How have baseball gloves changed over the past 50 years?
Bill Doak's invention was the ancestor of all modern
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
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
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
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
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.