Do MLB Players Flare Their Gloves?

Baseball is a sport that is full of traditions and customs. From the game itself to the gear used by its players, everything is steeped in history and nostalgia. One of the most iconic pieces of equipment used by Major League Baseball (MLB) players is the glove. The glove is a fundamental tool for any baseball player, and one of the most recognizable features is the way the glove is “flared.” But what does it mean to flare a glove, and why do players do it? This article will explore the reasons why MLB players flare their gloves, and how it can affect their performance.

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What is Flaring a Glove?

The term “flaring” a glove refers to the act of intentionally bending or curving the pocket of the glove. This is done in order to make the pocket more shallow, which can make it easier to catch a ball. Flaring can also make the glove more flexible, allowing the player to more easily adjust to the size and shape of the ball. Flaring is a popular technique used by many MLB players, and it is a skill that is often taught to players at a young age.

History of Flaring

Flaring a glove is a tradition that dates back to the early days of baseball. Players have always used the technique to customize their gloves and make them more comfortable. In the days before modern technology, glove makers would often shape and bend the leather of the glove to create a more ergonomic shape. As the game of baseball evolved, so did the technology used to make gloves. Nowadays, gloves are made with a variety of materials, including synthetic leather, nylon, and Kevlar. Despite these advances, the technique of flaring is still used by many MLB players.

Benefits of Flaring

Flaring a glove can have a number of benefits for a player. The most obvious benefit is that it can make the glove more comfortable to use. By making the pocket of the glove more shallow, the player can more easily adjust to the size and shape of the ball. This can make it easier for the player to catch the ball, as well as improve their reaction time. Flaring can also make the glove more flexible, allowing the player to use it in a variety of ways. This can be especially useful for infielders, who often need to adjust their glove to make difficult plays.

Drawbacks of Flaring

Despite the many benefits of flaring, there are also some drawbacks that players should be aware of. One of the most common problems is that a flared glove can be more prone to coming apart. This is because the leather of the glove is weakened by the bending and curving, making it more susceptible to wear and tear. Additionally, flaring can make it more difficult for the player to scoop up ground balls, as the pocket is shallower and less supportive.

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How to Flare a Glove

Flaring a glove is not a difficult process, although it can take some time to perfect. The first step is to ensure that the glove is damp. This will help to prevent the leather from cracking or tearing when it is bent. Once the glove is damp, the next step is to bend the pocket of the glove. This can be done using either your hands or an object, such as a bat or a pipe. It is important to be careful when bending the pocket, as too much pressure can cause the leather to tear.

Techniques for Flaring

There are a few different techniques that can be used to flare a glove. The most common method is to use the “push-pull” technique. This involves pushing the pocket of the glove up and outwards, and then pulling it down and inwards. This will create a curved shape that is more shallow, which is ideal for catching a ball. Another method is to use a “rolling” technique, which involves rolling the pocket of the glove back and forth. This is a slower process, but it can help to create a more even shape.

Tools for Flaring

In addition to using your hands, there are also a few tools that can be used to flare a glove. One of the most common is a glove flaring tool. These tools are designed specifically for flaring gloves, and they can be found at most sporting goods stores. Another tool that is often used is a pipe. This can be used to bend the leather of the glove, although it is important to be careful not to apply too much pressure.

How to Maintain a Flared Glove

Once a glove has been flared, it is important to maintain it in order to ensure that it stays in good condition. The first step is to make sure that the glove is always kept clean and dry. This will help to prevent the leather from cracking or tearing. Additionally, it is important to regularly oil the glove to keep the leather soft and pliable. This can be done with a leather conditioner or a mild soap and water solution.

Conclusion

Flaring a glove is a skill that has been used by MLB players for decades. It can provide a number of benefits, such as improved comfort and flexibility. However, there are also some drawbacks to flaring, such as a weakened pocket and difficulty scooping up ground balls. It is important for players to understand both the benefits and drawbacks of flaring, as well as the proper techniques and tools for doing so. With the right knowledge and practice, flaring a glove can be a great way to customize your glove and improve your performance.