Baseball History
Baseball Equipment

How have baseball gloves changed over the past 50 years?

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Answered 2010-01-12 21:37:42
Bill Doak's invention was the ancestor of all modern gloves.

The first players to use Baseball gloves were often taunted and teased as being "too soft" or "sissies" because they did not want to catch the ball with their bare hands.

The first baseball gloves were used in the 1870s and were designed so the player could knock the ball to the ground and not necessarily catch it. Many early baseball gloves were simple leather gloves with the fingertips cut off, supposedly to allow for the same control of a bare hand, but with extra padding. The adoption of the baseball glove by baseball star Albert Spalding when he began playing first base influenced more infielders to begin using gloves. By the mid 1890s it was the norm for players to wear gloves in the field.

Pre 1900s - Gloves had no web and are referred to as "workman" style gloves.

1900 - 1915 - Gloves had sewn in webs known as "full webs" These webs were sewn directly to the thumb and forefinger and extended to where the thumb and forefinger meet By 1910 1 inch webs start appearing.

1920's - 1930's - A vertical tunnel loop web was used. Either two or four elongated loops were sewn in directly to the thumb and forefinger through which passed a simple rawhide lace.

The "Bill Doak Era" of baseball Gloves begins.

The largest improvement ever in glove design happened in 1920, when Bill Doak, a journeyman pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, approached Rawlings with an idea for a web laced between the first finger and thumb. Before Doak's invention, gloves were primarily protective equipment that kept fielders' hands and fingers from being hurt by hard hit balls. Doak developed the idea of putting a substantial webbing between the glove's thumb and first finger to form a substantial pre-formed pocket in which to catch the ball. The Rawlings "Bill Doak" model that was first introduced in 1920 was so revolutionary that it remained available until 1953 with only minor modifications. Doak's invention was the ancestor of all modern gloves.

1940's - 1950 - the full modern webs began to be used. Until the late 1940's fielders gloves had no lacing between the fingers. These gloves are referred to as "Spit finger" Gloves also known as Pre war gloves.

1950 - 1960 - Most gloves have lacing between the finger although you will find an occasional split finger. The full web triple tunnel style dominates this era.

1960 - 1970 - The 1950s full web tunnel style still shows up, and with more lacing "weaved" in and out of the web showing on the outside.

1970 - 1980 - Although a 12" size rule was made in the 1950s outfielder Gloves begin to be made as long as 13 - 14". For more information including a guide for dating baseball gloves see Related Links below.

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