Baseball is ubiquitous in American culture. You likely played it as a kid and you probably know someone who plays it now, even if it’s just a local league. Because it is so prevalent in our culture you already know that, even in pickup games at the local field, having the right equipment is important. You can’t just head out there bare-handed! And, while stickball does have a certain youthful appeal, the sport is more fun when you use the right bats.
So what kind of bat is the “right” bat? And which glove are you supposed to get for your favorite player’s next birthday? To help you out on your supply shopping trip, here is a quick overview of the basic and yet, in many ways, most personal two pieces of equipment your favorite baseball enthusiast might need.
Not all gloves are created equal. According to Homerun Monkey (a company that sells high quality gloves), “the right glove can be the difference between great fielding and average fielding.” While it’s true that there is a basic/generic style of glove that will suit most positions, some positions require very specific types of gloves, especially if that position will be played regularly. Catcher’s mitts, for example, are bigger and more oval in shape and are built with extra padding to protect the catcher’s hands for the duration of the game. In-field gloves are typically smaller and lighter weight to help players get at the balls they’ve caught more easily, while outfield gloves are built more for catching and scooping the ball up off the ground so they’re a little bigger (though not as big as catcher’s mitts) and have more padding.
Sizing is also an important factor in glove choice. Unlike the rest of a player’s uniform, you cannot buy a player a glove that is too big and hope that she grows into it over time or that it’ll have to work because it is on sale. The best thing you can do, especially when you want to order your player’s glove online is to measure the player’s hand before placing your order.
There are also a variety of different glove configurations. The depth of the pocket, whether or not the back is open or closed, etc. A lot of this will depend on the player’s preference but remember: the position being played will need to be factored in to your buying decision as well.
Finally, make sure the glove you buy is built well. Cheaply built gloves might be less expensive now, but you’ll have to replace them more often. It is better to buy gloves that are made well. Over the long run, these gloves actually save money.
There is something about the crack of a bat when it makes contact with a pitch that is just thrilling. Even a player who spends most of his time in the outfield and is rarely (if ever) put in his team’s batting lineup will want to have a baseball bat of his own.
Sizing and material regulations vary by league so if your favorite player is playing as part of an organized league, make sure you check the regulations before you go shopping. The last thing you want is to buy a bat she can’t take to practice or games! This is especially true for kids who are joining Little League. The BBCOR mandates the regulations for non-wooden bats (most Little League teams use aluminum) with the intention of reducing a ball’s speed and improving the team’s safety.
A player’s perfect bat, though, is almost always a matter of preference. Heavier bats wield more power. Lighter bats are easier to swing. Shorter bats are easier for smaller players to wield properly than the long bats that are preferred by taller players.
Obviously there are other important pieces of equipment that baseball players need. Proper shoes (cleats) for running, a good hat to keep the sun out of her eyes, etc. More often than not, though, it all comes down to the bat and the glove so make sure you get the right kinds!