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How to Break In a Baseball Glove


Soften It Up: If You're Rolling in Gloves

Some players stick with a favorite glove year after year. Others break in a new one fairly regularly -- and their methods can be pretty creative. Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez, reports ESPN, goes the microwave route.

Actually, a lot of players take this approach [source: Caple]. Exposing a glove to extreme heat quickly makes the leather pliable. Less than a minute in the microwave can make for a very soft glove. Fifteen minutes in a 350 F (177 C) oven (preheated and then turned off) can do the trick, too [source: Erskine].

But you'd be hard-pressed to find a glove manufacturer who recommends either of these methods. While cooking a glove makes it softer faster, it also makes it wear out faster, since high temperatures can weaken leather fibers [source: Erskine]. Remember, this is actual animal skin you're dealing with. It can, in fact, cook.

If you take this approach, it's important to watch the glove while it heats up -- if you overcook it, it may get so soft and weak you can't use it at all [source: Erskine].

But if your next $300 glove is already being thrown at you, no big deal.

Some players go another damaging route: soaking. They'll dunk a glove in water for a couple of minutes before heating or shaping it. This, too, is effective but risky, since prolonged exposure to water can speed deterioration of the leather. It might also lead to mildew, since the interior can take a while to dry out [source: Erskine].

A less wet but more energetic technique, the "beat the crap out of it" route is pretty popular, too. Players stomp on it, take a bat to it, hammer it, throw it off a balcony and, at least in legend, run it over with a car. These methods do soften the leather, but they're also difficult to control. You may end up with a pretty mangled glove.

For those short on time and long on extra gloves, beating, cooking and dunking may be perfectly wise choices for softening a glove. Heck, why not combine them – dunk the glove in water, then microwave it, and then stomp away.

But those with just one glove and plenty of time before the season starts might want to take another approach.