"Take care of your glove and it will take care of you."
I was having a discussion with the parent of one of my younger students during last-year's Summer Camp and the young catcher interrupted our conversation, by presenting me with his glove, saying that "I can't get my glove broken in." The dad laughed and grabbed the glove out of his son's hands and what occurred next is something that I still have nightmares about to this day. - ALERT: may be disturbing to some catchers! - He held the glove in both of his hands and proceeded to turn the glove inside out over and over again. I had to fight back the tears, as this poor young glove was being tortured right in front of my eyes.
The dad looked at my face and immediately saw my discontent with the situation and asked, "what's wrong?". I kindly explained that he has just committed the glove-care equivalent to capital murder. He then asked, "well what else should I do to get this thing broken in before the weekend?".
This question exemplifies the biggest misconception in glove-care. There is no quick fix. You cannot buy a quality mitt on Monday and use it in a game on Saturday morning. You just can't. A glove needs to be treated like a baby. It needs a lot of attention early on. A little "ointment" here and there is often necessary. You want to give it as much room as it needs to breath and develop and you need to give it a lot of love.
Over the years I've heard of every possible way to break in a glove and can tell you that there is really only one way to do it right. A little bit of glove oil, gently rubbed over the inside and edges of the glove, and then use it as often as you can in practice or pound a ball into the pocket of the glove while watching TV until it is ready for game use. Don't tie a string around the glove, don't place it underneath your mattress and sleep on it, don't sit on it or turn it inside out, don't steam it and down whatever you do - don't even think about placing your glove in an oven or microwave! EVER!
You want to break your glove in and have it ready to use in games for years to come? USE IT! When your not using it you should keep two baseballs (or in the girl's case, keep one softball) in the glove at all times the glove is not being used. The glove should not close on it's own while resting in the palm of your hand. You should keep it in a bag separate from your gear bag. Even if your gear bag has a compartment for it, don't use it! Dirt will get into your bag and will make it's way to that compartment and over time it will dry the glove out considerably. If your glove starts to dry out, wipe it with a barely damp cloth and re-apply a small amount of glove oil.
Good gloves aren't cheap, so if you want it to last long and maintain it's proper functionality you need to take glove care seriously. People who've come to our camps know just how serious I am about glove maintenance. For future reference warning: If you want to use your hand again, don't try to put your hand in another catcher's glove, ;-).
Thanks for reading this month's Tip of the Month!