The glove has long been the iconic piece of equipment on a baseball field. Ballplayers who truly love the game will carry a glove with them throughout their lives. It'll move from the bedroom at their parent's home ...to their college dorm room...to their apartment in a city...and on and on.
Gloves have most consistently been built with brown and black colors. And because of that, some might make a broad statement mentioning that gloves lack the flair that you'll see on its counter part: the baseball bat. Others might add that a glove is the exact same thing that it was in the 1950s. However, these statements are just generalities.
In the last 30-40 years, there has been quite a bit of excitement regarding baseball gloves. Manufacturers have tested out some pretty wacky technologies and players have worked to further customize their gloves to their performance and cosmetic preferences!
And there have been over a handful of examples of glove technology and modifications that we believe bordered on being wild. These seven instances are what we are calling our Craziest Baseball Gloves of All Time!
Let's dig in!
Mizuno Opti Web Baseball Glove
Below is a possible conversation that could have been exchanged between a ball player and their parent in the 1980s...
Ball Player: "Mom, I have practice in a 1/2 hour and I can't find my sunglasses!"
Mom: "Oh Timmy, you don't need sunglasses...you have the Mizuno Opti Web glove!"
If you fact checked that conversation, you might find that it never actually happened. However, one can wonder if the predicament described above is what the Mizuno glove designers were trying to cure when they designed the Mizuno Opti Web...
Yes, you are seeing that correctly. There is sun-blocking plastic that has been stitched into the web of a Mizuno glove. In the digging that I did on this glove, I couldn't tell if the plastic was supposed to serve exactly as sunglass lenses (i.e. you could look right through the plastic to see a ball hit into the sun) -OR- if the plastic was just meant to shield the sun from a fielder's eyes (like a closed web glove can do). However, it is safe to say that the technology wasn't effective enough to last up to today. But hey, you have to give them credit for trying something new!
Rawlings x Reebok THE PUMP Glove
For those baseball fans who grew up in the 1990s, this Rawlings glove is iconic. It was worn by none other than Jim Bowers in the movie, The Little Big League. The cinematic relief pitcher made a habit of continuously smashing that pump button before and after pitches to try and find a rhythm that would bring him luck on the mound...
In the early 1990s, Reebok's The Pump basketball shoes were all the rage. Rawlings decided that they would cross sports and bring The Pump to one of their baseball gloves. The look was actually pretty phenomenal as the all black glove, basket web and red pump button work well cosmetically...
I've never been able to put one of these on my hand, but the concept makes sense. Essentially, you press the pump button after you slip the glove on your hand, the air bladder inside the glove expands and your hand is snugly in the glove. Genius, right?!?
Akadema ABX00 Ambidextrous Glove
"You gotta love the thought, right?"
Like the two gloves mentioned prior, the above thought is also going to apply to the next glove on our list: Akadema's 12 Inch Ambidextrous model.
JustGloves carried this glove during 2013 and 2014. That was right around the time that Pat Venditte (the only true ambidextrous pitcher that has made it to Major League Baseball) was making his ascent through the minor leagues. This glove was made to be worn by a pitcher who is able to throw with both their left or right hand.
The glove is built with 6 fingers and adjustable loops on the backing of both sides of the glove to accommodate both the thumb and pinky of a left or right hand. Check it out:
We didn't keep it around for long at JustGloves, but while it was here, it was a great talking point for our Glove Experts.
Akadema Big 9 Mascot Glove
Question: "Why would you need a massive and oversized glove?"
Answer: "WHY WOULD YOU NOT NEED A MASSIVE AND OVERSIZED GLOVE!!"
Akadema makes this list not once, but twice for thinking outside of the box and having some serious fun with the gloves they built! Akadema's giant glove seems to make appearances on professional baseball highlight reels every year when a fan is rocking one in the stands. And every once in a while we are even treated to seeing a fan snag a foul ball or homer with one of these monster pieces of leather. Akadema advertises it at 23 inches from the tip of the index finger to the heel of the glove's palm. And as you can see from the image below, it engulfs an adult sized hand:
Louisville Slugger TPX Pitcher's Glove (Roger Clemens Model)
For the early 2000s, the "Rocket" Roger Clemens glove was pretty unique. It had a mesh backing to it (mesh used to be a more popular backing; a little similar to Wilson's SuperSkin), but most surprising was that it was "backless". In other words, there was no opening on the back where you could see his knuckles or a hole where he could stick his index finger out of the backing of the glove. You can get a little bit of a look at it below...
Our guess is that Roger was taking no chances when it came to possibly tipping a pitch to a batter. There will be times when pitchers might wiggle their index finger on the outside of the glove in a certain manner when they are throwing an off speed pitch (i.e. curve ball, slider, etc...) and the batter will know the pitch to anticipate being thrown. But with a backless glove, there is no chance that your finger will be giving out any tips to the batter.
Today, you will see a few big league pitchers rocking a backless glove to prevent tipping pitches (like Marcus Stroman), but it seems to us that Roger Clemens might have helped usher in that feature for gloves!
Troy Tulowitzki's "Buttermilk Pancake"
Now the craziness of this glove is not due to any extra modifications from the manufacturer, but more from the manner in which the player took care of the glove.
Yes, the glove above is Troy Tulowitzki's glove. From around 2007 to 2016, Tulo used the same TT2 model of glove from Rawlings. When he first started using it around '07, I bet it was pristine and beautiful, but by the playoffs in 2015 it had been worn ragged. So much so that Tom Verducci called it a "buttermilk pancake" on a 2015 playoff broadcast...
However, be sure to note that from 2007 to 2015, Troy Tulowitzki was a well above average defensive shortstop. He may not have cared for his glove properly, but the guy could undoubtedly field like a champ!
Oneil Cruz's Taped Laces
Oneil Cruz is like no other baseball player that has come before him. At 6 foot 7 inches, is the tallest player to ever start a Major League Baseball game at shortstop. And he's already performed some incredible feats as he set the Statcast-era record for the hardest hit baseball at 122.4 miles per hour.
But we're going to be talking about what he does with his glove that some ball glove purists might call "crazy". Oneil tapes the laces between fingers of his glove...I know, kinda crazy!
It's hard to get a super up close look of his Easton glove with the taped laces, but if you look hard you'll be able to see them in the image above. If you know the advantage of taping up those laces, please let us know because we aren't certain of what they're doing for the glove. But hey, they definitely bring a little bit of swagger to the glove's look when you do get that up close look. Check out the video below to see our buddy Chris Bangert (aka the Ball Glove King) do a deep dive on Oneil's glove:
Well there are the seven gloves that we believe are the craziest of all time! Feel free to let our Glove Experts know if you've found a crazier glove and we'll consider adding it to the list. The Experts can be called at 866-321-4568, emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can chat with them right here!