No other athletes are quite as particular when it comes to their equipment as ball players. And when it comes to their equipment, there is no item over which players fuss quite like the baseball glove.
Most players have a conditioner that they use to keep their glove in top condition. Some will even carry their glove in hand onto a plane to keep it from getting smooshed in the luggage area beneath the plane cabin. And then there are the players that will nearly get into fisticuffs over another’s hand being put into their baseball glove.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that there has been dissension amongst ballplayers among two of the top glove series out there. It’s a civil dispute though…a skirmish amongst one brand. The disagreement consists of deciding between two Rawlings series. And specific debate is: Should a player use a Heart of the Hide ® or Pro Preferred ® glove?
Before we continue, let’s just put this out there, both gloves are fantastic and we think you’ll be pretty happy with your decision no matter the series you choose (or have already chosen).
But if you have been trying to decide whether to go with the Heart of the Hide (HOH) or Pro Preferred for your next glove purchase, then this is the blog for you. Please continue reading as we’ll list out the differences and help you make the decision for yourself!
Heart of the Hide
In 1958, Rawlings was feeling the pressure of technological advances being made within the baseball glove market and they introduced what they called “Heart of the Hide” leather on their XPG glove. That ball glove was well received by professional players and eventually the moniker used for the leather became the name for the entire glove. Nearly 70 years later, the Heart of the Hide is still being used by players in the professional ranks all the way down to amateur levels.
To begin, you must know the two big components that make up every single Heart of the Hide out on the market:
- US Steerhide Leather - This leather is used to create the shell of the glove. It’s taken from bulls that are made into steers for ranching. These animals live shorter lives when compared to cows. Thus, when compared to cowhide, steerhide is going to be less stretchy (i.e. more stiff) as the steers have less lifetime to grow a large belly and loosen the hide.
- Deertanned Cowhide Palm Liner - The palm liner is the section that your hand touches when you put it into your glove. Rawlings uses cowhide in this section of the glove, but they tan it in a unique way that makes it very soft when touched.
In addition to those big factors listed above, Heart of the Hides are commonly built with features that make them attractive for use by young players. Two great youth advantages seen on some HOH gloves are the following:
- R2G - The R2G (or Ready-2-Go) Heart of the Hides are specially designed to only require 35% of the break-in process to be done by the player (as opposed to a regular Heart of the Hide which requires 60% of the break-in to be done by the player).
- ContoUR Fit - You can find a number of Heart of Hides with a ContoUR Fit. These ContoUR Fit models display narrow & lowered finger stalls, an adjusted back opening and a tighter wrist strap.
Shop Rawlings ContoUR Fit Gloves
As well, this line does not forget about the ladies playing softball. You are able to find an impressive collection of HOH Fastpitch gloves out there. And Rawlings comes through in tweaking the design to make it more attractive for the fastpitch market overall. Instead of using the stiff, steerhide leather for these gloves, they substitute in a full grain leather (most likely a cowhide) that should be able to provide fastpitch players with a faster break-in time (the time needed should be similar to what’s required on an R2G model).
Lastly, Heart of the Hides have serious pedigree. As mentioned earlier, this line has been around for nearly seven decades, legions of MLB players have sworn by them and the “I remember my first Heart of the Hide” stories are countless.
Just take the word of a living legend, Nolan Arenado. He has been using a Heart of the Hide since his amateur days…
While the Heart of the Hides are firmly rooted within baseball nomenclature, the same cannot be necessarily said about the Rawlings Pro Preferred. However, its excellence as a baseball glove is not in doubt.
Just like the Heart of the Hide, there are two essential elements by which a Pro Preferred is built:
- Kip Leather - The shell leather of these gloves comes from a younger animal and is a little thinner and lighter in weight when compared to steerhide. Along with having less natural markings (due to the shorter life of the animal) the grain of Kip leather can be said to have a higher-end look to it.
- Pittards Sheepskin Palm Liner - Pittards (pronounced "Pit-Ards") is a nearly 200 year old company based out of England and they’re world renowned for leather products, especially those relating to gloves. This unique leather material has the ability to wick moisture away from the player’s hand while it is in the glove.
When compared to the Heart of the Hides, these Pro Preferreds are not going to feature any design modifications to tailor them to a youth hand.
And even with the elegant kip leather that is thin and lightweight, these gloves will still require a decent amount of work to get them broken in (Rawlings says 70% of the break-in will be left to the player). That being said, if a player is pursuing the purchase of an elite glove, they know that an investment of time will be required to get the glove into game-ready condition. Having a stiff glove at the outset actually allows the break-in process to mold the glove more exactly to a player's hand. High-quality, stiff leather tends to have a “memory” and permanently shapes itself to the contours of a player’s hand over time.
To put it simply, Pro Preferreds are designed to be high-end gloves. If you are a player that is high school aged or older and you’re simply in pursuit of one of the best gloves out on the market, these Pro Preferreds need to be considered! Consider the testimony of Kris Bryant who uses a Pro Preferred as his gameday glove…
Key Differences Between Heart of the Hide and Pro Preferred
So we’ve listed out the nitty gritty details for both the Heart of the Hides and the Pro Preferreds. But let’s put that information against each other to get a more exact head-to-head comparison of both gloves:
- Leather - The Pro Preferred line will have the more luxurious Kip leather when compared to the steerhide used on the Heart of the Hides. Although, not as high-end, the steerhide on a Heart of the Hide gets the job done.
- Youth Options - While the Heart of the Hides are modified to provide easier break-ins and tighter fits for young players, Pro Preferreds would nearly always be recommended for highschool-to-adult aged players.
- Softball - Rawlings does create fastpitch gloves within the Heart of the Hide series. However, Pro Preferreds are made exclusively for baseball.
- Price - Although only gently alluded to thus far, Heart of the Hides typically retail around $300 while Pro Preferreds are more expensive at prices around $380.
- Break-In - Both gloves will require some effort to get broken in. A traditional HOH needs around 60% of the break-in to be done by the player. A Pro Preferred needs around 70% to be done by the player. But remember that Rawlings does create their R2G and fastpitch Heart of the Hides with pre-softened leather for a quicker break-in.
It’s all laid out there now. As mentioned at the beginning, we know how detailed players can be about their gear and we hope we’ve honored that attention to detail with the information presented here. But the time has come for you to make the decision on whether you’re going to choose the illustrious Heart of the Hide or the luxurious Pro Preferred. Good luck!
If you're looking for some "extra" glove content to fill your day, consider checking out the Rawlings Instagram account. Their channel is filled with all sorts of cool pro baseball content as Rawlings is the official glove sponsor of Major League Baseball!
If you are still in need of some expert advice when it comes to choosing a glove, we’ve got folks who can help you. Reach out to our trained team of Glove Experts. They can be reached on the phone at 866-321-2287, through email via email@example.com or by starting a LIVE CHAT here.