Batting gloves

A surprising proportion of people who play slow-pitch softball wear batting gloves, but I definitely prefer not to. This is in contrast to my younger, baseball-playing days, when I usually wore two batting gloves. I don’t remember exactly why; I guess it felt better and provided me with a better grip. But I do remember that when I first got my dad to buy me a batting glove, at about age 7 or 8, I wanted a batting glove because I thought it was cool. It was a new, cool product that I could wear and use and be like the big-leaguers. The same reason a child would want cool new shoes or a cool pair of sunglasses. I guess from then on I never went back and eventually upgraded to two batting gloves.

Looking back, I wish I had been a person who didn’t wear batting gloves. It seems so much more tough and hard-core, like the baseball players who don’t change their hat throughout the year or rub all that pine tar and dirt on their helmet or always seem to get their uniform dirty. They play hard and tough and don’t care about any dirtiness or discomfort. I’m going to raise my kids not to wear batting gloves, even (especially) in the cold weather when we’re practicing for the new season.

Ted Williams was one person who didn’t care about discomfort but rather welcomed it, embraced it, and inflicted it upon himself with ardor. He famously took soft toss every day in spring training until his hands bled. He could only feel assured that he had practiced enough if he swung to the point that his hands bled. And he came back and did it every day after that, until his hands were so calloused that they probably couldn’t bleed anymore.

Interestingly, Ted Williams is one of the people who is thought to have maybe been the first Major Leaguer to wear batting gloves. That would have been in spring training, but Hawk Harrelson is well known to have been the first Major Leaguer to wear a batting glove (actually these early ones were all golf gloves) in a regular-season game.

Entirely apart from the blisters and pain, there are good reasons to wear batting gloves with a wooden bat. There is no leather or other-material grip, as there is on metal bats, so you have to put pine tar, rosin, dirt, and/or other substances on the handle to make it less smooth and slippery. Therefore, I don’t consider Major Leaguers less tough or manly because they use batting gloves. I still admire those who don’t wear them, though. The two main ones I’ve noticed in my lifetime are Moises Alou and Vladimir Guerrero. That Wikipedia article informed me of a few others who don’t wear them, either. Here are my favorites:
Moises Alou Vladimir Guerrero Brooks Conrad Jason Kendall Nate Schierholz Francisco Cervelli

I didn’t include Jorge Posada in that list because I can’t stand him, and even his gloveless batting doesn’t rescue my opinion of him. I think he is so overrated (even though isn’t rated all that highly, possibly (hopefully) not even a Hall of Famer) and don’t think he deserves whatever high praise he has received. He is only good because he has been lucky enough to be on the Yankees his whole career, surrounded by other, actually great players, and his defensive skills never improved over his entire Major League career.

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