Liberman: Why did the baseball glove evolve so slowly?

From Noah Liberman at Our Game on June 9, 2014:

“I had my picture taken with Home Run Baker. He came to the ballpark in the fifties and I saw the glove he used. I don’t know how the hell they caught anything with those gloves, honest to God. The fingers were separated, no lacing there, unbelievable. I said, ‘Mr. Baker, how’d you ever catch it with that glove?’” —Brooks Robinson.

A few days ago, I wondered to John Thorn why the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) has no Equipment Committee. Isn’t this odd considering the important roles of the ball, bat, glove and spikes? For example, the glove, first used in a major league game in 1870, allowed infielders to be defter and more aggressive. It encouraged pitchers to throw overhand (because now catchers wouldn’t squawk). It brought about the infield fly rule (because you could now expect a catch). And it contributed to the introduction of the lively ball, in 1910, because fielding averages were at record highs and, frankly, the batters needed a break.

But as radical as the glove was, it was also stunningly slow to evolve. The reasons are fascinating in themselves and illuminate the essential nature of our game – which is precisely why equipment deserves its own SABR committee.

So let’s look at the charmingly, astonishingly slow evolution of the baseball glove.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: June 10, 2014. Last Updated: June 10, 2014.