Choosing a baseball glove is completely personal. They’re selected based primarily on feel, and players have their own unique methods for breaking them in. Seattle Mariners ace pitcher, Felix Hernandez revealed that the first thing he does with all of his new gloves is throw them in the microwave. Seriously. Whatever the method (or madness), that journey from cowhide to retailer to player is a crucial one, and adidas is hoping to play matchmaker with its new Phenom series glove.
Altering the construction of baseball gloves can be risky because of how attached players are to what they currently wear. While some companies are completely transforming the way they construct gloves by utilizing different materials, adidas is focusing on updating current models in ways that satisfy baseball traditionalists.
“Being such a traditional sport, it is very difficult to break that thought process with new ideas for the game, even though they may make the athlete better,” says Chuck Larson, Senior Product Development Manager of Team Sports at DICK’S Sporting Goods. “The idea I was using through my development process [involves] new, innovative materials to assist in making the product lighter in weight and stronger but just as durable as a traditional product.”
The 12.75-inch Phenom glove is made using U.S. Top Grain leather, but Larson and his team were able to knock off about 20 percent of the weight of a normal mitt.
“The amount of wool and PE boards in the inner-glove construction adds weight, moisture, and bacteria over the life of the glove,” Larson says. “We wanted to figure out how we could create a glove that did the opposite without jeopardizing durability.”
That meant rethinking the guts, so Larson and his team turned to a different glove sport for ideas.
“I started working with some foam that I used in my hockey development career,” he says. “The foam composition is what we were after. We worked with the supplier and factory to create foam that was rigid enough to support the glove, but not too rigid that it would hinder the manufacturing process.”
adidas called upon former employees who used to play college baseball to be guinea pigs, before offering samples to D1 coaches and a few pros.
“We ended up creating two foams with different densities for the outer main construction areas of the glove,” Larson says. “And a third foam to allow for more flexibility in the finger stalls.”
The result is a familiar core feel in a leaner package.
“[The testers] were quite speechless on the weight of the glove,” he says.
A baseball glove is about as sacred to a baseball player as the game itself. Not only is it essential to all players, but it can also hold superstitious value for the wearer. In fact, two-time Gold Glover and Toronto Blue Jay shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki has worn the same mitt for upwards of eight years, despite its sheet-in-the-wind floppiness. So choose your next mitt wisely and check out the rest of the Phenom collection here.