hit by a wayward ball.

And as anyone who has ever been hit by a fastball can attest, that padding comes in handy for pitchers too! 

To Prevent Sunburns/tan lines?

The last reason I wanted to mention is probably not one that you’ve thought of before – Sunburns/tan lines?

Yes, really! If you’ve ever been to a baseball game on a sunny day, you’ll notice that most of the players are wearing long sleeves (even if it’s really hot out).

That’s because players want to avoid getting sunburned or getting weird tan lines from their gloves. No one wants their glove tan line to be permanent! 

Do All Baseball Players Wear Gloves? 

Not all baseball players wear gloves while playing. Most outfielders do not wear gloves because they do not need them to catch fly balls or throw out baserunners effectively.

However, every infielder does wear gloves while playing because they need them to ensure a good grip on the ball when making plays.

First basemen also use special mitts designed specifically for catching throws from pitchers so they can get a good grip on them without having to use their bare hands. 

Different Types of Baseball Gloves 

Many different baseball gloves are available on the market today, each designed for specific positions or players’ needs.

As we’ve already mentioned, catcher’s gloves are larger than other gloves to provide more protection for the hand but also so that they can be easily removed when needed.

First baseman’s mitts are similarly designed to be easily removed when necessary but are significantly larger than regular gloves to catch throws from pitchers more effectively.

Pitchers’ gloves are made with extra padding in order for them to better grip the ball when throwing pitches.

And infielder’s gloves usually have shallow pockets so that they can quickly transfer the ball from glove to hand when necessary.

Outfielder’s gloves tend to be smaller than other gloves, so they do not weigh down outfielders when trying to make plays quickly. 


The next time you watch a baseball game, take a closer look at the players’ gloves. You might be surprised by how much history and purpose is behind such a simple piece of equipment!

Whether they’re protecting players from injuries or helping them perform their duties on the field effectively, there’s no doubt that baseball gloves play an important role in America’s favorite pastime!