To flare or not to flare? That is the question…
About 20 or so years ago, the gloves on infielders’ hands got larger. And as lengthier gloves have become the preference of infielders, a decisionhad to be made. Would modern fielders go the way of their predecessors from the 60s, 70s and 80s and make speed of transfer their main focus when shaping their gloves? Or would they ensure that the extra reach of their gloves was put into full effect?
The preferred glove of infielders in the 60s, 70s and 80s was a tiny glove. Some accounts say that Joe Morgan, Hall of Fame 2B from that era, had a glove as small as 8 inches (they don't even make youth gloves that small). And in addition to using these small gloves, the players essentially wanted them to be bowl shaped with the thumb and fingers all rolled inward. The belief was that the small glove coupled with the bowled shape would consistently trap the ball in the same spot allowing for the infielder to pull the ball out of the glove with ease.
However, at some point in the late 90s, baseball players began trying out longer gloves. It was clear that the emphasis had shifted from quick transfers to covering more area on the infield. The longer fingers of these gloves gave players a chance to not only improve the function of their glove, but also a canvas to show off a little bit of personality by way of...THE FLARE!
If you have ever had interest in learning how to flare your glove, knowing why players flare their glove or wondered which MLB players flare their gloves…you need to keep reading!
How Do You Flare A Baseball Glove?
Flaring a baseball glove is quite easy. Just grab the glove’s thumb and pinky and start bending them outwards. As can be seen below…
However, one can definitely put more thought into it than just taking the thumb and pinky and bending them outwards. Aside from looking cool, the common thought behind flaring your glove is often to create a funnel that channels the baseball into the pocket of your glove.
Oftentimes, you’ll see some infielders with what could be considered a more extreme flare where they have grabbed the glove half way up the thumb and pinky and started bending. The final result of flaring a glove in that manner is the following…
Other times, you’ll find infielders that go with more of a hybrid flare. They’ll pair a flare on the thumb of the glove with a roll on the fingers (a roll is more similar to players were doing in the 60s, 70s and 80s). See below…
And don’t think for a second that the outfielders get left out of the fun of flaring the thumb and pinky of their gloves. However, you probably won’t find an extreme flare on an outfielder’s glove. Instead of bending half way up the thumb and pinky of the glove, outfielders will usually bend at the base of the thumb and pinky. Over time this will allow the glove to open extremely wide and trap a baseball securely within the big glove. See the more subtle outfield flare below…
Should You Flare Your Glove?
There are two ways to answer this question…
- For an infielder (2B, SS & 3B), YES, you should flare the thumb and pinky on your glove if you wish to help channel the baseball into the pocket of the glove.
- For outfielders, YES, adding a flare to the base of your glove’s thumb and pinky should allow the glove to open very wide and truly give you a bigger area to catch a baseball. Infielders can employ this flare as well.
Ultimately though, the question you should ask yourself when deciding to flare your glove’s thumb or pinky is “Will this shape make me a better fielder?” If you have fielded at an exceptional level your whole life and never flared your glove...there is no one saying you need to start.
Everyone has different preferences and the best glove or shape for you will be different from what your best friend prefers. There is certainly no one way to shape or flare a baseball glove.
Do MLB Players Flare Their Gloves?
Yes, many of them do! Some of the best fielders will be found putting a flare on the thumbs and pinkies of their gloves.
Matt Chapman - The 3x American League Gold Glove winner at 3B, goes with more of a Hybrid flare when he shapes his Wilson glove. He will put a flare onto the base of his glove’s thumb. He’ll roll the fingers (index, middle and ring) like a ballplayer from the 60s, 70s and 80s. And then just work the pinky of his glove gradually to make it more straight. Watch below to get a full break down on Matt's glove from JustGloves's affiliate, the Ball Glove King:
Nolan Arenado - Nado‘s Rawlings glove is quite unique. He flares the glove gently at the base of the thumb and pinky (more similar to the outfield flare shown above). And then he loosens all of the glove’s laces between the fingers. He probably has the largest glove opening of an infielder in the MLB. And it makes sense, he plays at 3B and gets baseballs blasted at him at high velocities all season long. He wants a glove that is going to simply stop the baseball. And once he stops the baseball, he lets his God-given talent take over to get a quick transfer to his throwing hand and his rocket right arm nearly always tosses out the runner at first base. Again...learn about Nolan's glove from the Ball Glove King:
We hope that this blog has helped you decide if you’ll flare your ballglove for the upcoming season! If you still have questions on flaring your glove or if you just need help making a purchase, please reach out to our team of Glove Experts. They can be reached on phone at 1-866-321-2287, through email at email@example.com or by LIVE CHATTING HERE.