At JustGloves, we are blessed to obsess over gloves all day long.
Some people might look at a pile of gloves and say, “All of those are the same thing”. Statements like that make us blush. Each model of glove is unique in its own way. And even if those points aren’t clearly stated by the manufacturer of the glove, the player will discover the nuances once they start using it.
Luckily for Rawlings glove owners, nearly no aspects of a Rawlings is left to ambiguity. And one of the iconic features of select Rawlings gloves over the years has been the Fastback ® design. Keep reading if you want to learn all that there is to know about the Rawlings Fastback feature and more unique details of Rawlings gloves!
The Rawlings Fastback
First introduced on Rawlings gloves in 1968, the Fastback was the result of improved functionality and the culture of the 1960s. Up to this point, gloves had traditionally been built with what can be called an “open back”.
However, Rawlings felt that a glove with an open back could be improved to further assist a player’s performance. And their glove designers got together with the goal of building something better. They decided to completely close off the back of a player’s hand and knuckles leaving only a solitary hole that the player could use to wear their index finger on the outside backing of the glove if they chose.
The benefits of the Fastback glove were threefold:
- Players using a Fastback glove received increased control over their glove.
- The Fastback glove provided more protection to the back of their hand and knuckles.
- In 1968, when the Fastback design was coupled with Rawlings’ Basket Web, gloves could then be made with a length longer than 12 inches.
Our favorite part of this glove design was how Rawlings pulled the name from popular culture of the late 1960s. Muscle cars ruled during the late 60’s and one of the most popular roof styles of these muscle cars was known as the “fastback”. A fastback car offered a roof style that gently sloped down from the hood of the car into the trunk area of the vehicle. This car design allowed the vehicles to look especially aerodynamic.
[Vintage Car With A "Fastback" Design]
The Rawlings marketing team from the 1960s swooped on this car concept. With their new closed-back design looking more aerodynamic than the open-backed gloves they had built previously, they adopted the name the “Fastback” for this type of glove and at one point even made the word their own registered trademark.
Over a half century later, Rawlings doesn’t market the “Fastback” name as aggressively as they once did, but you can still find a collection of Fastback gloves that display this technology which originated back in 1968!
The Rawlings Wing Tip
After the Fastback, it didn’t take long for Rawlings to strike with another alteration to their glove design. In 1970, the Wing Tip appeared in the Rawlings Catalog for the first time with the endorsement of some big time stars:
[Wing Tip Gloves Being Touted By Reggie Jackson &
Brooks Robinson - Image Courtesy of Rawlings Archives]
The Wing Tip was ushered in to make the hand stall of a Rawlings glove more comfortable. Gloves built in the 70’s (and to this day) featured welting on the finger backs. According to Rawlings, welting is “a thin piece of leather that goes down the back of and on top of the fingers of a glove”. Multiple pieces of leather are stitched together to create the backing of a glove and the welting is placed over the stitching as protection.
We were able to ask Robert Newman, a product engineer at Rawlings, about the origin of the Wing Tip design and he explained that in the early 70’s, padded finger stalls had not yet been introduced to gloves and “the welting created a bunch-up of material could be somewhat uncomfortable on a player’s fingers”. As you can see below, the Wing Tip design keeps the welting from ever reaching a point where it can interfere with a player’s fingers:
[Image Courtesy of Rawlings Archives]
As alluded to above, Rawlings now employs padded finger and thumb stalls to ensure comfort for a player’s hand while in the glove. Because of that, the Wing Tip design is no longer needed from a functionality standpoint. However, Rawlings definitely struck gold in 1970 when it came to the Wing Tip and its style. To this day, you can still find Rawlings models at JustGloves that feature the Wing Tip look on their backing!
The Rawlings Trap-Eze ®
Ten years before the Wing Tip was introduced to the baseball glove market, Rawlings sent waves through the sport in the year of 1960. Only two years earlier in 1958, they introduced their "Heart of the Hide" leather on their XPG model of glove and they were ready to innovate again. That new innovation was the Trap-Eze webbing.
Up to this point, webs existed on gloves, but in a modest fashion. This new Rawlings web could truly “trap” a baseball within it. In the first half of the 20th century players were having to catch the ball in their palm and with two hands. By the middle of the century as technology had advanced, they could rely more on the pocket of the glove for catching a ball (the area where the palm and pocket meet). But once the Trap-Eze was released in 1960, players using the glove knew that as long as they could just get their web on the baseball, there was a high chance they could catch it.
The functionality aspect of the Trap-Eze was fantastic as it helped improve players' confidence in their equipment and also increased their fielding range. However, the look took a lot of players and fans by surprise. This glove made it look like the player had a sixth finger that was helping support their glove. Thus over the years, this web has come to be known as the “Six-Finger” web.
As you can hopefully understand after reading this blog, there is so much cool history from Rawlings’ nearly 140 year existence. And we’ve barely even tapped into all there is to know about this cool ball glove brand! If you’re on a journey to find a Rawlings baseball glove and need some personalized guidance, we’d recommend calling in to our team of trained Glove Experts at 866-321-4568 or by LIVE CHATTING right now!