If the Glove Fits, Protect It
With the stigma removed, glove development accelerated. Extra padding was added along with shallow webbing between the fingers. Glove usage was now an accepted part of the game and in 1895, the National League and the American Association created the first restrictions on glove size.
After padding, the next innovation was presented by St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bill Doak in 1920. Doak’s design replaced the leather webbing with a series of straps between the first finger and thumb, creating a superior pocket that would better absorb the balls impact on the palm and fingers. Doak’s idea was patented on August 22, 1922 and went into full production at the Rawlings Sporting Goods Company.
Glove design continued to change from the 1930s when a more modern web was introduced with one or two straps and no lacing between the fingers. From the late 1940s on, laces connected the fingers. A 12-inch size rule was instituted for outfielder gloves in the 1950s. The popular A2000 model was introduced by Wilson in 1957 and the true modern era was born. Today’s gloves can measure as long as 13 to 14 inches.
Leather has remained the standard material of choice but there is now an alternative that is gaining popularity. Synthetic gloves are currently available in the marketplace and they are being utilized by MLB players in growing numbers. Many players recognize that the synthetic gloves are much lighter and more durable than leather and all-synthetic gloves will eventually become an industry standard. The Hall’s collection contains several synthetic gloves and they are utilized to teach glove evolution and innovation.