Why Do Baseball Players Wear Mittens? – 4 Reasons

A. Coatess

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A. Coatess



Sean Hunter

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why do baseball players wear mittens

Mittens may come unnoticed as they look just like any other gear baseball players wear at all their games. But beneath the simple and unassuming design is their vital function— hand protection.

Have you ever asked why do baseball players wear mittens?

In baseball, mittens serve as sliding hand protector, meaning they provide protection for a runner’s hand, wrist, and fingers while sliding into the base. The mitts also help the player slide faster to the base, thus reducing the chances of getting tagged out.

Everything About Baseball Sliding Mitts

1. What is a baseball sliding mitt?


Mittens are a famous protective sliding glove used by baseball professionals and amateurs alike to protect their hands from possible injuries while running between bases. At first glance, baseball mitts look closely similar to that of an oven mitt.

2. How does it work?


The mitts are enclosed with soft padding on palms and fingers for protection and grip enhancement. They have adjustable straps that secure the hand in place, aside from the durable fabric that is designed to withstand and reduce the friction generated while sliding. As a result, the player can glide faster to the base.

So, which hand do you wear sliding mitt on? Baserunners would wear the mitts on their sliding hand, which varies from one person to another. Most players would pick their dominant hand for sliding, which is usually the right.

Fortunately, this protective equipment is designed to be reversible, so you don’t have to think too much about which hand for sliding mitt.

3. History of Baseball Mitts

Sliding mitts for baseball appeared in history as an item of clothing that keeps players warm during cold-weather games.

It was in the late 1800s when some players started to wear mitts, cultivating the sliding mitt youth history. Come the 1900s, mittens’ popularity increased as they now have become a common gear used by players on the field.

The trend continued in the 20th century. However, it died down in the 1960s when the game highlighted the importance of players’ speed and agility. Picking right where they left off, mittens have undergone several improvements and have become once again popular in the 1990s up until this day.

However, sliding mitts’ popularity truly took off in 2010 when Scott Podsednik, an MLB outfielder, started using a custom-made baseball mitt for hand protection.

4. Types of Baseball Mittens

Baseball running glove serves as a hand guard and wrist guard. As such, they are designed uniquely for each position. Here are the four types of mitts:

  • Infielder Gloves


Among all other mitts, infielder gloves are the smallest kind. They’re strategically made this way to allow infielders to move the ball from glove to hand, letting them make speedy plays and transitions.

  • Outfielder Gloves


Compared to the infielder’s gloves, the outfielder’s gloves are bigger and feature a deeper pocket. Because of this, outfielders are allowed to catch and secure fly balls at any given time.

  • First Base Gloves


The size of the first baseman’s mitt is between that of a catcher’s mitt and a conventional fielder’s glove. They also have a rounder shape, deeper pockets, and more padding. One feature that sets them apart from other fielding gloves is their lack of cut slots for individual fingers.

  • Catcher Gloves


Catcher gloves are the biggest and thickest padded baseball mitt. It is made especially for catchers to catch quick pitches that go at about 100 mph in the air. Also, these gloves do not have holes in their pockets to increase durability.

Reasons Why Baseball Players Wear Mittens


Mittens are worn for several reasons in baseball. Here’s why:

  • Hand protection – Mittens are used to protect players’ hands and wrists when catching, fielding, and sliding. They are cushioned with soft but thick padding, which absorbs immediate impact to the ball or the ground, helping prevent fatal injuries.
  • Enhanced grip and control – Mittens help enhance the grip and control of the ball, all thanks to the materials they’re made of. The materials provide enough friction that enables players to have a steady grip on the ball and make a precise catch and throw.
  • Increase field efficiency – Mittens increase fielding effectiveness by providing more surface area to scoop the ball. They let players swiftly transfer the ball from the glove to the throwing hand, allowing for quicker and more precise throws.
  • Adjust to weather conditions – As shown in history, cold weather conditions are what mittens were originally used for — that stands true until now. In cold weather, mittens act as insulation, protecting the hands from becoming numb.

Statistics of Hands and Wrist Injuries From 2011-2016

Here’s a rundown of all injuries sustained by Major and Minor League Baseball players throughout the year 2011-2016. There were 4478 hand injuries and 1748 wrist injuries during the study period:

Position Hand/finger (%) Wrist (%)
1) Infielder 32% 41%
2) Catcher 20% 15%
3) Outfielder 23% 37%
4) Starting Pitcher 18% 5%
5) Relief Pitcher 7% 2%

Consequently, the study results also showed that the presence of protective gear, could decrease the number of missed participation in a game, especially those due to contusions.

Tips for Choosing the Perfect Mittens


Choosing the right baseball mittens is crucial in preventing baseball sliding injuries. Here’s how you can pick the right baseball mitt for you:

  • Determine the perfect size – This part is crucial when picking a sliding mitt. You can determine your size by trying it on and seeing if the mitt is snug enough to stay in place without limiting your movements.
  • Determine your position – There are four types of baseball mittens, and each type is made specifically for a position, so pick out mittens based on your position.
  • Durability – Choose mittens that are durable and sturdy enough to withstand multiple games. Usually, the best baseball gloves are made of cowhide or steerhide.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the differences between baseball gloves and mittens?

The main difference between the two is that a baseball sliding glove has finger holes at the tip, while mittens don’t. Mittens are also aided with more padding than gloves, making the former be used in scooping balls and the latter for batting practice.

How often should baseball mittens be replaced?

There’s no standard on how often you could replace it. However, you can change your mitts when the material becomes weak and shows signs of cracking.

How do I clean and maintain my baseball mittens?

You can wipe your baseball mittens clean with a mixture of warm water and mild hand soap. However, make sure to use as little water as possible, as soaking the mitten is not recommended.

Then, let the baseball mitten air dry in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight. To keep your mitts in tip-top shape, periodically wipe the entire glove with a leather conditioner.

Are there any specific rules governing baseball mittens use?

When it comes to size, there are no sliding mitt rules explicitly stating that. However, it’s up to the umpire’s discretion to regulate those that are allowed on the field.

What is an alternative for baseball mitts?

A player could hold his batting gloves while sliding as an alternative to black gloves base runners wear. They could also be using bare hands; however, that requires much skill in execution.

What’s the brand of Trea Turner’s sliding mitt?

Trea Turner’s sliding mitt is a Benik W-137B Short Sliding Mitt, with his number etched on the velcro strap. This mitt was specifically designed for finger and thumb protection.


Baseball players are always at risk of injuries while on the field. One of the most vulnerable parts of their body is their hands and wrists when they slide in between bases and scoop balls lunging in the air.

So, why do baseball players wear mittens? They are for hand and wrist protection and are also relied upon for grip and hold enhancement, as well as improvement in overall fielding efficiency.

Hope this answers your questions!

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