The catcher may occupy the most difficult position in baseball. He must call pitches, manage the delicate psyche of the pitcher, catch balls that may be thrown 100 mph, scoop up wild pitches, throw out speedy runners looking to swipe second or third base, block home plate from runners looking to plow into him and spend much of the game in a body-punishing crouch. By finding the best possible glove, the catcher can make his job a little bit easier.
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A baseball glove has fingers. A mitt does not. Catchers and first basemen are the only players who use mitts, which are better for catching balls that don't hit the pocket of the glove and for scooping up balls in the dirt. The highest quality catcher's mitts are made of top-grain leather. These gloves tend to be heavier and require a longer break-in period, according to Hit Run Score. Kipskin, cow hide and kangaroo skin, used in some of the early baseball shoes, are also used in some high-end catcher's mitts. Catcher's mitts range from 31 to 34 inches in diameter, and mitts made for youth players usually measure 31 to 32 inches. The best gloves for youth players are made with smaller hand openings and finger stalls with a wrist adjustment. Regardless of the price, the best catcher's mitt for you must fit your hand and feel comfortable.
You need a catcher's mitt that is well constructed in the thumb area. The harder the glove when you buy it, the better the construction. A softer catcher's mitt that already feels broken in will break down more quickly than a stiffer mitt. Modern catcher's mitts tend to be larger in size with a shallower pocket, which enables the catcher to get the ball out of his mitt more quickly. In fact, Hit Run Score says catcher's mitts are evolving to look more like first baseman's mitts.
For both adult and youth catcher's mitts, Wise 4 Living recommends sticking with the leading brands such as Wilson, Easton, SSK, Akadema, Mizuno and Nike. Websites such as Baseball Rampage offer a huge range of catcher's mitts, along with a number of recommended mitts. The recommendations range from an All Star CM100TM under-sized training model at $49.99 to a Mizuno GXC105Prospect at $45.99, with prices accurate as of early 2014.
For younger kids, a pigskin mitt may be ideal. Hit Run Score says pigskin is less durable that leather and also less expensive, so it is a good choice for kids who will outgrown their mitt in a season or two. The big name manufacturers usually make catcher's mitts and other baseball gloves in good, better and best categories. Baseball Training Instruction says the the "better" catcher's mitts, with a mid-level price, usually are more than adequate for a young player until he reaches high school. The site recommends the Mizuno MVP as an excellent mid-priced glove, costing $115 as of early 2014.
For the high school catcher, you should consider the best quality of catcher's mitt, because good pitchers are throwing almost as hard as the pros and the risk of an injury to your thumb and palm is much greater. But you may not have to pay a huge amount of money for a high quality mitt. OutAtThePlate.com gave the Akadema AGC98 youth mitt, a rating of 4.9 out of 5 and it retails for approximately $65 as of early 2014.